You feel lucky?
I said, do you feel lucky?
I would be willing to bet at least 4 of these poker chips that I could eat the shrimp off your line without you so much as you getting my pinchers out of the water.
Just you try to pull one of these chips off of my body.
Well, you are right- I don’t move very well these days. It isn’t very easy to hold on to your belonging and be in the ocean. I used to think that living above land was hard enough during hurricane season, but how can you cling to your treasure when it is floating in the sand.
What I’ve started doing is fusing these poker chips to my body. One by one. I just take a little spit, rub it with some pieces of sand, and now I’ve got my own version of a barnacle.
You see that mullet swim by? Want to bet if it ends up flinging itself into a boat in the next ten minutes? No? Why? I’m sure the odds are in your favor, they aren’t very smart.
Some people can hardly tell I’m a crab anymore. My shell is so adorned with poker chips, I seem like plastic treasure skuttling along the bottom of the ocean. What they don’t know is I’ve made myself my own reef bed out of these tokens. I’ve just decorated my home with various kelps, cigarette buds and dead fish, my sea companions can hardly tell what it is anymore. My fellow crabs think I’m paranoid- why would seafood even need poker chips? Why do I need poker chips?
Well, I wasn’t always a crab. I used to be an addict. I’m much better if you can’t tell. I’m much better at holding on to my treasure than losing it these days. Every once in a while I almost get caught, I lost my large pincer that way, but it is fine. I find the broken poker chips work easily in its place. But yea, before I was a crab I was visiting the casinos, the IP, Boomtown and even the barges of Biloxi, before they all were moved to the land. I was in the insurance business, gambling with people’s lives and property that nothing would happen. That the big godly payout would never need to be paid out.
Some people think that living in the Gulf is one big gamble, and it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. I was born in Biloxi and I remember the boat parties, the supper clubs and making out on Deer Island while being sucked dry by mosquitos and no-see-ums and hopefully a pretty face. Yet you get kind of high, high off feeling that you are getting away with something. Just coasting past God’s gaze. The frivolous bet at the craps table or installing a stained-glass window in your beach home. When you go into work every day, 9-5, Monday- Friday it is the risks, that you remember. The mistakes that flavor the dryness of the day-to-day.
Do you think that you won’t have your home destroyed in the next year? If not, are you willing to bet $200 a month? $300? $500? How much do you want to gamble on the wrath of God?
So how did I become a crab? Well, it is a funny story you see. I started to charge people more money for these insurance policies than they were worth. An extra $20 here, and extra $40 there and I would use that cash in the casinos. I played all the games- slot machines, craps, blackjack, but my favorite was roulette. You think you are stuck in the circles of hell? You’ve never betted someone’s 4-bedroom home insurance policy on the roulette. The problem is I kept dipping. I kept taking more from the insurance plans and not completing their paperwork. What I wasn’t expecting was for Katrina to hit. When all my clients figured out that their protection was a pipe dream, they came for me. People laugh at the notion of the Dixie Mafia, but they are real. After the storm, it was no-man’s land. Everyone’s focus was on New Orleans, no one was paying attention to the wreckage in Mississippi. Dead bodies being looted, people going missing, and things washing up ashore.
My office was miraculously spared. In a little shopping center on Pass Road, my clients got together and forced my secretary to give them the paperwork of all the people whose plans had gone unpaid. Who did not have any protection, and now whose homes had been demolished. They found each other and decided to take matters into their own hands. In the dead of the night, they drove up to my house and threw me in the back of a van and carted me way. Each of them had brought a brick from their demolished home and filled four satchels with about 20 bricks in them each. They tied each of these bags to my limb and stuck a golden coin in my mouth.
The leader of the gang was a Preacher, which despite their future activities, he seemed to be under the impression that these actions were deemed approved by the heavens above. For a Baptist, it ironically was pretty Old Testament to me, and eye for an eye and all that. As they dragged me to the disintegrated pier in back bay, the Preacher spoke.
“Jeremiah Dedeaux, you have done us wrong with your greed and your lies. You have taken our labor and cast it into the sea as frivolously as we cast Mardi Gras beads to children. You have grabbed, grabbed and grabbed your entire life. So let this be your last grab. Feel the weight of your gambles in each of your limbs as you are thrown to the sea. May God have mercy on your soul, for we cannot extend that courtesy to you.”
Creaaack THUD, shhhhhhhh, blublblubblub.
Let me tell you, drowning to death with bricks tied to your body is not an ideal death. The more you struggle to let go, the more your treasure cling to you. So sure enough I let go of my last breath as a man after the struggle of a lifetime. However, I made sure, to not let go of that coin. I was taking that with me. Yet, God did seem to have some mercy on my soul. Perhaps I could pay off St. Peter at the Gates after all. As I laid at the bottom of Back Bay, I became the treasure once more. Catfish nibbled on me, weeds burst through my eyes, but it was the blue crabs that took from me the most. They grabbed and grabbed and crabbed and crabbed until they had eaten away all my flesh, but also my soul. So most of my memories and what’s left of me is in this small crab, living between the IP Casino and Boomtown. Making bets on bait and rolling the dice with every tide.
So now every time another gambler ends up with poker chips stuffed in his mouth and thrown into the Back Bay, or lovers throw a coin into the water to wish upon a dream; I skuttle across the floor and scoop up the treasure for myself. I adorn myself in these treasures and have proven, you can take your possessions to the afterlife. There are indeed three certainties in life, Death, Taxes, and Slowly Turning into a Crab.
Don’t believe me? Why not take my advice and put your money where your mouth is.