Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I killed a seal today. I wasn't my intention but it was either him or me. I woke up and walked into the living room and, sure enough, he was already awake. He was sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and an english muffin biscuit. The god dam seal was eating a breakfast I didn't particularly care for, but still: he was eating my breakfast. How could this be? This was the last tea bag. There will be none for breakfast tomorrow if you don't purchase more. Decaffeinated green. This cannot be.

I blinked the crusted sleep from my eyes and I walked to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I took the washcloth and soaked it in cold water from the faucet and placed it on my eyes to remove the remnants of the night and then placed the washcloth on the back of my neck while I splashed water from the still-running faucet on my face.

He held out a razor. He didn't say a word. He said it's time to start your day.

Day? What day? I had been out of work for three months. Budget cuts. I became expendable. Too many of me at too much salary. We're going digital, they said. Severance was more profitable for business than, well, me. It's not like I didn't see it coming, just as I knew the seal would come to his senses in a moment or two, too. I took the washcloth off of my neck and wrung most of the cold water out and wiped my face moist with the still damp washcloth. When I sat the washcloth down on the edge of the sink he had already put the toothpaste on the brush and had wetted it under the faucet. I shut off the faucet and brushed and then turned the faucet back on to rinse the toothpaste out of my mouth and then shut off the faucet once more. I stared into the mirror over the sink and examined myself. I realized that I was naked.

I returned to the bedroom to dress. The seal had laid my cleanest shirt and slacks on the bed but was nowhere to be found. I dressed and walked out and, again, he was seated on the couch. I picked up the newspaper off of the coffee table. The elastic had been removed; it had already been opened. Yesterday's news. I took a sweater from the coat rack and put it on and then walked outside into the crisp fall air. It had come early this year. I lit a cigarette and began walking down the driveway and then continued down the street into the morning sunshine. I had forgotten to turn off the television. I hoped he would remember.

When I returned from my walk with a shopping bag in my hand he was outside, raking leaves. I decided this would be as good of a time as any. I clubbed him over the head with the same shovel I used to bury him. He didn't make a sound. He knew it wouldn't have made a difference even if he had. Seals are remarkably intuitive creatures. He had asked me after breakfast if I would buy more tea for tomorrow. I didn't answer him and it was then that he knew.

At first I considered eating him but I didn't know nearly enough about seals to know what to throw away and what to eat.  "Tender seal fillets” sounds much better in your head than in internet searches. And besides, it wasn't even eleven by the time I put the shovel down the first time.

After tamping the remaining squares of sod into place I put the shovel down for the last time and then looked at my hands. Calloused and earthen, they looked like the hands of a blue collar, hard working man. I picked up the shopping bag and walked inside and sat down at the kitchen table. I removed the box from the bag and stood up and turned on the kettle. I returned to the table until the kettle whistled.

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