At the Seafood Restaurant

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Seung Geel Hong

A 25-year-old man recalls a disturbing childhood experience. He remembers a frightening incident that he witnessed at age 10 while on vacation with his aunt and uncle.

At the Seafood Restaurant

First Edition

By Hong, Seung Geel

© 2019 by Hong, Seung Geel

All rights reserved

ISBN:  978-1-79471-173-0

Disclaimer

The following story was inspired by true experience, but the names of persons and organizations were changed to protect the privacy of everyone involved.  Therefore, any similarity between any of the names in this story to any known individual, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Hong, Seung Geel

At the Seafood Restaurant

 

1.Matthew’s Birthday

Today was Matthew’s 25th birthday, and his wife Silvia had made reservation for a party of four at Penny’s Seafood Restaurant.

Matthew and Silvia had invited their friends Glenn and Maggie to meet them at the seafood restaurant at 6:00 p.m., and they later would decide whether or not to go bowling at the Algonquin Bowling Lanes.

It was already 5:30, and the babysitter had not arrived yet.  Silvia wondered if the babysitter had forgotten that today was Matthew’s birthday, the day that Matthew and Silvia were supposed to meet Glenn and Maggie at the seafood restaurant.

Silvia picked up the telephone to call the babysitter, but she now no longer needed to make the call:  Just as Silvia was about to dial the phone number, the babysitter drove into the driveway.

Therefore, Matthew and Silvia hugged-and-kissed their daughter and then drove to Penny’s Seafood Restaurant.

2.Time to Order

They arrived at the restaurant at 5:56, where Glenn and Maggie were standing next to the entrance door, waiting for Matthew and Silvia to arrive.

Then, after being seated by the hostess, the four diners engaged in small talk while they waited for someone to bring them the menu.

A few minutes later, a waitress arrived and handed each of the diners a large, light-blue menu.

The waitress suggested:

 

“We have a crab dinner special tonight.  The clam chowder soup and the dessert are free.”

 

The waitress, then, told them that she would return in a few minutes to take their order.

As the others were looking over their menus, Matthew suddenly recalled a disturbing incident that he had experienced when he was 10 years old. . . .

3. Vacation in Delaware

At the time, Matthew was living in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and he and his young brother Lewis were invited by Aunt Nancy and Uncle Luke to spend a vacation with them in Delaware.

Aunt Nancy and Uncle Luke had four children of their own, and they had financial problems like everybody else.  Nevertheless, they were kind-hearted people, and they had saved their money so that they could take their nephews with them on their vacation.

Aunt Nancy and Uncle Luke had rented a cottage for two weeks at Rehoboth Beach, which is located on the southeast coast of Delaware.  And just about every day, Uncle Luke would take the children fishing in his home-made motorboat, which was an open 14-feet outboard.  That is, it had a detachable motor mounted on the stern (or, a motor attached at the rearmost of the boat).

4.Crab Fishing

One day, the ocean was too rough for Uncle Luke’s 14-feet boat.  Therefore, he took the children to the pier to catch crabs.

Uncle Luke and the children used a flat net that was spread open by a square-shaped wire frame, and two arched rods were attached diagonally from one corner to the other.  Where the arched rods crossed, a nylon cord was tied to it so that the net could be raised or lowered.

Uncle Luke and the children placed pieces of scrap meat at the center of the net to attract the crabs, and they would pull the net out of the water whenever the net became full.

Several times, Matthew and Lewis almost had their hands pinched by the crabs.  Nonetheless, by the end of the afternoon, Uncle Luke and the children had caught nearly three buckets of crabs.  They kept the crabs from escaping by covering the buckets with wooden boards.

5.Cooking the Crabs

Back at the cottage, Matthew wondered how they would kill the crabs before cooking them.  He presumed that they somehow would smash the crabs’ “head end” with a hammer to kill them without causing them too much pain, but he did not know how they could hold onto the crabs without getting pinched.

Therefore, Matthew innocently asked:

 

“Uncle Luke, how are we gonna hold onto the crabs so we can kill them?  I don’t want to get pinched. . . .”

Uncle Luke replied:

 

“Well, . . . there’s no practical way for us to kill them before cooking them.  It’s too dangerous. . . .”

 

Matthew imagined how painful it would be for the misfortunate crabs, and he felt bad for having taken part in catching them.  But it now was too late to do anything about it.

Besides, Matthew did not want to appear as a “sissy” or a “weakling” to his peers.  Therefore, he kept his feelings to himself as Uncle Luke turned on the stove burners to get the water boiling.

Then, approximately 20 minutes later, Uncle Luke was ready to cook the crabs.  He uncovered one of the buckets and carefully poured half of the crabs into one of the cooking pots, and he poured the remaining crabs into the second cooking pot.

Meanwhile, after the first half dozen crabs had entered the boiling water, the remaining crabs in the bucket apparently realized that they were in dire situation.

Therefore, as they were sliding out of the bucket, they attempted to remain in the bucket by trying to claw their way back up.

The last three crabs (that were now sliding into the second cooking pot) somehow managed to cling onto the rim of the bucket and held on for dear life.  And Uncle Luke had to shake the bucket several times to loosen the grips of two of the crabs.

Uncle Luke, then, began to use a long wooden spoon to pry at the pincer of the last crab that still was clinging onto the bucket, whereupon the crab then switched pincers and now tenaciously clung onto the end of the wooden spoon in a life-or-death struggle to stay out of the boiling water.

Of course, the crab’s change of strategy was futile, because Uncle Luke simply pushed the “business-end” of the spoon into the boiling water, crab and all.

During all this time, every crab in the boiling water was fighting desperately to get out, the stronger ones crawling over the weaker ones and trying to climb up the side of the cooking pot.

6.Crab Communicates with Matthew

Matthew could see the crabs paddling their legs in attempt to stay afloat as they hopelessly stretched their quivering pincers forward in agony.

The strongest crab (i.e., the very last crab that died) actually made eye-contact with Matthew.  And Matthew wanted to look away, but he couldn’t.  It was as if the crab had hypnotized Matthew with its suffering.  And as the crab extended its quivering pincers forward toward Matthew, it opened its mouth and made motions that resembled screaming.  Even worse, the crab’s eyes enlarged and stretched forward toward Matthew.

The crab obviously was experiencing terror and unbearable pain, and it seemed to be asking Matthew:

 

“Why are you doing this to us?  What did we ever do to you to deserve such cruel treatment from you? . . .”

 

Then, having clearly conveyed (to Matthew) the universal gestures that showed terror and agonizing pain, the crab slowed down and began to sink.

To Matthew, the crab still appeared to be alive, and he reasoned that, by now, the crab’s nerves and muscles had sustained too much heat damage to struggle any longer.  And Matthew suspected that, although the crab probably was still experiencing excruciating pain, it was unable to do anything other than to stare out at the world as it sank beneath the boiling water. . . .

7.Matthew’s Turn to Order

Back at Penny’s Seafood Restaurant, as Matthew was thinking about the long-ago vacation in Delaware, the others at the table already had given their order(s) to the waitress.  And it now was Matthew’s turn to tell the waitress what he wanted to eat.

Hence, Silvia playfully tilted her head to the right, raised her eyebrows, and teased her husband affectionately:

 

“You’ve been day-dreaming again, my love.

You can tell me all about it after you order your dinner. . . . That is, if it’s nothing personal.

If it is personal, you can tell me all about it tonight, after we’re in bed (giggle, giggle) – now tell the waitress what you want, Sweetie. . . .”

Matthew looked into Silvia’s eyes and smiled.  And he said:

 

“Ah, . . . I was thinking about something that happened when I was ten years old.  I’ll tell you about it later.”

 

Matthew, then, turned his head toward the waitress and asked:

 

“Umm, . . . do you have . . . anything. . . for vegetarians? . . .”

 

 

Note:  They went bowling after the meal.


Submitted: May 09, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Seung Geel Hong. All rights reserved.

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