The Turtles

One of my coworkers, Scott, told us that his sister-in-law has the intentions of getting a pair of turtles for his son's birthday. I suppose he *is* too young for a pair of hookers, but turtles? I don't know. It brought to mind a horrible childhood memory. Of turtles. Not hookers.

When I was 9-ish we found a turtle on the side of the road. I'm not sure what kind it was. I think it was either a box turtle, a snapping turtle, or a fucking evil turtle. I tend to lean toward fucking evil.

I'm not exactly sure who was the individual that was instrumental in determining that we should bring this evil little reptile menace home and keep it as a pet, but I think it might have been me.

Apparently when I was even younger we had a turtle that escaped by wandering out of the open gate. I wish I had that getaway on film. Apparently I was sad (understatement) and this was seen as a way to make things right. Here's a tip. Don't try to make things right. Just let it be.

So we took him home and my dad put together a turtle pen using three boards and the side of the house. It worked. It stymied all escape attempts. It's not like he could jump out.

I was enthralled. I would watch him for hours. Like there was ANYTHING else to do. This was back in the day of three television stations and one PBS station, and I lacked a car and cash.

So I would stare at this turtle until it was time to feed him. He ate raw liver. How this was determined to be a good diet for an evil turtle, I don't know. I think a book may have been involved (find out more about this fun fact and many others at your local library!). He also liked fruit, but he LOVED the raw liver.

He would come out of his shell to eat the raw liver.

I fed him by hand.

I *thought* he was my friend.

It turned out he was EVIL! Evil with a long neck!

One day he came out of his shell about an inch further to scarf down the liver and latched on to my finger. About an inch of my finger. If it didn't hurt so bad I could have probably poked his brain.

I immediately started wailing and crying. I tried to swing him off but THAT wasn't a good idea. He had a freaking death grip on my finger and if he was going to go flying he would take my finger with him!

My mom heard the shrieks of pain and ran out to see what had happened. She didn't panic (I think this incident occurred after the infamous "cutting my eyelid open" thing that I will write about some other time) too much. As I recall. She hurried me in to the kitchen and my uncle who was visiting took one look at the situation and proclaimed, "It'll never let go. You're going to have to cut it's head off."

Okay, another tip: unless your goal is to totally freak out a child, don't tell them that something is NEVER going to let go, and don't mention home surgery.

My first thought was that I was going to go through the rest of my life with a turtle on my finger. I was hoping that I would eventually get used to the pain.

THEN I considered the possibility of my mom sawing through my pet (evil) turtle's neck with a serrated kitchen knife while I looked into his eyes. And then I thought, "What if she saws through my finger?"

So yeah, I started screaming even louder. For which I'm sure my mom was very grateful to her brother. She took me over to the kitchen sink, and I figured, "That's it. She's getting the knife." Instead, however, she held my finger and the dangling turtle under running water. It took about a minute but the little bastard let go and fell into the sink.

I looked at my finger expecting to see a bloody mess, but instead there was a dark, deep 'V' shaped indentation on both sides of my finger, and it was throbbing. The turtle was also just fine. Of course.

My mom put him back in his pen and I never tried to feed him by hand again. All liver went on a plate and was dropped in the corner furthest from wherever he was at the time.

Eventually he escaped by digging his way under a corner of the boards.

I was a little sad about this, because even though he was evil, he was MY evil dammit! I had plans of using him against my enemies some day.

So... Good luck with the whole "pair-of-turtles" gift thing there Scott. Better you than me.


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