Tox City

The Portuguese Man O’War has been washing up on the shores of South Florida with great frequency. Normally they only litter the beach when a violent storm corrals them to shore, but for some reason they have decided to invade Miami’s beaches the past balmy week.

The Portuguese Man O’War are like the most vividly, surreal water balloon only they are filled with venom. They are beautiful. The deepest purples to match the colors of the tropical oceans they descend from. They are the bluest blue of a femme fatale’s eyes, and just as treacherous.  If you step on one your foot will feel the pain of a thousand gun shots and a rash of the reddest degree will remind you of their power.

Although they are very potent I always thought if you watched your step, unlike the wasp with it’s mighty sting they would not come after you. As they dry up they generally lose their color and their danger until they fade into the color of the sand. But this past Valentine’s Day I learned of their further reach.

Early in the morning I woke up to the sound of a car alarm. It annoyed me, but I willed myself to sleep through it. Then around Noon I went out to my car. I heard the sound of glass cracking underneath my shoe before I saw the back windshield of my Ford Explorer. Someone had obliterated the back window to steal my bicycle. It was my car alarm that I had been cursing at several hours earlier. 

Fortunately, they did not take my tennis racquets or my several hundred CDs I stupidly keep in my car. But then I remembered the Portuguese Man O’War doesn’t play tennis, nor does it have ears to listen to music. It does have tentacles though which could conceivably be used to bike around Miami Beach. 

It had to be a man o’war. No human being in my fair city of Miami would have so little respect for private property to cost me hundreds of dollars so they could get something to sell for fifty dollars worth of crack rock, right?


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