The Crawfish in the Sunset

Biloxi beach. Photograph by DC Young, 1985.

Just a little flash of fiction to liven up a Saturday. Read this and you will be set free. Cheap entertainment.

The Crawfish in the Sunset

They are walking barefooted on the beach, Gene and Abby. Behind them is the Madden’s Court pier. Ahead is the long vacant strand that leads toward Point Youx. He wants to talk about the anxious apprehensions battering his cranium, but how can he? The emotions arising in the night, in his feverish dreams, become in the daytime all those memories that he wishes would leave him alone, fears that even he cannot put words to. He would tell Abby if he could, but what does he know of her? A month together, how long is that? Could she lead him out of the dark wood? Or would she abandon him, either by accident or intent, leaving him to fall farther away and down?

Abby grips his hand. “What are you talking about?”

“Was I talking?”

“You said something like, I need to open myself.”

“You know that Little Milton song, ‘Packed Up and Took My Mind’?”

“I’ve heard it.”

“Well, there’s a verse that goes

You know I tell myself this is a nightmare

And somebody’s gonna wake me anytime

Cuz when my baby packed up her clothes and left me

She sure . . . I believe, I believe

She took my mind

“Okay.”

“Something’s not right, goddmanit. I can hear it but I don’t know what it is.”

“Could be a combination of . . .”

“Maybe, maybe what’s on my mind is simply old spirits, like the ghost of my dead Uncle Homer, the one who told me a truth that haunts me, that I can’t put away.”

After a silence, Abby points westward down the beach and says “What would you say that color is, on the horizon there, out beyond the Rigolets?

“Crawfish. The sunset’s as red as boiled crawfish.”

“All right, then Gene. As long as you can see the crawfish in the sunset, you’re going to be all right.”

They continue into the crawfish red glow and talk about Homer Madden. Gene is certain that if he talks about his uncle, he’s not thinking about his doubts about Abby or even of himself. The relief won’t last, though. It never does.

Story by R Young. Phorograph by DC Young.

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