I really didn’t mean to do that

By Steve Estes

I guess I’m gonna have to place myself out there for possible vehicular homicide.

No, I didn’t run over a person, and I didn’t run over a deer. I didn’t run over any endangered species.

What I did run over was a land crab.

And I swear I tried very hard not to smash the little critter.

But I think he had a death wish.

I had to run over to the Big Pine Moose Lodge earlier this week. It was of course after a day of rains when the ground was dry where man has left his mark but wet where we haven’t.

I’m not sure why it seems as though land crabs pick a certain time of the year to invade our roads, but they do, and sometimes they pay the ultimate price for their ownership of our streets.

We have four wheels on most vehicles. The crabs have a series of legs they can use to move around. We have limited mobility on our four wheels. Crabs should have unlimited mobility on their multiple legs.

So I can only deduce that there are some crabs that just have a Napoleonic complex and feel as though they must take on all comers.

I was the wrong comer that day.

I stopped at the exit to the Moose Lodge after I had done what I came to do (not imbibe alcoholic beverages) and looked both ways down Wilder Road.

There were no vehicles. And at that point there were no crabs in sight.

I pulled out.

The speed limit is just 25 miles per hour in that stretch of road so jumping on the accelerator is just a gas-wasting move. Any easy acceleration will get you out into light, and in this case non-existent, traffic.

So I eased into the accelerator.

Before I had even made the turn into the lane, a crab came shooting out from the left side.

I don’t know why. He had wide open road after I departed. He didn’t have to pick that exact moment to take the chance on becoming the next in a long line of road kill.

But he did.

I hit the brakes. The road was still clear. I thought the crab would continue on across the road and I would be out of there.

He stopped. And he stopped right in front of where my left tire would roll.

I turned the wheel right. I figured if I ran off the right side of the road I could always tell the cop that was bound to be around somewhere to see what I had done just because I did it that I was saving a life with that maneuver.

I eased back into the accelerator.

The crab scurried right. I stopped again.

I checked my rear view mirror and saw no traffic coming behind me, and the road ahead was clear. This crab had clear sailing. He didn’t want clear sailing.

I can’t read the facial expressions of a crab, but if I could, I would have guessed this one was gearing up for a fight.

He raised that big claw and took a few perfunctory swipes at my tires.

I actually backed up thinking that if the crab felt I was intimidated (sitting in my hefty piece of vehicle) it would mosey on across the road and we could end this dance where I was an unwilling partner.

It scampered closer. In fact, it got so close I couldn’t see it anymore in front of the vehicle.

It was now obvious to me that this crab was looking for a fight and had decided that since I was the only opponent available, it would pick a fight with me.

Unable to see the crab, I started easing forward. It scampered quickly to the right of the vehicle.

I thought I had an opening.

I slammed the accelerator to the floor, planning to use a self-dense defense if I got caught.

I swung the wheel left and the Jeep obediently followed.

And so did the crab.

I didn’t hear the crunch, but I knew it had occurred.

I felt bad—I really did.

With the damage already done I just continued to roll forward into the proper lane and motored off down the road.

But I couldn’t resist that one last look back.

There, exactly where my right tire had rolled through, was the crab. I hadn’t scored a direct hit for a knockout blow, I had grazed his right legs.

He spun around in the middle of the road on his remaining good legs and I swear he either saluted me as a worthy opponent, or gave me the crab equivalent of a single-digit salute.

His anger, or respect, whichever it may have been, was short lived.

During my last round of battle with this crab with the death wish, a truck had come motoring up Wilder.

As the crab raised his large claw in whatever motion it may have been, the truck smashed him into the asphalt.

I was sorely tempted to climb out of the Jeep and erect a monument for this courageous little crustacean.

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