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  • Writer's pictureKevin O'Keefe


I passed her as she staggered out of the culvert by the side of Route 30. She seemed in distress so I turned around on my bike and dismounted. I wasn’t sure if her eyes were open or not until I saw them tear, then take me in. Wondering, I suspect if I meant her harm. I’d guess she was about twenty. Across the busy highway lay cattails and a scummy backwater, perfect for this hot May day.

I wondered if she had eggs in her, if this chance encounter might be the continuation of millions of years of dinosaur progeny. I tried to pick her up from behind but her carapace reared backwards startling me. Her black claws scratched the ground. Certainly long enough to break skin and fishermen tell the tale of the guy who lost a finger to her snapping jaws.

The traffic roared passed us, trucks, eighteen-wheelers, motorcycles I accessed her chances of crossing without my aid—zero. I had to pass this way in about two hours, if I saw her flattened and splattered on the road I didn’t think I could live with myself, my lack of action, lack of care, or attention.

I told her, “I’m scared and I HAVE to do this.” She snapped at me and turned to retreat back to the culvert. I got behind her and grabbed her by the tail. As I lifted I guessed she weighed about twenty pounds. Her well-named jaws snaked to either side but remained far from my legs.

It took little time to run her across the road and lay her safely in the high grass. Good deed accomplished, my scoutmaster Mr. Ellis, surely long dead now, would be proud.

As I rode away I heard Elton John sing in my head, “Someone saved my life tonight.” Perhaps that is grandiosity.

What’s the song that goes with helping an old lady across the street?


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