Man with a Van
I have strict writing schedule. I rise at six and spend the first forty-five minutes, or so, on the porch. In the dark. As February wanes to March, sunrise comes earlier. The man-with-the-van is usually fishing off the marina pier before I settle with my morning coffee—New Orleans French this morning—on the porch.
At first the man-with-the-van seemed nervous when he noticed the low lights on in my condo, possibly illuminating my profile. He moved to a pier farther down the marina, so I would have to turn my head to see his dark shadow standing with his fishing pole. I was a little nervous myself—remember Rear Window? There is a No Fishing sign at the marina. Perhaps he worried I would turn him in. Then one day, when he pulled out in his van, he tapped the horn twice. I took it as a buddy-tap; partners in crime.
As I ripen, I seem to be more and more sensitive to animal life. After all, I have a cat, Livia, who has full command of the English language. So, this morning, when the man-with-the-van caught a fish, I watched. The fish fought valiantly, but the man-with-the-van reeled him in. He turned his back and knelt down, removing the hook, I assumed. By now it was growing light. I waited for the plop which would tell me a wiser fish was returned to his home. But no plop. This little fish would not turn up at school today. He would not see his family and friends again. I was distressed. The man-with-the-van had caught his dinner.
Science tells up lobsters cannot feel pain. But when they are tossed alive into boiling water, do they sense their doom? Do they feel fear? Once on the highway, a flat-bed truck carried tons of open wire cages stuffed with white-feathered chickens. Highway wind battered their cages, and pretty white feathers flew off the chickens like snowflakes.
There is no doubt in my mind. When a fish can ruin my day, I know I am not far from a full-fledged, card-carrying vegan!