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Kreg Hasegawa

The New Crustacean


I looked at the new crustacean one more time. It lay in the palm of my hand. My fingers were dark and crooked, fingers of an old hag. The crustacean’s little black eyes glared at me. I had named it after myself. I felt entitled. I had discovered it, though I concede I hadn’t researched others of its class. Documentation no longer interests me.
          If I told you about myself, you’d never be further from the truth. Not that I exist only in the imagination—most certainly not. On that score my resolve has strengthened. I also do not mean that I am a sort of reasoning lie. That would imply that I am also conscious of the truth. No, I am determined entirely by context. Here I am a father, a brother, a lover, a friend, and now, an enemy. All this has become quite clear to me.
          I was on the train to Portland, to visit my sister. The sunshine and the clicking of the rails lulled me into a comfortable half-sleep. Houses flew by. A lumber yard. Huge smoke stacks. Fences. A forest. Later, I was eating a cucumber sandwich and drinking a cold can of seltzer. A little girl climbed into the seat next to me. She reached out and touched my arm. Her fingers were soft and warm. She looked at me. Her eyes were green. Her mother appeared and took her by the sleeve. Leave the nice man alone. I was alone again.
          The rails stretched on and I opened the newspaper. It was the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. There was a profile on the employees at Hanford, who produced the plutonium that went into the making of Fat Man. They were proud to be part of something larger than themselves. I didn’t understand that. I always wanted to be part of something small.
          The conductor announced the name of the next town but it came out garbled. Unintelligible, OR. The train stopped. I got off to stretch my legs. At least that’s what I say now that it’s convenient. It was a small town, hardly worth the stop. I realized I had been here before, when I was a boy. There was a national park five miles outside of town where my family had camped. A large lake was its main attraction. We swam in it, and my father and I did some fishing. The women, as my father would refer to my mother and sister, went to town to shop.

KREG HASEGAWA lives in Seattle. He has co-edited Monkey Puzzle, a literary magazine, and has curated a reading series at the now defunct 1506 Projects Art Gallery. His work has appeared in Sal Mimeo, The News, Spring Formal and Greetings. He is currently working on a degree in Library Science. A chapbook is due out this winter.

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