Chiasson: Despicable

What is happening in this world? Wars, plague, famine, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes. Now this, as reported by the Associated Press last Tuesday.

“Authorities arrested a 24-year-old man who is accused of stealing 166 pounds of crawfish from a seafood store Friday morning.

“The St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office said Anthony Chauvin of Lutcher was booked that same day with single counts of theft of crawfish and criminal damage to property.

“Deputies said about $500 worth of mudbugs were reported missing from an outside walk-in cooler at Miko’s Seafood around 5:15 a.m.

“Maj. Sid Berthelot said Monday someone cut a padlock to the cooler.

“He added none of the crawfish was recovered from the theft.”

Now this story inevitably leads to all sorts of questions.

One: Where are the crawfish?

Two: Are they alive or dead?

Three: Do the police have any leads as to where they are?

Four: Where have the police searched for those poor critters?

Five: Who names their business Miko?

OK, OK, I’m kidding.

But this article reminded me of all the crawfishing trips I took with my Grandpa Gus, God bless his soul. And it reminded me of the time he and my Uncle Bobby stole crawfish.

It was about a million years ago, when I was 20, and we went to Vacherie. This is when we lived in Marrero and it as a long trip to take for mudbugs. But we were diehards when it came to crawfish and, somehow, Grandpa Gus had heard about this place on the river batture.

Accompanying us was my best bud, Larry Dupont, and after we got there, baited the nets and dropped them in the water, we all popped a beer. (It probably wasn’t our first brew since it was a long trip from Marrero to Vacherie and it was late – about 6:30 a.m.)

Now, we have always been a competitive family and we decided we would alternate picking up the nets with two-member teams. The team that hauled in the most crawfish earned bragging rights. Larry and I went first, Larry holding the tub and me picking up the nets. We ran about 20 nets and caught a nice bunch of crawfish. Then we drank another beer and it was Grandpa Gus and Uncle Bobby’s turn. When they got back, they had double the crawfish Larry and I had caught. It was inexplicable. Same nets, same bait, different results.

This horror was repeated two or three times until Larry and I were on our fourth run. Larry was picking up a net when my foot hit something in the water. I looked down and what do you think I saw? A crawfish trap. An almost empty crawfish trap! And I immediately knew the truth. My grandpa and uncle were low-down rotten crooks. And worst of all, they were beating Larry and me.

When we returned, we told them what we discovered and you know what, they both looked like little angels as they denied any wrongdoing. Both of those stinkers. And there was nothing Larry or I could do about it. Their crawfish was already in their sack and our sack was pitifully small next to theirs. It was like a Russia election. We knew they had cheated, but we couldn’t prove it.

But here is where the story really gets good. In the distance, we noticed a man working his way through the willow trees as he picked up his traps. Every trap was full to the brim. Until he got to our (his) trap. He picks it up and nets, oh, maybe 12 crawfish. Now I’m ready to jump in the car and head out before the bullets start flying and so are Larry and Grandpa Gus. But my uncle, a born salesman, and a salesman in real life, wades over to the man and starts talking to him. They are in the distance and we can’t hear, but I’m thinking, “Ain’t nothing good can come of this, ‘cept maybe I don’t have to worry about classes at LSU if I’m dead.”

After a few minutes of animated discussion, Uncle Bobby and the man walk over, all smiles and friendly like. Uncle Bob introduces him and they are like bosom buddies. How this happened I never figured out. They even exchanged phone numbers, drank a beer together, and before Larry and I knew it, the man was off and Uncle Bobby and, now, Grandpa Gus, were all smiles.

All I know is my uncle, lowdown stinker that he was that day, had No. 1, put on a sales show that went down in history; No. 2, the man who owned the traps sold a mess of crawfish for some slick words and a beer; and, No. 3, all’s well that ends well.

As this column shows.