Weeks later we came home from Vahalla’s Steak House to find Keanu’s kiddie pool empty. Our dog Maxwell stood sheepishly by my side, as Dad used a flashlight to search the yard.
I heard my Dad mutter, “Oh no”, and my stomach lurched. My Dad walked toward me with Keanu in his hand. Our dog Maxwell, an Akita, had taken a bite out of Keanu’s shell. In fact, half of his shell was missing and his little internal organs sagged from the mangled orifice.
My Dad worked quickly, shouting orders at my mother and I: “Saran wrap”, “Scissors”, “Fibreglass”, and “Stat!” I held Keanu while my Dad performed the intricate operation. He used a small square of Saran wrap to cover the internal organs, and then patched the shell using bright red fibreglass. He moulded and smoothed the fibreglass with a putty knife. My Dad earned his Hero status that night.
Keanu survived the ordeal, and my Dad was very proud of his “little miracle”. He had a soft spot for Keanu (and for his namesake) and he would often take Keanu out of the kiddie pool and let him wander the yard while he did his yard work. And when my Dad was finished outside he would spot Keanu’s bright red shell and return him to the pool.
But one day my Dad couldn’t find Keanu. He came inside and asked me if I had seen him. I had been watching “The Golden Girls”, so I shook my head no. We went outside to search the proximity. Keanu was nowhere to be found. I shed a tear, and then I went back inside to watch TV.
Weeks past and I forgot about Keanu. Until, one day my mother picked up the local newspaper. In the “Found” section it read: Found… An Unusual Turtle. My mother called the number and spoke with the woman of the house. She said they had found this “unusual turtle” right in front of their house. Her kids had named him Bart, and they had taken him along on their family camping trip.
My mother asked if this “unusual turtle” had a shell that was half bright red fibreglass. It did. My mother and I walked the three blocks from our house to pick up Keanu, our delinquent turtle.
The kids all came to the door to say goodbye to Keanu. I knew that they loved him more than I did, and deserved him more than I did. But he was mine, so I took him home.
A few weeks later, Keanu was out sunning himself on the lawn, when the “accident” occurred. Dad was out mowing the lawn. He would mow diagonally, in a diamond pattern, to enhance our home’s curb appeal.
Dad was so caught up in his pattern that he failed to see Keanu’s bright red fibreglass shell in the tall grass, and he ran Keanu over with the lawn mower.
Dad came inside to tell me the bad news. Keanu’s shell had been cut up badly by the blades, but Dad was confident that he would make it. He was a survivor after all.
We gently placed Keanu back in the kiddie pool. He was very still. I picked him up and attempted to nurse him to life: shoving food pellets down his beak. Then I knocked on the shredded shell, as if to ask if anyone was home. Keanu’s eyes slowly closed, and he was dead.
My Dad shifted back and forth on his weight, unsure of what to say. He gave me a pat on the head and walked off. I went inside to ask my mom for a shoebox, for the standard pet burial. She and my sister followed me outside for the ceremony. I promised them both I would keep it short.
I held up the shoebox for my Dad to see and he looked sheepish. I asked Dad where Keanu was. He told me he had thrown Keanu over the fence. He insisted that nature should, and would take its course.
I bowed my head and prayed a little pray for Keanu, my pet.