Takes a Walk
Danny," the letter began, "I'll be coming home in just a week,
now. And I have a surprise for you."
Mr. Burcaster had been away in Asia on a business trip for
several months. The week seemed to drag along, but at last
Danny's father was home.
here's the surprise," Mr. Burcaster said, unwrapping a big
package. There, in a tank, two fish were swimming. They looked
like catfish, but they were a creamy white.
those are cool. What are they?" Danny asked.
catfish -- but a special kind." Danny's father lifted one
of the catfish out of the tank and placed it on the floor.
do that, Dad," Danny shouted. "It's gonna die!"
But the catfish did not seem to mind being out of the water.
It wriggled and flopped across the floor, using its front
fins to help it along.
is a walking catfish," Mr. Burcaster said. "He can breathe
Danny had fun playing with his walking catfish. But soon they
grew too large for the tank. Danny put them into the fish
pond in back of the house.
Each day Danny went out to the pond to feed the fish. He sprinkled
bread crumbs into the water. Minnows and goldfish swam up
to the surface to snap at the bread crumbs. So did the two
After a while, Danny noticed that there weren't as many minnows
and goldfish as there used to be. As the weeks went by, there
were fewer and fewer. But the two catfish were always there.
Then one day there were no more small fish. And the next day
the catfish were gone, too. "What happened to them, Dad?"
said Mr. Burcaster, "I guess the catfish ate the smaller fish.
And the catfish -- maybe they took a walk."
Sure enough, a few months later Danny got a phone call from
his cousin, Billy Joe. "Remember those catfish of yours?"
Billy Joe began. "Well, there's some just like them over by
Danny raced over to Jones Creek on his bike to get a look
at the catfish. He saw them all right -- dozens of them.
Soon people all over the county were talking about the strange
white catfish that were popping up everywhere. People spotted
them in ponds and streams. They even saw catfish walking along
the roads. Wherever the catfish went, other fish disappeared.
When there was nothing more to eat in a pond, the catfish
just hopped out and walked away.
Soon the catfish invasion was on the radio and in the local
papers. County officials were calling it an emergency. The
new catfish were easy to catch and good to eat, but new catfish
were being born all the time and spreading everywhere. And
people missed the trout and bass and other fish they used
Danny felt terrible. It was all his fault. Then his father
came back from another business trip. This time he had been
in South America. "Now look what I've brought you," he said.
they snails?" Danny asked.
they're hermit crabs," Mr. Burcaster explained. "They live
in empty snail shells. And they carry the shells around with
them wherever they go. You'll have fun watching them change
shells as they grow. Here, I've brought you a supply of bigger
Danny put the hermit crabs into his pond. They grew quickly
and changed to new shells. Then they had babies. Soon there
were hundreds of them. Then one day a pair of walking catfish
flopped into the pond and laid eggs.
Dad, look at this!" Danny called. The hermit crabs were eating
the catfish eggs.
this is the answer," said Mr. Burcaster. So Danny and his
cousin Billy Joe rode around the county on their bikes, dropping
hermit crabs into ponds and streams.
Sure enough, in the months that followed, there were fewer
and fewer walking catfish in the county.
But then the local paper had an article about a new problem:
a strange new crab was eating up the vegetables in fields
As Mr. Burcaster was leaving for a trip to Africa, Danny said,
"This time, Dad, bring me back something that eats crabs."
2013 The Silversteins