Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 97

Although he hadn’t actually seen one in many years, Gilberto de Castro found himself one sunny March day thinking about horseshoe crabs. How, years ago, they would cover the beach, especially around mating-time, like an invading army of miniature tanks. He’d heard on the radio that this year the horseshoe crabs might return for the mass spring mating. The bay was cleaner now than it had been in a long time. Maybe soon you’d be able to fish here; at one time he’d catch bucketfuls and grill them on the beach for all his neighbors to share. ​ il knew that this idle reverie, this crab-mating vigil, was a way of running from G his present situation. He was an 87 year old widower about to be thrown out of his house, in front of which he now sat: a bungalow with fading blue clapboard and windows reinforced with plastic against the ocean winds. He needed to remove the plastic for the summer. Not to do so would be to admit that it didn’t matter anymore. He came from hardy Celtic stock, face ruddy and smooth like many in Galician Spain, where he was born. Hardheaded people too. Many had given up on that boggy land, migrating to Cuba and South America, and here to New York, a few like Gil finally landing in this wooded outpost of the city. They had founded a cooperative, naturalist colony and called it Spanish Retreat. ​ he daydream of returning horseshoes was broken by the sound of a car pulling T into Gil’s gravel driveway. His daughter, Beatriz, known to everyone but himself as Bee-bee. Andrew wasn’t with her, Gil noticed, with disappointment and relief; he enjoyed his grandson’s company but was afraid the boy might be getting too dependent on him. ​ eatriz hopped out of her massive SUV and heaved its huge door closed. Every B time she jumped out, it seemed like an act of daring, the way she hesitated, looking down, before taking a clumsy leap. The point of the vehicle, he knew, wasn’t practicality but showing off.​ ​ eftly negotiating mud puddles left by a recent downpour (flooding was a D problem here), Beatriz approached her old papa. Her silvery hair and pale skin accentuated her eyes, black as punctuation. They gazed directly at him, barely acknowledging the rundown shacks, the patchwork lawns. “Hello, dad, how you feeling?” 97