by Jay Edson
I don't remember who first came up with the idea that we electrocute the frog. As I think any eleven year old would have been, I was fascinated by the little hand cranked generator that my friend David showed me. As the son of the caretakers of the resort where we took our summer vacations, David always seemed to have access to interesting things.
Perhaps the idea popped into our minds simply because the unfortunate frog happened to hop by as we were brainstorming about what new and interesting things the generator could do. Perhaps the idea was suggested by things we had heard about the use of the electric chair for executing criminals. In any case we caught a frog, attached one electrode to each foot, and began cranking. We took turns.
As I cranked the little handle, I watched the frogs body stiffen, and then tremble violently. With a growing sense of horror I realized the obvious truth: the frog was suffering.
"Lets stop," I suggested.
"Why," he asked. He was accustomed to using live frogs as bait; frog suffering had very little reality for him.
"I don't know," I said. "I just want to let it go."
He shrugged. He was mildly curious about how the frog responded to being electrocuted, but he was not inclined to make an issue of it.
I unhooked the frog and put it down in the grass. It was still alive, but quite listless. I picked the frog up and took it down to the lake where I placed it on a rock that stuck up out of the water at the shore. I splashed some water on it, hoping this would revive it. It continued to breath, but beyond that did not move. I pushed gently up and down on its back, thinking that artificial respiration might help. There was no change. It was clear that there was not much else to be done. One couldn't take a frog to the veterinarian, after all. So I splashed a little more water on it went to play with other children at the resort.
It was difficult to forget about the frog as I played. I remembered my mother saying that the one thing she could not understand, or forgive, was deliberate cruelty to helpless creatures---human or animal. I decided I would not tell her about this incident. Yet there was no escape from the question that nagged at me: "how would she feel about me if she did know?"
After a bit I drifted away from the game of capture the flag and wandered down to the shore of the lake. The frog was still spread out on the rock. It was dead. I looked up. I saw the glitter of sunshine on the water, but it did not bring me the old happiness. I was different now.