Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 2
Out on the water’s edge of
the vast open lake in Terry’s pasture, I grabbed the bait out of the fridge
in his trailer. That time, raw chicken thighs, and the time before, old
steak, gone a little too far south of Brookesville in the heat of July. I
came back out, and Terry had managed to drink a few more beers, and pull out
the tiny Yamaha motor boat without falling over, an accomplishment indeed.
He liked to call the boat “The Gator Pontoon.” It had enough room for him, a
“first mate,” and one of the juvenile four-footers that liked to slip onto
his property now and again.
Terry wasn’t easily bothered; he was more than content to laze around most of the day either sitting on his porch watching the grass grow with his beagle Charlie, or make wonderful pieces of furniture, all the while sipping on something here or there. He was one of those strange phenomena--the man couldn’t spell his own name, but give him thirty seconds to look through your house, and without measuring anything, or taking time to think, he could cut you crown molding that fit perfectly into all the seams of the walls in your house.
As we pushed the boat out onto the lake, it floated gently, drifting weightlessly without springing a leak, as it often would. We both hopped in and started gliding over the water, the old motor puttering away, to the center of the lake. The water was wretched in the summer, spawning mosquitoes and smelling of garbage. We reached the center and immediately threw down anchor. Tossing in the warm chicken, we made sure to get all of the blood and juices out of the bucket that we could. Within fifteen minutes we had some fish getting interested and within an hour, we had a four-and-a-half footer surface about ten feet from the boat. We saw the sword rack on its back first, and then the gleam of its glass bead eyes. Terry picked up the rifle, and, without hesitation, fired two shots into the beast’s head. The first shot killed it; the second one was “just out of plain spite.”
Terry pulled the trophy over the side of the boat and we puttered slowly back to shore. By the time we reached solid ground, the gator’s memories had completely poured out staining the bottom of the boat as well as my right sock through a tear in my galoshes, which I didn’t end up noticing until my stepmother was doing laundry a few hours later.
Hauling the dinosaur of a creature out of the boat was much harder than I had imagined. It was very dense for something a little over half-a-foot shorter than I was tall. I can only wonder how odd it must have looked to the passers-by, watching a ten-year-old city boy drag a dead alligator out of the water to the side of the dusty dirt road.
As we inspected the carcass, I noticed a bronze-colored ingot stuck onto one of its bottom teeth. It read:
8 Lambeth Rd.
Terry quickly snatched the trinket from my tiny hands and pushed it into his front pocket. With one fast, fluid movement he slung the gator up over his shoulder with the rifle slung over the other, and we both walked home our separate ways.
© Bryce Manubay