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Tank Full Of Hellbenders

When I was still in grade school my parents would take us out on weekends into the real world where actual learning happened. We would hike and camp and climb mountains and swim and fish. One of the places we would stop for bait when we went fishing was at the crossroads of highways 6 and 283. It was called Four Corners Bait Shop, a very cool place.

What made it cool was a galvanized water tank full of salamanders the proprietor was raising and selling for fishing bait. Hellbenders locals called them. Looking into the tank of writhing Hellbenders it was difficult to match heads and tails of individuals even though it was easy to see heads and tails because they were everywhere in the tank. It was mesmerizing to watch.

And as I stared into the tank I was seized by an overwhelming urge to climb in and mingle with the squirming little creatures. I've never understood where that urge came from or why it would even arise, but it did and it was as compelling a sensation as any I've ever felt in my lifetime.

Those were happy childhood days wrapped up by evenings after suppertime watching episodes of Twighlight Zone and Outer Limits. Weirdness was wholly appealing to me. That's as close as I can come to explaining the urge.

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