Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Summer of Barry

I live in a subdivision
called Dunbar Lakes.
Our streets were given nautical names,
like Regatta and Seaside,
but we are not near any major bodies of water.
There’s just a small retention pond
in the center of the subdivision,
next to the clubhouse and the tennis courts.
Last summer they discovered
a sea monster
living at the bottom
of the retention pond.
I don’t know how it got there,
or how my subdivision could sustain
an enormous beast
in this small body of water.
I came up with the name “Barry,”
for DunBAR Lakes,
and it quickly caught on,
but I never got any of the credit.

Barry was estimated to be
about thirty feet long,
and maybe a few hundred pounds.
He had an iridescent serpentine body
with grey fins,
including a large dorsal fin on his back.
He had the head of a Chinese dragon,
or so said my neighbor, Marla,
who claimed he tried to attack her
when she was walking her little white dog, Fritz,
but to be honest,
that dog is a real shit,
and I think Marla is drunk half the time.

Once the city confirmed
the existence of this creature,
our housing association
called for an immediate meeting,
which had to be held in a conference room
at the township library
because people were too afraid to gather
in the clubhouse next to the pond.
Every day a large crowd would gather
to watch the creature
as it raised his head periodically for air,
to see his dorsal fin skimming through
the surface of the water,
to observe him trying to take a bite
out of an unsuspecting Canada goose.
My neighbor, Ted Park, who is a board member,
told me that all these budding naturalists
were blocking people’s driveways with their cars,
and there were a ton of complaints,
which is why the daytime parking regulations changed
yet again.

Each morning would be small clusters of men,
the ones wearing camouflage pants
and bright orange hats,
sitting by the side of the pond with heavy fishing rods,
hot coffee in a thermos
with maybe a little booze added,
who thought they’d be able to hook the beast.
“That’s nonsense,” boomed Reggie Davison,
“you need a hand grenade to take that thing out.”
He implied he had a box of hand grenades
in his basement,
“but the goddamn governor
would never let me use them.
Don’t come crying to me
when that thing eats someone’s kid!”
Others in the neighborhood
were more conservation-minded,
like Luma Santiago,
who found the creature
“breathtaking, stunning, a miracle!”
and who stood angrily in front of the fishermen,
arms outstretched,
threatening to snap their rods.
Jim Hulce was an amateur photographer
and would regularly duck under
the yellow police tape
to try to take the closest possible photographs,
but could only produce blurry images,
like a Monet painting of the beast in the rain.

A team of marine biology experts
was assembled to document, identify,
trap, and rehome Barry,
and Animal Planet was there
to air a live television special
as the beast was caught
and carried by helicopter
to its new freshwater home.
As always,
when a television show
promises to show something extraordinary live,
it was a total disappointment.
The beast had vanished overnight,
as suddenly as it had appeared.
Nothing left in the pond
but some large carp,
turtles, herons, egrets, seagulls, muskrats,
and those damned Canada geese.
Had Barry been abducted by aliens?
Had he slipped through the same interdimensional wormhole
he had used to enter our lake?
Did he grow some legs and walk away
to another nearby suburb?
No one could explain his very existence
or his abrupt disappearance,
and all Animal Planet had to air
was interviews with baffled experts
and my stupid neighbors.

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