Lobster Man clutches a smooth leather briefcase locked into the crook of his claw. The handle jangles in the exoskeleton of his right hand, clanging around in the negative space between two mismatched pinchers.
He wears a slick, sharp suit, impeccably tailored, that smells faintly of mildew, dead water, and spoiled butter.
Scurrying up and down the stairs of bridges and weaving through streets, he takes back alleys when he can, but is careful never to stray too far from the canals, nervously casting his bulbous eyes now and again this way and that to ensure that murky water is always within view.
Every so often, he’s compelled to cast a longing glance down towards the water beneath, but he doesn’t dare to take the plunge into unknown territory, not until he finds a familiar stone, a decipherable face that means he made it home.
Suddenly he trips, miscalculating the distance between the cracked steps on a hundred year old footbridge. He falls, and as he orients himself to his new, horizontal position, the shadow of a woman, tall and barbed like a minaret, falls over him.
He looks up, the misgivings of his mind spelled out plain as day across his face. The claw of his hand is still locked, as if fastened by a band of rubber from which he can't trick out.
The woman slowly lifts a shapely calf, the hem of her grey pencil skirt riding up over the bald skull of a kneecap, skimming an ivory thigh.
She drops her raised foot, the sharpened heel of an Italian-made pump piercing into the man's claw, deliberately and with gusto.
A sickening, crunching sound is heard, like someone pensively chewing glass. A not-so-subtle look of pleasure continues across her face as salty water spews out of a jagged gash.
Lobster Man’s ruptured claw springs open, and the woman snatches the case and turns brusquely away, disappearing around a corner, taking her shadow and the odor of perfume and sea salt with her as he watches her figure turn around a corner and disappear.
Resting his good hand on the stony wall of the canal, he finally lowers himself, slowly, watching his suit darken as it absorbs water, the capillaries expanding and growing heavier as the liquid rises up and up to his throat.
He lets go of the walls, of the city, and takes a final, unconvinced gulp of air before dipping his head in and falling gracelessly to the bottom. Swaying this way and that like a ghostly krill, Lobster Man blinks among the bubbles as he struggles to breathe the water of this new world.
First his tail, then his back, then each of his ten legs hit the bottom of the canal. They produce a muffled, metallic ping when they make contact with the ground, which is surprisingly quite slick, not soft and muddy as he imagined it would be.
The warmth of the water provides an intoxicating calm, silencing his manic thoughts and lulling him into a tranquil state of meditation while a creamy white film slowly glazes his eyes.
As the water begins to roil, tossing him around the pot, his body slams from wall to wall. Despite the violence of the water, the shock of an unfamiliar environment, a smile grew and grew on his reddening face.
This feels nice, he thought.
Words + Art by Renata Certo-Ware
Lobster: Carved Wood + Ink by Renata Certo-Ware