Rocky, and The Last Slide.

A few years ago there was a little hard-shelled smiling fella that used to rip creature’s legs off.

Meet Rocky. That’s what my son named him.

A friend at work years ago told me that her big turtle had little turtles. She asked me if I wanted one. I had never had one, so I said sure. He came to work in an inch of water, in a little plastic fruit dish, with a snap-on lid, with holes poked in the top. He wasn’t much bigger than a half dollar.

In this picture he was just a few months old. He grew to be quite a big bigger.

We fed Rocky normal store-bought turtle food. We occasionally fed him lettuce. He’d nibble at the greens, but we could tell he wasn’t overly interested.

What Rocky really loved was bugs.

In Texas we have an onslaught of… what I’ve grown up calling Japanese Beetles, but they may actually be something else. I’d go outside, cringe, catch one in a Solo cup, bring it in the house with my hand over the mouth (praying that it wouldn’t flitter around and TICKLE MY HAND YUCK), lift the lid of Rocky’s tank, and throw it in. I did all of this as quickly as I possibly could.

Rocky liked other insects, too. We would catch him crickets too. For some reason in the summer they like to gather around outside Wal Mart in the dark. (I used to leave Bud to catching those. THEY HOP TOO MUCH.) I even caught a grasshopper one time, when Rocky was bigger, and presented that to him. He ripped it apart like it was nobody’s business.

My daughter and I marveled at his knowledge. Here he was, a ferocious killer (albeit the size of my palm now), and he had not been raised around other turtles. Yet he knew to rip off the grasshopper’s rear legs first, so that he couldn’t hop away up onto the rocks in the tank. He knew to drag the grasshopper underwater, and beat it against the rocks, and…

…well, I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details.

As Rocky grew, we started feeling a little bad for him. He didn’t have any other turtle buddies to live with. We discussed it with my son, and he agreed to take him down to “turtle creek.” (Yes, it is really called that.) So one afternoon my husband and son brought little Rocky to The Turtle Meetup to hang and be with his kind… or, possibly, to meet his demise. We’ll never know; but I’d like to think that death wasn’t in his immediate cards.

They drove along the road that followed the creek and stopped in a turtle-infested place. Down at the water, my son started taking a video. My husband put Rocky down at the top of the concrete embankment next to a spot on the river that had a walkover bridge. The concrete was slanted at about a 45 degree angle down to the water.

I watched the video once or twice–which I guess means at some point Dylan mailed it to me. Rocky took a step, then another step, then another… then he was SLIIIDING down to the water. Then “plop,” at the bottom he went into the water. Then he swam under.

That was the last we saw of Rocky.

I’ve got random videos and photos of Rocky; but I have been looking like crazy the past few days for that one video… and I can’t find it. I’m kicking myself. My son can’t find it either. After talking about Hemingway in a post earlier this week… it reminds me of his lost suitcase.

The turtle video has to be out there somewhere…



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Author: Susan Pitman

Susan is an artist who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Texas. She writes songs, short stories, and books. You can follow @kitykity on Twitter.

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Rosie Maloney
Rosie Maloney

Love the one about kinds of love, so true!
It’s so important to learn the other ones style of receiving love!
And giving that!