Turmoil has struck the Sienkiewicz household.

With summer vacation only days away, our nine-year-old won her third-grade class’s pet crayfish in a blind raffle. We now have a very aggressive little crustacean living in an inverted cake box on the kitchen island. His new home is transparent polystyrene plastic, which affords him a clear view of his prey (me). He follows as I circle the kitchen island, and rises on his back appendages—pincers at the ready—when I lower my face near the box.

I can’t imagine what would happen should he spy me eating a sandwich or—heaven forbid—a lobster.

At school his name was John Doe, but once at home, our daughter renamed him “Striker.” She can’t explain how she came up with that handle (I call him crawfish touffe), but the name she chose does fit. My wife keeps telling me “Let him pinch you, let him pinch you,” but I refuse, because I don’t want him to develop a taste for flesh. Especially if it’s mine.

In case you’re wondering, the teacher threw in a bag of Shrimp Pellets—Official Crayfish Food—and a hastily drafted sheet of instructions. He’s to get one BB-size pellet at dawn, and one at dusk. I’m convinced they’ve been laced with testosterone, considering his feisty demeanor.

We had to sign a note that granted approval for our youngster to participate in the raffle. At first I declined, but later agreed under the condition that if she won, we’d release the creature in the local farm pond a few hundred yards from our home. I was sure she wouldn’t win, anyhow. How could she? And if she did, her prize, ultimately, would become one fat and happy little crayfish.

I made the mistake of not stipulating exactly WHEN he’d be emancipated. In the absence of an articulated schedule, my compassionate kid promised her best girlfriend that she could have a summer play-date at our house to visit the crayfish. She had to, she explained; her best friend was nearly in tears because she did not win Striker in the raffle.

Because Striker is nocturnal, my wife created a shelter for him by cutting an opaque plastic drinking glass in half from top to bottom, and placing it in the cake box so that it resembles an airplane hangar. I’ll be damned if he didn’t take to it immediately. He backs into it like a radar cop slipping behind a billboard. I have a rubber crayfish in my fishing tackle box. I considered giving Striker a friend, but somehow it just seems so wrong.

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