Stripped of my clothes, I stand naked on the foredeck surrounded by one hundred fifty-seven bloodthirsty lobsters.
In one hand, I brandish a stick of butter, on the other, I wear a golden oven-mitt held aloft. I peer into the hungry ocean and watch the gashing of its white-capped teeth. The green tongue of the sea licks the barnacle-covered hull of my ship. In the sky, a gaggle of gulls rain insults upon my head; their two-tone wings darken the sky. I am alone.
Betrayed by the dim-witted emptiness of the crustacean’s unblinking stare, I let my guard down. I was lulled into a false sense of superiority while they plotted mutiny in their traps of wood and web. Now I was paying the price for my arrogance, but I will not go quietly.
The battle rages on. Leaping upon the anchor windlass, I challenge my dinner. They will never take me. The stick of butter I hold will be their grave blanket. As I charge them I let out a mad cry. The rebellious mob of lobsters part before the power of the butter; their advance routed.
Along the cabin tops I dash, chased by my adversaries and the clicking of their claws. Reaching the shrouds that secure the top of the mast to the chainplates, I climb. I look down and sneer at my attackers – stick of butter wedged between my teeth. Victory will be mine.
Scrambling along the yardarm, I take hold of the fore halyard and swing to the main mast. Below me the army of lobsters fall into disarray. They know where I am headed. They know they are powerless to stop me. They know they are vulnerable.
Seizing the advantage I use a crab’s claw that is wedged into the butter, and slice through the main sail’s halyard. The canvas sail falls like a sack of flour covering the unblinking onyx colored eyes of my enemy. The ocean cockroaches cry out as they see victory slipping from their clicking grasp. I will show no mercy.
Leaping aft, across the chasm that separates the main and mizzenmasts, I grab hold of the mizzen sail’s luff. Driving the sharp edge of the lobster claw through the sail, I allow friction and gravity to safely pull me towards the deck below. The tide of battle has turned. I am on the offensive.
I pull the helm and jibe. The heavy booms sweep forcibly across the deck, throwing my attackers against the ship’s waist. As the great ship heels to port many of my enemy are cast overboard through the scuppers and others are crushed under the weight of their fellow co-conspirators. I watch with satisfaction as discipline collapses throughout the decapod army. A few begin to fight among themselves. Now the odds are even. Now they will pay for their treacherous acts.
In grueling oven mitt-to-claw combat I challenge the self-assured warriors one by one. Many times I am nearly overrun, but the butter is strong and the oven-mitt a match for the oversize claws of my attackers. Our pugilistic clashes last agonizing minutes. Alone, I maintain a constant vigilance.
Several times we clash amidships only to withdraw, each to lick our salt covered wounds and regroup. I declare to them they shall never take me alive. I shall have my dinner! Their beady, unblinking eyes stare back mocking my defiance.
Wave after wave of large, stalk-eyed crustaceans press the attack. The ferocity of the last assault drives me farther and farther aft, until I am left only the wheelhouse and quarterdeck. Making what I know is my last, desperate stand I rally and press them. The tide turns and they fall back. Unsure if they feign retreat, I carefully pick my way through their defenses.
A blood-curdling laugh escapes my lips as I realize they are at my mercy. I am rejuvenated by Fate. Days of close combat have de-clawed the big mandibles. Only the small defensive claws are left. I shall smite my enemy.
Revenge is a dish best served hot. I shall eat of my revenge with bare hands and the juices of victory shall run down my chin. The recipe card will be their epitaph: lobster Newburg – cooked lobster meat in a cream sauce, egg yolks, cayenne, and wine poured over rice. Victory shall taste good.
My jubilation is short lived. Out of the corner of my eye I see it – my destruction. They take my flank and capture the wheel. I hear the thundering of the boom sweeping across its saddle and watch as the deck tilts in a new direction. As if a film in slow motion I witness the boom striking my outstretched hand, the butter exploding, and the pine grains of the boom as it meets my chest. I glimpse the golden oven-mitt leaping off my hand as if ejected by a cannon. The war is over. I have lost.
As I slide down the ocean’s gullet, I watch as the stick of butter spreads into a blanket on the tide above me.