Ever since Roche Bros. in West Roxbury re-opened its seafood department before Valentine's Day, one lobster went unsold: The biggest of them all, a lobster so large the other lobsters crowded around the edges of the tank just to stay away from him, so large that shoppers would bring their kids over to see him.
The poor plight of the lobster began to bother some people over in Roslindale, who used a neighborhood Facebook group to ponder doing something about Larry's fate - yes, of course they named him Larry.
This afternoon, after several days of discussion, Karen Kane walked into Roche Bros. - armed with donations and promises of funds from several kind-hearted Roslindale residents and a couple of parents at the Haley School, where she teaches and where they gave her some money today after they heard she wanted to liberate Larry.
Kane said she just couldn't abide the thought of a creature that might be 50 years old ending up stuck in a tank like that rather than spending its life in the cold water at the bottom of the sea.
Kane told a seafood worker she was there to buy Larry so she could set him free. One of the guys got him out with that rake thing and weighed him - he came in at about 5 1/3 pounds - as other seafood workers and other workers manning a table handing out free fried-scallop samples watched.
The seafood guys put him in a box with some damp newsprint.
Kane and her neighbor, Lucy Bullock-Singer, took him up front to the checkout and a cashier who rang up the nearly $95 sale.
The two - and a reporter they graciously agreed to take on the journey - put Larry in the back of Bullock-Singer's car for the ride to freedom, which in Larry's case meant the waters off Columbia Point, behind the Boston Teachers Union headquarters, to be exact.
Bullock-Singer carried Larry down to the rocks at the water's edge while Kane carried a bowl with three cans worth of tuna in it - she figured Larry would be mighty hungry after two months in a tank with nothing to eat.
Bullock-Singer used the scissors they'd brought to cut the elastic bands that had long bound Larry's claws - and what appeared to be electrical tape that was also applied to his oven-mitt-sized claws - while Kane emptied the bowl of tuna into the water where they'd soon release Larry:
Kane carefully picked Larry up and, after saying goodbye to him, gently put him down in the water, just barely deep enough to cover him and the tuna he now sat on top of, in a tiny little cove not much larger than he was:
And then, well, Larry just sat there. A couple of marine biologists had assured the women that the move from basically room temperature to the much colder ocean water would not hurt Larry - he is, after all, cold blooded and has a hard shell - but was he sitting there getting used to freedom, or eating the tuna or just dying in front of us?
We watched him for about ten minutes. Occasionally, we'd see him move a leg or even a claw, but he was awfully still.
And then, a small wave came in. Maybe it had the scent of something he likes or made him realize he was no longer a prisoner in a tank. He straightened out and began to scuttle forward, out towards the open water, scattering tuna flakes in his wake.
In a couple of minutes, he was past the rocks and out of view - he was, again, able to seek his own destiny.