Alligator Whisperer

You are an expert at capturing alligators—they call you “The Alligator Whisperer.” Your work has helped scientists gather extensive information on the life of alligators and you are hailed as a hero in the scientific community. Everything is going great until one day the alligators start hunting you. What do you do?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

writing-prompts

Download from our shop right now!

You might also like:

284 thoughts on “Alligator Whisperer

  1. Critique

    “Fore!”
    The ball veered far to the left well short of the trio of golfers down the fairway, narrowly missed the sand pit where it dropped and rolled over an embankment towards the river.

    “That damn left swing.” Evan cussed as he jammed the 3-wood into the golf bag and joined Marc in the golf cart.

    “Hey Alligator Whisperer, you gotta chill and get your ass onto a golf course more often.” Marc focused the lens on his camera and snapped a few shots of an eagle perched in a nearby tree. “Congrats by the way on getting the gator book published.”

    “It was a joint effort man. Your photos are what’s putting sales through the roof. We’ve sold over a 1000 copies across the state in the first two weeks.” Evan’s face crinkled into a grin as he plucked a beer can from the cup holder, took a generous swig and gestured in an expansive arc at the lush green of the golf course. “This is just what I needed.”

    The cart crested the hill and down a short distance where they spotted the ball laying 15 yards from the edge of the water.

    “Go on ahead Marc.” Evan turned to grab a 7-iron from his golf bag. “I’ll catch up at the next tee.”

    Before Evan’s feet hit the ground Marc had his camera up snapping pictures. “Evan. Take a look.”

    Partially concealed in the grasses on the bank and uncomfortably close lay a large alligator facing them.

    “That guy’s gotta be 11 feet long.” Evan observed. “Probably 800 pounds plus.”

    Marc manoeuvered the cart a few feet closer, snapping pictures with his free hand.

    “Give me the camera.” Evan focused using the close-up lens. “This guy was in our last photo shoot I’m sure of it. Most of the top right teeth are missing.”

    “What the….” Marc braked suddenly and pointed. “There’s another one and over there, two more.”

    “We have a congregation.” Evan handed the camera back to Marc.

    Astonished, the men watched the quartet of reptiles conjointly from all directions, charge with frightening speed towards the cart.

    “Let’s get outta here.” Marc slung the camera strap over his neck and switched the cart to reverse. Nothing happened.

    Marc frantically toggled the forward and reverse switch. “It’s not working,” he said.

    Suddenly the cart clicked loudly and with sickening lethargy rolled backward up the hill.

    Fear ratcheted as the stunned men heard growls coming from the advancing crocodilians.

    “We’re gonna have to run for it.” Evan said.

    Bounding from the cart the men landed running flat out. Marc stopped, camera to his eye and rapidly snapped pictures amidst the growing volume of growls.

    “Marc! C’mon!”

    The men soon outdistanced the tiring alligators on the hill.

    Accompanying the golf course managers back to their abandoned cart, evidence of the chase showed clearly in the deep grooves in the grass. The alligators were spotted gliding in the swampy river.

    “Marc, this kind of behaviour flies in the face of everything I’ve learned and researched.” Evan wore a puzzled frown as they drove back to the clubhouse. “Those guys were acting collectively in a predatory manner – hunting us.”

    “You got that right.” Marc said.

    “Clearly my thirty years of research is far from over. The book’s gonna need an addendum.” Evan shook his head. “This is mind-blowing.”

    Marc chuckled. “Already got great shots of the chase and a spectacular one featuring the whites of your eyes.” He dug a sheet of paper from the pocket of his shorts and brandished it gleefully at Evan. “Free golfing here for the rest of the season. Compliments from the management.”

      1. Critique

        They could be headed for another encounter with the crocodilians especially if they keep golfing that course 🙂 Thanks for the comment – glad I squeezed this one in before the next prompt. I hadn’t thought of a part two, hmm. Maybe 😉

    1. Observer Tim

      I think Mark and Evan’s real problem is going to be getting anyone to believe them, even with photo evidence (think Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom or Disney’s True Life Adventures). In nature, kill stealing and ganging seem to be more typical group styles, though everything is open given that we know very little about how and when they hunt. Great story, Critique.

      The only thing that strikes me as unbelievable here is “Free golfing for the rest of the season.” Unless it’s nearly the end of the season. 🙂

      1. Critique

        Thanks Tim. The Alligator Whisperer’s notoriety (and I’m assuming he’s a bit of a celebrity in those parts) could influence the generosity of the golf course management, otherwise the offer is suspect for sure 😉

  2. Bushkill

    Not again. Not ever again. I hate this backwater muckery. I tap the railing of my ship, the sound echoing through the fog and down the ship’s length. She wasn’t very big, really. The blunderbuss next to me in the bow is more about scraping unwanted boarders off her decks than cracking hulls.

    But she was quick under sail. Gods she could move! On the open seas with only a whisper of air she could dance a merry waltz around anything else afloat.

    I wasn’t on the ocean, though. I was wading through a pea-soup fog in the backwaters of equatorial such and such looking for a fabled city of gold.

    What a lousy assignment.

    Everything out here bit. I had a plethora of mosquito bites on my arms, across my neck, down my legs. It was maddening. Yesterday, a crewman fell off the Jolly Roger and a swarm of fish no bigger than my hand tore every ounce of flesh from him in seconds.

    Then there were the gators. Nasty, toothy, humorless beasts. The lot of them. I tapped the rail again, itching to fetch the watch I lost a couple of weeks ago. Family heirloom, that, lost to a pup barely into his whiskers who threw it in to this black mire. Backstabbing little twit.

    I can see their eyes just above the surface watching me as we pass. Lecherous lizards, “I could use a new hilt and scabbard for my sword you worthless reptiles!” I scream. There are several plopping sounds as eyes disappear below the surface, a distant slithering as others move into the water, and one Tick-Tock.

    “SMEE!!!! The time! What’s the time?”

    I know there is a dock on the bank here to tie up to and since I can’t see, I have to sail by clock and guesswork. A shape forms in the fog on the right and the dock appears.

    “I want armed lookouts – crow’s nest, quarterdeck, and forecastle. If that rat faced punk shows, shoot him.” Silence. “Smee? Did you hear me?”

    “Yes, Captain, except this fog has got the powder all wet and the boys can’t see nothing and likely as not hit you, Captain, sir.”

    Blithering incompetents!

    I jump to the dock and start forward when he steps out, smiling, “Hey Captain. How’s the hook?”
    I reached for my sword, instinctively, but come up empty, the hook on the end of my arm clanking against my belt. I draw with my opposite hand, “Look, you little weasel.”

    I brandish my sword and set my stance, but the Lilliputian nods to his cronies and they yank on a series of ropes hidden by the fog and tied to the dock. It creaks and splinters, pulled apart. I have a moment of transcendence as I float and then ‘splash!’

    I see it then, maw wide and my watch caught securely in its teeth, before the jaw closes and we descend into the dark water. I scream for Smee.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Boy that was scary read. I loved the descriptions of the fog and ship
      Little details like the missing. Hand were well crafted. Superb last minute write

      1. Bushkill

        Thanks, Tim. I hadn’t seen it yet in the others I read and thought it was the perfect time to bring Captain Hook back for another round with his nemesis.

  3. Penney

    Gators
    By Penney White
    (It’s been a while and I twisted it a little, let er’ rip and if allowed I will add the extra length of the conclusion).

    All the young Alligator heads turned toward a rushing sound in the brush. Samson slithered from the darkness panting. “He’s coming!”

    For a moment all fell silent to listen. Branches cracked, birds flushed and a loud hiss seemed to come from all corners of the swamp. Samson rose up on all four and slammed his tail against a nearby hollowed log. A lowly gong echoed all around and the Alligators rose up in unison, snouts pointing upward and at a second beat of the log all let out a guttural roar. Goliath emerged from the darkness and went to the nearby slate platform to look over his congregation.

    Toward the bank, two youngsters excited with the gathering bumped together. Threatened, they began to tussle, some didn’t notice, others knew not to budge, not to turn an eye. Within in seconds, Samson was on them snapping the neck of one, the other in shock backed into the water; all the while the respective roar continued. Samson returned to his post and swung his tail hitting the gong for silence, the congregation quieted and lowered to their bellies.

    “The treaty with the Heron is in danger,” Goliath yelled! “The Possums have become overly abundant and have started to pass on the whispering skill.”

    Several gators hissed in disgusted of the mire mention of the Possums. Mumblings of conjecture emerged from the court.

    “Fight!”

    “Run, move!”

    Hisses and guttural burping were resounding at the last comment. One gator snapped at the culprit. “Gators do not run!” He pinched at the leg of the imbecile for mentioning such a thing. The court cheered.

    Samson slammed the gong. They all silenced. “Master, continue please.”

    “We must adapt! We must team up with those we look upon as servants,” he paused to breathe deeply.

    It was disgusting to resort to such things. Alligators, the apex of the chain, reduced to starving, negotiators. Their food supply was running out. Even Goliaths personal hole was dwindling in fish supply. The Possum Whisperers were gaining strength. The Heron were loosing the protection of the Gators. Possum, notorious egg-eaters, had found a way to pass the Gators and get to the eggs. The head Heron, Jack brought gifts to Goliath for payment of promised protection. He made sure the holes and banks were kept fertilized for fish. Goliath grunted at the thought of these loses.

    He pushed back these thoughts and continued, “The Heron will be on the move at the end of the season. If we cannot guarantee a safe habitat for their return, we will have to move, retreat and start new on some distant cay or even worse move to other congregations. We know how most you young will end up if that be the case.”

    The stories had been passed down of young gators dying at the hands of other congregations. Outcast they would be. Outcasts die both abandoned and alone or, killed by others as a threatening new comer.

    “What do you propose Master,” Samson asked for the rest?

    “Jack has an idea. We will work together with the Heron! Don’t, and I will kill you myself.” This last note ended in a long evil hiss. “He comes now to explain and you will give him your respect!” Goliath turned to a nearby Cypress. “Come Jack, I promise, you are safe.”

    All the gators swayed together agitated by the entry of the strange ally. From out of the sun came Jack. His wings spread gloriously with the sun shinning between his feathers. He slowly lowered himself next to Goliath and began to talk quickly, his beak clapping occasionally as he spoke.

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m not sure whether this is a normal or eco-fable, Penney, but it is captivating. You did a nice job portraying the offhandedly brutal nature of gator “society”. Now I’m curious about what Jack’s idea is, and whether it’s a trap or not. 🙂 Please do give us a part 2. 🙂

    2. Penney

      THE CONCLUSION
      (An unfinished finish. Sorry, as a school bus driver on the side, mayham has taken over my time lately)

      “Possum Whisperers! They are the death of us and will be the end of you! We will team up and end this bain in our sides, or never see us again.”

      The Possum Whisperers they were called, once were a delicacy among the gators, their numbers small and manageable. The gators protected the Herons nest from the Possums among other rodents. It was a long lasting arrangement the Gators and Heron had.

      Somehow the Possum had gained a tactic to overcome the Gators. Playing dead had long ceased to work. They had switched power when a possum, Bertram, in a fit of fear about to be attacked by a gator, hung by a low branch and began to spin by his tail. The gator stopped his attack seemingly hypnotized by the motion. Over time and great observation the balance of power shifted. Now the Possum had an army. Several spinners distracted the gators while others would courageously jump on the snouts and wrap their tails, locking the gators jaws shut for good measure. This left a small group of gorilla possum to infiltrate the Herons nests and feast on the eggs.

      So, Jack of the Grey Heron had a plan. “You will overcome the whisperings.”

      Roars of disbelief abound. “Impossible!”

      Goliath hissed and roared loudly stepping forward, the weight of his 100 year old 19 foot long body crushing two youngsters like twigs. The congregation’s attention returned.

      “Your minds are small and your attention is short. The Heron will help you overcome this. They will whisper to you in a way that will allow you to overcome this deplorable deficiency. You will learn to ignore the Spinners and attack them before you are clamped.”

      “How,” several called out excited?

      “Yes, how Master,” Samson asked?

      Goliath again after a few breathes simply turned to Jack and in a first, bowed his snout to the Heron. Jack turned and bowed to Goliath; times were serious. Jack went on to explain their technique. Many youngsters couldn’t comprehend. This resulted in simply trusting the elders.

      The meeting ended and Goliath returned to his hole. Samson took charge of the Heron/Gator training. Although the Herons lost more eggs, the youngsters watched and learned to beat the Spinners. It was the report brought back by a few of the young about the success. Samson’s son came running, up on all fours, stopped in front of his father and dropped several dead Possum before him. “It works.” The treaty held strong.

  4. Doug Langille

    The Gators of Mars

    So, who the fiddler’s flying fig decided that Mars needed alligators anyway?

    Turns out, it was more accident that nefarious intent, though I would lean towards idiocy.

    Remember that urban legend from Old New York? How these parents gave their brat an alligator and it ‘escaped’ down the shitter into the sewers? That it must have happened more than once because there’s a veritable congregation of them under the Big Rotten Apple? More myth that fact to that legend, I suspect.

    No such luck on the Martian colony Neo Amsterdam I call home. Gators abound. They roam the subterranean aqueducts beneath the city. New Beijing reports them now too. Whether they came from my fair city courtesy of the Canals or whether they had their own idiot kids of equally idiot parents, you can make your best guess.

    Doesn’t matter much. My job is still the same: catch, spay, tag and relocate. I’ve developed a bit of a knack for it. Don’t need to use firearms or even a team. Just me, a good net and some chemical restraints– all I ever need. The Department of Martian Natural Resources is quite generous. I do my job and collect my bounty.

    Most days anyway.

    Today, I’m tromping around the atmospheric generator. The swampy red muck makes for hard going but it’s a damn-sight better than wading through the bog itself. Safer anyway.

    It’s hot and I sweat, so I’m not wearing the re-breather helmet. The air is foul-tasting and thick– a far cry from the perfect mix under the city dome. It’ll be an adjustment for the fine citizens when they start introducing Martian’s special brand of air. The have to; domes don’t last forever.

    I check my wrist display. No pings. That’s the worst part. Knowing they’re out there but not where. Some ‘Alligator Whisperer’ I turned out to be.

    The scientists reported the tags stopped working a week ago. All of them. All at once. Which is weird, because I’ve been bringing gators to this sanctuary for three years. It’s not a power source thing. It’s something else.

    Fifty-two animals at last count. A full deck.

    I find a rock to sit upon and take a break, scanning my surroundings. I see nothing but swamp fog. I hear nothing but insects– thanks again to whoever brought those along.

    They’re out there. I sense it in my gut. They’re watching me.

    I wander down to the water’s edge, where the strange flora breaks to red sand. The soil is disturbed in one spot– a small mound where it should be flat.

    My stomach sinks as I gingerly move a little soil off the top with my foot. Egg shells. So much for neutering. The sense of being watched, no, hunted, grows and I resist the urge to run.

    I see the first pair of yellow eyes rise from the bog and I know I’m cooked. A second set. A third. Growls from behind.

    For some reason, this strikes me as funny, the absurdity of it all. I sit on the bank cross-legged and wait.

    1. Observer Tim

      The other form of laughter in the face of death; you did a great job depicting that moment when a man is humbled by the nature he thought he was in control of. I am a wonderful fan of that “Aw, sh*t!” moment and this portrays it beautifully.

      I can see this being expanded into a full-blown horror movie, and it would be a lot more natural than putting a bunch of snakes on an airplane…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with Tim, the portrait of Mars you paint is bleak and dreary. That’s bad enough as it is but thenadd the gators. Sometimes in face of impossible odds it is best to declare defeat. However the human spirit gathers itself for one last moment. I see him running and possibly praying at the last moment. I’m not one to ever give up. Your story has so many thoughts of what man has done to himself once he strayed from the garden. Great job, Doug.

    2. Bushkill

      Love me a good sci-fi. I really like the way you wrote your MC, too. You can almost see him climbing the ladder of success except hubris has sawed a few of the rungs and down he falls.

  5. Reaper

    Rich Man’s Shoes

    When I lived a life of hate, they loved me.

    Always ready with their sharp toothed smiles. I laughed, with just a hint of shame, every time those green scaled monsters bit those better off than I. Until one day I decided to remove the negative from my life. Swimming, peacefully, with alligators made me decide I should try to do the same with my fellow humans.

    There were moments, in my time as the alligator whisperer, when the beasts responded to my desires and attacked the objects of my hate. Other than the press conferences and the shows, people left me alone. They knew something was off. Maybe not how I hated them, but they knew I wanted their distance.

    After the guru time, everything is different. Time on the talk show circuit and getting to know my fans. I smile now, instead of spreading my lips and showing my teeth. Now they cheer when I enter the arena.

    It is my first time back with my big green friends and they seem happy to see me. The roar of the audience startles them like it always has. Today though, they swish and sway, agitating, just like a washing machine.

    I wave to my adoring public one last time before stepping through the gate. Something is wrong here. I know more about these creatures than any other scientist alive. I also have the balls to step in with them when the others stick to the lab. That’s an old me thought. I let it go. The gators aren’t happy to see me. No matter how well they pretend otherwise.

    They know the act, they swim away from me. Their eyes hunt the audience for prey. They seek those I would gladly have fed to them a month ago. I do not point though, I let them find their own path. Part of knowing your course is leaving everyone to discover theirs. Even our animal friends.

    With no enemy to destroy on my command they turn and look back at me.

    For a moment it seems like the old act, but I read more in their eyes. I am weak. They know it. I left the path. Hate was never something I wanted in my heart, but when it was there it created a bond. Now, they need a new leader. In the savage way of the swamp, there is only one way to pick a new alpha.

    While the old one is alive.

    Especially when he has betrayed the cause.

    I hear the screams, the horror, the terror. I am at peace though. This is the wild, the way it should be. One sacrifice for mankind. One noble act for all to see, witness the nature of these creatures I know so well.

    I learn another lesson. One wise men have known for centuries. When one is free they feel no fear. Not even at the end of a weapon.

    When I turn to a life of love, they hate me.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is wonderfully shamanic, Reaper. I love the mystical and introspective writing style, and the message that turning to humanity means turning away from the primal. The whole story gives me a sense of completeness. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is a beautiful story, Reaper, written with electric energy and an understanding of nature and what happens when guidence disappears to those who have been fed with foreign thoughts to their primal behavior Strong, thoughtful and stuffed with moral images. Wow and double wow!

  6. StephanieJDaniels

    She ran as fast as she could. The earth betraying her every step, threatening to deliver her to their gaping jaws with each twist and turn.

    The trees. I need to reach the trees.

    Lungs bursting in the struggle to survive. Heart straining against her chest, leaping ahead and carving a path to safety. Sweat spraying from outstretched fingers with every stride. Droplets caught the sun and released it in a rapid fire pantomime of her life’s work. Gathering beneath her breasts, beading down her belly, and bursting from the dam forming rivulets down her legs. She was fairly certain it wasn’t just sweat weighing down her boots and she was not afraid to admit it.

    So fast. How could they have turned so fast?

    The rustling was getting closer, and she didn’t spare a glance back. She would make it or she wouldn’t.

    There it is, three, two, one.

    Leaping up she grasped the branch with her sweaty palm. Slipping almost instantly, she used her tenuous grasp to wrap her other arm, and then hook her leg around the lifeline. Clinging ferociously to the scaly branch while she gasped for air and begged her spasming muscles to grip just a little tighter. Bellowing in frustrated rage the beasts gathered beneath her. Their claws scratching at the tree, their jaws snapping with fearsome power. Catching her breath, she stared in awe at the milieu swarming beneath her.

    How could this have happened? Where did I go wrong?

    Nearly a decade of research and still she was ill prepared for this moment. “The Alligator Whisperer” once a self proclaimed title she trumpeted with pride, now felt like a funeral dirge years in the making. She was never the Whisperer, it was always them whispering, until now. Now they were the trumpeters.

    Always so sure of herself, so confident she understood these primitive creatures. What did she know? She only knew she was running out of time. Her pride and bravado had finally done her in. She watched as they continued to multiply beneath her temporary haven. Their weight slowly forcing her tree to the point of no return. She had no weapon. She prided herself on never needing them. No weapon. No phone. No hope.

    I’m a leader in my field. Crack. I’m accepting an award next week. Shudder. I have trophies. Snap.

    Her weight and their rage brought the tree down quickly. Her screams went unheard.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an exceptionally well-written take of immediate action and terror. I found myself holding my breath at several points, wondering how and if she was going to make it. It’s unusual for me to be drawn to a third-person character, but you pulled it off in style. This is definitely a candidate for “best of show” on this prompt. 🙂

    2. Critique

      Wow a tense little story! I especially liked the phrases “The earth betraying her every step, threatening to deliver her” and “so confident she understood these primitive creatures. What did she know?”

  7. cosi van tutte

    I decided to take the prompt in a different direction.

    ***

    Alice Abernale’s house stood by itself in the middle of the swamp. It was a Victorian mansion. A skinny painted lady with fading colors. It was the last of its kind.

    All of the other houses had degraded, disintegrated, and dissolved into the woods and into the swamp.

    There were days when Alice missed her neighbors and the comfortable companionship of their nearby homes.

    Then, there were the nights when the sharp-edged crescent moon hung in the sky. Those were the days when Alice reveled in her isolation.

    Tonight was one of those nights.

    Alice stepped out onto her front porch – a black haired wraith in a white nightgown. She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the swamp’s loneliness. Frogs and bullfrogs sang their mating songs. The trees whispered heavy sounds in the wind. Night birds screamed death and love and territory.

    The swamp water called to her in a wet, murky voice as warm as Southern sunlight.

    She opened her eyes and smiled. Her smile grew wide and long, full of dagger-like teeth. A wordless, voiceless joy filled her even as the rest of her body changed.

    Alice marched stiff-armed into the warm, welcoming water. She would have to get back to her house fifteen minutes before sunrise.

    But the night was new and young.

    She delighted in the swamp’s silty feel, its algaeic smell. I am home. was her last human thought.

    ***

    “Avast me hearties, yo ho! Avast me hearties, yo ho! Avast me hearties—”

    Alice reached over and shut off her Captain Hook alarm clock. She opened her eyes and took inventory of her surroundings. Alarm clock. Ceiling. Bed. Blanket.

    Dirt. Gritty hair. Dried mud streaked on her skin.

    The stale taste of swamp water.

    “And so it happened again.”

    She sighed and went into the bathroom to take a shower.

    ***

    As the hot water erased the traces of the swamp from her skin, Alice sighed again. “My life wasn’t always like this. I used to have a normal life. I used to be normal. And now…but…” She rubbed the shampoo deep down to her scalp. “But my life now…This is my fault.”

    She ducked her head back under the hot streaming water. Shampoo cascaded down her face. She swiped it away from her eyes. “I shouldn’t have trusted that man. Doctor Al Amaedus. But he was so persuasive. He promised me a life beyond this swamp, beyond my wildest dreams.”

    Tears filled her eyes. She turned and let the water wash them away. “I believed him. I was lonely. So, I believed him. I let him bite my arm. And then my life changed. I changed. But I’m still here in this swamp. And I’m still all alone. He left me alone.”

    She bowed her head and her long black hair curtained her face. “I should have killed him.” She fell silent and listened to the sound of the running water.

    Alice raised her head. “I should kill him.” She smiled. “Next crescent moon.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Oooh, curse of the were-gator; unfortunately the Greek doesn’t work as well as lycanthrope (anthrogator was the best I could come up with). This reads like a modern telling of an old bayou tale. I can see her staying in the house even after Doc Amaedus dies, giving unwary men a month of pleasure followed by a night of terror and death.

      The story begins a tale of gothic horror at its finest. 🙂

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks, OT!

        Anthrogator…hmm. It has an interesting sound to it. 😀

        This was one of those stories where I kept writing it even though I had no idea how I was going to end it. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, not only is this great, but brought to mind a true incident from two years ago when an older local woman was dragged into a canal from a high bank and lost her arm before a neighbor heard her. She denied reaching down into the canal and feeding the gators, the only way that could have happened. Hmm, I should see if her name is Alice.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, Reatha!

        Huh. Do people really feed wild gators? Seems like the sort of thing you’d want to avoid doing. Kind of like feeding a tiger out in the wild. Not the best of ideas.

        But maybe that’s just me looking at it from my Michiganian point of view. 🙂

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Cosi, if it were possible, I’d insert photos of signs from our area, including our very civilized community, warning not to feed alligators, some include the fine for doing so. Right now we have at least two 3-4 footers in a lake close by. Some years back folks, most likely Northern tourists, discovered that gators love marshmallows and that lead to lots of trouble. I’ve not seen a Please Don’t Feed Marshmallows to Alligators sign for some years.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          ‘Gaterpire’ now a new word inspired by your tale. I love these kind of stories and when I find my fingers taking over from my mind and my sub conscious starts writing, I find these superior to my other writing. I feel you know what I know, the trip in writing is worth more than the story, like a trip on an opium boat. Not that I’d tried it. Womderul tale here. What’s funny, you did little description of the house but it loomed instantly in my mind including the hanging moss in the oak trees on higher ground.

  8. changeishard

    I tell Henry to stand on his hind legs and he does. I tell him to tap dance and incredibly he does this as well. At the end of the tap solo Henry looks at me and winks. We embrace and fall to the floor curling in a ball and falling asleep. The next morning I give Henry some of my eggs and juice which he picks at with sullen eyes. “I don’t like scrambled eggs he says with petulance in his voice. “Too bad.” I reply” They are good for you.” Glaring at me he asks slowly, as if speaking to a moron “Don’t you realize Alligators lay eggs? I may as well be eating my niece Jenny or my nephew Paul.”
    I feel my eyes bulge as the reality of his complaint smacks me in the face. “I’m so sorry, I uh, I never um considered that.” I swallow hard and stammer for a way to convalesce this social gaffe. Henry and I have been friends for so long I no longer notice the long scaly body, beady eyes and mouth full of teeth. It has never mattered before that he was an Alligator. He was just Henry to me. Since the first day I saw him and charmed him to be my friend I have never considered our differences. Henry drops his fork and leans closer to my face. He smells different. Somehow more dangerous and mysterious. I feel quite small next to him and suddenly it seems we are strangers. Henry’s eyes narrow and he opens his mouth wide, wide enough to insert a bowling ball. It occurs to me the human head is rather the same size and shape of a bowling ball. I open up my own mouth and scream.

    My Mommy runs into the room holding a feather duster with her hair all done up the way she likes when she cleans the house. “What’s wrong Craig, Honey?” She asks as she crouches down to be eye level with me.”HHHenry wants to to eat mmmeeee!” I feel my face warm and wet with tears. My Mommy seems unmoved by my plight. She holds me at arms length and sighs. “Craig, Dr. Melvin said this is a perfectly normal part of losing an imaginary friend. Your mind is making him unpleasant so you don’t feel as bad about leaving him behind.”

    I want to believe her. She always makes me feel better. I want Henry to be imaginary, because if he is then it doesn’t matter that he is towering over my Mommy, it doesn’t matter that his mouth is open and there is an evil gleam in his eyes. My Mommy’s eyes grow large as she notices the shadow eclipsing us, as a smell like rotting meat permeates the air. My pants become warm and wet with urine. Henry looks at me and winks.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a chilling turnabout, Change. Here’s hoping, for Mommy’s sake, that the kid is having some kind of hallucinatory episode. Leaving it hanging there does a great job of generating a chill in the spine. I love the way you took it from realistic but strange into the creepy zone. 🙂

    2. cosivantutte

      Hi, change!

      That last line fascinates me. Is Henry serious about his threat or is he just having some fun at poor Craig’s expense because of the eggs? Honestly, I think it could go either way. Craig’s trust in Henry is sure to be damaged no matter what. 🙁

  9. Beebles

    And a bit of weekend buffoonery

    ————————-

    He considered himself a humourless individual and those who knew him agreed. Not as a child or adult had a pun, joke or amusing anecdote ever passed his lips. He was as serious as the grave. Even the other Government agents called him Cheerless Charterhouse, or CC for short. It was not given without a fee of reverence, however, as Ogilvy Charterhouse was good at his job. Damn good. The best.

    The Irish troubles had bred such men on both sides. Ogilvy’s reputation for tracking down and apprehending Fenian felons was second to none. There was no cover he could not penetrate, no hideout amongst the Gaels he did not know and his Arnman 47 repeating pistol never missed; only the first word on the Dead or Alive warrants applied when Charterhouse was given the case.

    The Croc, as Ogilvy’s current target was nicknamed, was the most malicious and challenging Fenian he had yet hunted. No Soldier or Orangeman was safe while O’Dillian was at large and the same gruesome fate awaited all of The Croc’s victims – the flaying of their skin from their bodies.

    It was, then, with a degree of trepidation that Ogilvy awoke that night to find himself chained flat on a table, face down in a darkened cellar. Vague memories of hooded men flitted through his mind like ghosts and the smell of chloroform still clung to his clothes. As his mind cleared he deduced himself rigged to a fiendish contraption of knives, weights and pulleys that, when the candle burned through the rope, he calculated would result in his excruciating demise.

    A figure stood before him. He wore a dark suit, waistcoat and bowler. A strange and incongruous pair of soft leather boots was on his feet.

    ‘So, you’re awake, Mr Charterhouse. Good. I hate to be a killing a man while he’s sleeping.’ The voice was deep as the Newry docks, the accent thicker than Cuchulain’s thighs.

    ‘You bastard, O’Dillian! You’ll get yours one day.’

    ‘To be sure.’ Croc O’Dillian agreed. ‘But today you get yours.’ So saying, he turned and lit the candle under the rope.

    Charterhouse knew he only had moments left to live. The situation was hopeless. So he decided to do something he had never done before.

    ‘Hey, O’Dillian. I know that isn’t your real name. After all, who would be called Croc O’Dillian?’

    ‘Oh no? So what would be me real name?’

    ‘Oh, I don’t know. How about Croc O’Shite.’

    The rope snapped.

  10. Cceynowa

    Part One: Mathers of the Swamp

    The algae pressed into the murky water, weighted firmly in place by the tangible swamp air. Beneath its unbroken green carpet, moving along the veins of the bayou, were fishes, snails, crayfish, and tadpoles in every stage of life. Occasionally a snake would slide from the low hanging cypress branches to swim from one dry patch to another, leaving a temporary brown scar to mark its passage. Less frequently the peaceful water would explode with a force of powerful jaws, gnashing teeth, and ripping flesh. The disturbance would send birds skyward, turtles sliding from logs, and the inexperienced fisherman scuttling to the middle of his boat.

    Mathers McMahon was not an inexperienced fisherman. He was The Fisherman in the Lower Delta Region. He stood at the rear of his small punt boat, tethering it securely at the mouth of a particularly strong deep water channel. His skin, leathered and sunned to a deep bronze, stretched tight over muscles gained from years of poling miles of Louisiana’s brackish tributaries. Few who met him for the first time believed he was over seventy. Even fewer believed that he caught alligators for a living.

    The Institute for Regeneration and Contemporary Therapy (IRCT) had contacted him a few weeks previously to obtain an amputee alligator for study. The request was unusual, but Mathers knew of a young male gator, sans his left front foreleg, who had recently moved into an obscure mangrove swamp off of Whitefog Lake.

    Steadying his stance, Mathers carefully dripped chicken blood drop by drop from a white Styrofoam cup. He paused between droplets to let the blood seep down into the muddy water and be carried along the length of the swamp. His eyes watched for the slightest ripple. His ears filtered through the constant soundtrack of the swamp to lock onto the crush of grass along the water’s edge, or the tell-tale splash of a gator’s body sliding off the muddy bank. He was so focused on the young three-legged gator that he failed to notice the large bull gator stealthy sliding along his blindside between his punt and the bank.

    Mathers’ only warning was the slight shifting of his punt half a second before the ten-foot bull leaped from the water. Mathers did what no fisherman of the swamp wished to do: he plunged beneath the algae carpet into the dark waters below. Luck saved him as he twisted away from the thrashing gator. He felt splintered fragments of his punt around him, broken and submerged by the brute’s weight. The gators claws tore at his side, bringing him pain and a chance at survival. He reached blindly for the animal, feeling the ridges of its back and the softer skin of its belly. He clung to the animal, his arms looped under its front legs, as it began to roll. He dug his knees into the animal’s sides, praying the beast would play out before he did. They broke the surface and Mathers released the gator, giving it a firm kick at the base of its neck as he swam away.

    Pulling himself onto the bank, he looked back in time to see the gator right itself, shake its dazed head and begin swimming towards him.

    1. Cceynowa

      Part 2: Mathers of the Swamp

      Unfamiliar fear coursed through Mathers’ mind. Never before had he seen an alligator like the one stalking him now. He had been hunting, catching, and studying gators for over fifty years. He could read most as easily as a teacher could read a lesson. The slightest twitch of an eye or jaw muscle was enough for him to predict the animal’s next move. This gator though, over ten feet in length and an unusually dark blue green color, had a calculating look in his eyes. Mathers knew in his gut that the beast was thinking about its next move. No instincts of the hunt. No fury or rage to fuel an attack. This animal was plotting.

      Not turning from the approaching gator, Mathers hurriedly scooted backwards, pushing away from the water’s edge despite the protest from his injured leg. He knew he needed to get at least twenty feet away in order to have a chance of outrunning the gator on land. But, before he could pull himself upright and make a run for it, the gator called to him from the water:

      “Mathers, you sorry old cuss, there is nowhere to run.”

      Shock stole Mathers’ plan of action. He sat in a disbelieving state, mouth hanging open, wondering if he was hallucinating.

      The alligator pulled itself up onto the bank and continued, “With that wound, you won’t get far anyway.”

      “Mon Dieu,” Mathers whispered, “I’ve done gone crazy.”

      The gator grinned at him, showing rows of yellow stained teeth. “Perhaps. It happens to all hunters after a time.”

      The bull gator made no further move to reach Mathers. He simply watched, with the unexplainable immobility that all reptiles possess, as Mathers, the Great Hunter of the Southern Delta, succumbed to dehydration and the festering infection in his leg.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’ve never heard of a patient alligator, wait! They’re all patient, watching and waiting to lunge. They are fascinating and your’s is the most interesting of all. Why struggle to eat when dinner is going to die anyway. One word for your story BRRRR!

      2. Observer Tim

        Very nice, CCey; I love the sense of immediacy and action in this. It really draws me in and makes me feel like I’m there. Unless there’s a pre-existing wound, that infection set in fast. I wonder what was in that water… 🙂

        1. Cceynowa

          So true… let us assume there was a deadly bacterium in the water that took immediate residence in poor Mathers’ leg. 🙂 I honestly had no idea where this prompt was going and wrote while hoping for the best. Thanks for reading and thanks for the feed back!

          1. Observer Tim

            Anything mildly hallucinogenic will do, even some species of mushrooms that the gator (nature’s garbage can) bit through before getting him. I’ve come close to losing limb or life to infections on three occasions now – they’re damned scary and this is close enough to the real-life experience to provide chills. 🙂

      3. ReathaThomasOakley

        Cc, I apologize for taking so long to come back and finish reading the stories, too much going. I was most impressed by this. Your description of the swamp is wonderful, an ecotour in a few sentences. I admired Mathers and the gator, each doing what they knew best. Very well done.

  11. dsjarvis

    She was Dallas’s lovely little alligator. Her candy bucket hung from her arm, awaiting the scrumptious treats of strangers. Her friends waited outside, eager to join the melee of children going door to door for the annual autumn tradition.

    “I miss mommy,” Hannah said, pouting.

    Dallas crouched to his daughter’s level, wiping the tears from her eyes.

    “You and me both, sweetheart,” he said. “Try to have fun tonight.”

    They shared a painstaking hug.

    “I saw her last night,” Hannah said.

    “Oh yeah?”

    “In my room.”

    Dallas kissed her on the forehead and marched her to her friends outside. They all cheered upon her arrival.

    Dallas smiled as he watched his little girl laugh, her worries fading into the twilight.

    * * *

    The beachfront family photo slithered into the depths of Dallas’s conflicted conscience. Hannah was an infant, the resolution to five years of marital difficulties.

    Olive’s body had been cold for only a month. The last time Dallas saw her, four bullet holes riddled her chest. She screamed as he fed her to Milo, the thirteen-foot albino gator with a reputation for devouring his trainers—all but Dallas. The insurance company withheld its payment until her body was found.

    A knock at the door startled him, removing his thoughts from the final remnant of his family’s happiness. A police officer and Hannah’s tearful chaperon awaited him.

    Fear overcame Dallas as the police officer said, “I’m sorry, sir, but your daughter was killed by a drunk driver.”

    * * *

    The alligators pillaged the fleshy corpses. Their teeth shredded the skin, muscle and tendons with a furious power that demanded veneration.

    Hannah visited his dreams. Those precious moments fueled his will to live. But rage accompanied his daughter’s visitations—an underlying anger that Dallas interpreted as guilt.

    Milo died merely six days after Hannah, leaving Dallas to believe he was cursed.

    He awoke one night to see Hannah, all bloody and scarred, standing by his bed, hand extended.

    “Come to Hell with me, daddy,” she said, but he reeled back instead.

    * * *

    The tourists’ demands had taken an extra toll on Dallas’s emotions. His bed awaited him.

    The house’s interior was darker than usual. Two dark figures greeted his entrance. One was short like a child, the other a bit taller.

    The figures stepped forward into the faint moonlight illuminating the floor. Dallas’s eyes widened with terror when he saw the pale ghosts of Hannah and Olive smiling back at him.

    Hannah extended her hand and said, “It’s time, daddy.”

    “Time for what?” he said.

    Behind him, something snapped. He turned and met the glowing red eyes of the albino monster of his nightmares.

    “Join us,” Hannah said.

    The gator’s mouth enveloped the air around Dallas, sucking him into a pit of fire, where his wife and daughter awaited his arrival.

      1. Penney

        This definitely jumped around and left a few questions for me. Why did he apparently kill his wife? Is he cursed with regret for killing her and so the daughter happens to die while he is mulling over the murder in his mind? How and why did the croc die? I get the possible haunting but why would an innocent child spend eternity in hell(that’s not fair)? This is a good basic story with lots of possibility and lots of gabs to fill. Go for it.

  12. Dan Byrd

    Warning: Strong language and graphic details. Enjoy!
    ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’ Harold thought as he hobbled as quickly as he could toward the Cold Turkey Convenience Store. He was tired, dehydrated, had a twisted ankle, and was hearing voices. To make it worse, it was night.
    “Crush!” One voice said.
    “Kill!” Another responded.
    “Meat!” Came yet another.
    Harold gritted his teeth and did his best to move faster. The voices were getting louder. They were getting closer. He was running out of time.
    Inside the Cold Turkey, Ralph was leaning on the wall next to the scratch-off tickets. His green vest was pristine, the store’s golden letters embroidered over his left breast. Below that was his nametag, covered in grease after months of him swearing he would clean it. His friend and trusty co-worker, Jay, was leaning against the front counter, arms folded next to the register.
    “Yeah, man,” Ralph said, staring contemplatively at the hotdogs turning on the warmer. “Darcy’s a bad-ass. I mean, who gets to be a total dick and still gets the girl at the end?”
    “Nah,” Jay said, shaking his head. “It’s more of a statement of Elizabeth’s character, if anything. She doesn’t even like the dude until she finds out he’s rich.”
    “Money talks,” Ralph smirked, scratching the back of his head. Jay snorted and shook his.
    The unlocked-side of the banged open and in walked a very scared, hurt and tired Harold. Both of the clerks jolted. Jay gave Harold a weary look and white knuckled the front counter, his thumb hovering over the silent alarm. Ralph casually leaned forward, hand resting on the butt of a baseball bat.
    Harold flipped the lock on the door and closed the blinds. He thought, ‘How the fuck did this go so wrong? Why would the gators wait so long? Why now?’ He stood at the door, breathing hard, body tense, staring at nothing.
    “Excuse me, sir!” Jay said. “We don’t close until 2 and it’s only 8. It’s even still too early for a robbery, if you ask me.” He smirked and looked at Ralph, who responded with a scolding look and a disappointed shake of his head.
    “Yeah,” Harold quickly contemplated and nodded. “This is a robbery!” He reached inside his vest and pulled out his buck-knife. Jay pushed the silent alarm.
    “The problem here, sir,” Ralph said, pulling out the bat, “is that celebrities like you already have a ton of money. I don’t think Harold ‘Wrangler’ Jacobs is having a hard time supplying for his family, or feeding some heavy drug-addiction. I don’t think this is really a robbery.”
    “Damn!” Jay exclaimed, making Ralph and Harold jump. “You’re the gator whisperer dude! From TV!”
    Harold licked his lips, panicking at being recognized. He lifted his knife, Ralph his bat. Sweat was streaming down Harold’s face, his eyes were wide with fear and adrenaline.
    “Listen to me,” Harold growled. “This is going to sound bat-shit. There was a gator rescue tonight. Three twelve-footers got into a retirement community’s pond. Happens all the time. Something happened and they- they’re coming for me!”
    “The gators?” Ralph asked, dropping his arms. He then jumped and screamed as there was a loud bang against the front door. There came a stronger bang that shook the blinds.
    Harold walked over to the door and peaked through the blinds. There, eye to eye with him, was an alligator’s face.
    “Meat!” It screamed in Harold’s head.
    Harold jumped back and opened the blinds just in time to see the alligator get on his hind legs and fall toward the door. Harold swore under his breath and moved out of the way as the gator came crashing down, breaking the glass. Both clerks screamed and jumped on the back counter, against the wall.
    The alligator thrashed, growling and snapping. Harold hit a piece of metal and the gator stopped moving for a moment.
    “Meat! Meat!” The gator screamed in Harold’s head. It flipped itself right-side up and seemed to hiss victorious.
    “Meat!” it exclaimed as it rushed Harold.
    Harold dove out of the way, down a small aisle, canned goods. The started turning, slowed by the lack of space. When its back was turned to him, Harold thought a prayer, took his buck knife in his teeth and leapt on its back. The gator thrashed hard, Harold barely managing to pin its jaws shut.
    “Meat!” It screamed at Harold, emitting loud growls.
    Harold started wrestling the gator, trying to get it on its belly. This is what he did. It was what made him famous. Of course he was known for saving gators. Not this one.
    “Thrash!” He suddenly heard another voice.
    “Destroy!” Came another.
    He finally pinned the meat-gator and, after a second’s hesitation, stuck his knife in its brain. A guttural cry rang out in his head and then came the actual sounds of two more gators growling.
    Ralph was shaking as two more gators came in through what was the front door. One seemed interested in him and Jay and the other prowled toward Harold.
    The one interested in the clerks stopped and opened its jaws wide, hissing menacingly, its tail thrashing. Ralph hugged his knees and kept his eyes on the gator. It leapt and bounced off the front counter, but still managed to to almost tip it over. Ralph looked away for a second to see the baseball lying on the floor. It was too far away.
    “Destroy!” the gator hissed in Harold’s mind.
    “Thrash!” Said the other. Harold was sure it was preoccupied with the clerks. He hoped he could get to that one in time.
    In killing the meat-gator, he had knocked over the canned goods shelves, leaving more space. Harold swallowed and ran. The destroy-gator took chase.
    Harold knocked over shelves and threw things at the gator. Part of him knew he was pissing the cold-blooded killing-machine off while actually succeeding at slowing it down. Then he tripped.
    Thrash-gator leapt at the counter again, snapping at the air. It was pushing the front counter closer to the two clerks, as well as over. All both clerks could think to do was stare. There was a loud crack as the twelve-foot long alligator leapt again and completely flattened the counter. Then came Harold’s scream.
    Destroy-gator had his lower left leg in its jaws. The pain was unbearable; Harold knew he was going to pass out. The gator thrashed and disconnected Harold’s knee. Harold yowled and passed out. The gator then tore his left leg off at the knee and started swallowing.
    Thrash-gator was getting ready to leap again. Then there came a high pitched whistle from the doorway. It worked, whoever it was, the gator looked at the doorway. The two clerks did too.
    Standing in the doorway was a police officer with a double-barreled shot-gun. “Come here, you son of a bitch,” she muttered and cocked her gun. There was a crack and the alligator attacking Harold fell over dead. The shot-gun officer’s partner shot from the police car, right through destroy-gator’s mouth.
    “Come on!” She then yelled. Thrash-gator hissed and charged. It opened its mouth as it got ready to attack her legs and she pulled the trigger against its head.
    It was over. Ralph threw up.
    The other officer ran in with a first-aid kit and started tending to Harold. He also called it in to the precinct. The shot-gun officer turned to check on the two clerks.
    “How’re you two doing?” She asked.
    “F-fine,” Ralph managed, then turned to throw up again. Jay nodded that he was fine too.
    The officer went and got the two clerks waters from the cooler, trying to not kill herself on the mess. Ralph looked worse for ware, pale and clammy.
    “I actually have a question,” Jay started when the officer returned. “What do you think of Darcy?”
    “Jane Austin’s Darcy?” The shot-gun officer asked rhetorically, with a small smile. “He’s a douche.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Pride and Prejudice and… alligators? That final line takes a truly dark and visceral horror tale into the realm of the strange. It’s an excellent break from the trope of the ignorant store clerks. All in all the combination works beautifully. 🙂

  13. Witt.Stanton

    The lake held me in it’s cool embrace, submerging me completely. I could feel the sun filtering through the waves, warming my back. I slowly drifted forwards, towards the sandy bank, and closed my eyes.

    From a distance away, I could just make out a deep growling. I felt the water shift as the man’s craft made it’s way closer. It stopped a few lengths away from me, and idled there as it always did.

    Then it was quiet. Birds quietly called, their tunes echoing down the river and intertwining as one. I dragged a heavy leg forward and pushed myself up from the shallow bottom. As I floated up to the surface, it became apparent that something was wrong.

    Loud, harsh shouts bounced off the surface of the water. I let my eyes rise above the murky water line, and I saw the craft, as it always was, but this time two men stood at it’s front.

    I have tried to understand this curious race, but to no avail. They take pleasure in the most destructive of things. And they have no sense of inner calm. I can’t help but feel superior to humans and their unrefined, impetuous nature.

    The shouting grew to cacophonous levels, and I half wished to be enlightened on their rude conversation simply to end the suspense. But then it ended.

    One of the men fell, or should I daresay was pushed, off the craft and into my river. He went down with a terrific splash, disturbing the water and filling it with cloudy bubbles.

    I surged forwards, my instincts taking over. At last, dinner.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow; this prompt is bringing out some of the best savage imagery. This is such a nicely done reverse take, I’m glad I twisted my gator-side take some more so I wouldn’t have to compete for attention with it. Fantastic, Witt! 🙂

      P.S. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to share this with a friend from work who is a great fan of all things gatorish.

        1. Penney

          I agree with the majority here a nice job and perspective. At the same time I enjoyed the approach you took, my critical eye bounced around a few things. The opening lines had me envisioning the water as a living thing holding down whatever was in it. It took until the boat arrived that I realized this was the gator. Somehow as the story progressed I couldnt tell how far above or below the water the gator was which seemed important to you to point out but the consistency seemed off; shallow water that legs could lift him out of, but eye under waterline etc I was stuttering through to see if I was reading it right. Check me if I’m wrong too but, when you use the word “forwards” in a few instances, is the s needed at the end? All in all, it was enjoyable and you did well to make note the way in which humans are impetuous and destructive.

  14. Observer Tim

    ALLIGATOR WHISPERS

    This one’s not really on prompt, and it is a tad dark. You have been warned.

    She’s called the Alligator Whisperer; well, that’s what I call her. She has eight books about alligators on the shelf over her desk; that’s more than anyplace else I’ve heard of. She knows everything there is to know about alligators, what we like to do all day, what part of the bed is the most comfortable, and even what settings on the washing machine will get the jam stains out of fur. She lies down beside me every night and whispers to me until I fall asleep, and in the morning we dance.

    She calls me Emerald, and whispers to me about how alligators will attack anything that comes near them. She tells me she’s glad I’m not hungry. I just smile and enjoy her presence, how the meaty smell of her fills my gator nose when she hasn’t had her bath.

    She whispers to me about how lonely she’s been since her Daddy got taken away by the angels and how her Mommy makes her eat evil monsters called broccolis. She tried to give me one once, but I couldn’t eat it.

    Things have changed, though. It has to do with the new Daddy. It’s not that he’s mean to her and doesn’t like her: it’s worse. She whispers to me about how he scares her, how he hurts her, how he touches her. She whispers to me about how her Mommy doesn’t believe her when she tries to talk about it, and how grown-ups never listen when it’s important. She wishes I were a real alligator so I could eat her new Daddy. I’d do it too, but felt teeth won’t chew through skin.

    She’s come to me tonight in her best blue nightgown. I like it because it’s like water and I can hide among the folds. She whispers to me that she loves me and she holds me tight and cries into my tummy. Tear stains come out in a light rinse with no detergent.

    There’s a flash of silver in the moonlight and then I taste the salt and iron. It’s blood; I remember the bloody nose that took forever to stop when she was nine. There’s more this time, and the blood is coming from her arms. She holds me close until it soaks me through, and still there’s more.

    The last thing she whispers is “I’m sorry.” Then she teaches me how to lie very very still.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is such a tragic tale and yet the relaqtionship between the girl and her stuffed alligator makes it didfferent. It’s very intense, especially at the end and the last sentence is the perfect ending. Think happy next week, my nerves can not stand two of these in a row.

    1. Beebles

      Heartbreaking OT. What got me was the innocence of the alligator reflecting the child’s innocence. It is odd how the most mundane lines seem to say the most: Tear stains come out in a light rinse with no detergent. Doing spreadsheets through blurred vision now.

  15. seliz

    Dirt caked his calloused hands. He wore a faded green jumpsuit that was soiled with mud and stains. Several buttons were undone, revealing darkened, weathered skin.

    “You know they call you the alligator whisperer?” the boy squeaked.

    Bubba shifted his dark eyes from the water to the boy. He was a thin thing; pale, sickly looking. He wore a checkered button down shirt and khaki pants. His sandy blonde hair was matted with sweat, as much from the heat as from nervousness. He clutched a notebook in his bony hands.

    Bubba snorted at the sight of him. For all his boyish features, Eric was a man grown.

    Eric cleared his throat.

    “Have you heard that? That the scientific community has hailed you as the alligator whisperer?”

    Bubba took a slow drag off his cigarette before answering.

    “I heard, boy. That shits all fluff that don’t mean nothing. Out here, all that matters is my boat and them ‘gators.”

    Eric scribbled furiously in his notebook. Bubba eyed him critically.

    “You don’t get out much, do ya, boy?”

    “Eric,” he corrected, still writing furiously. “And I-I do…uh…get out.”

    Bubba smirked and tossed his cigarette into the river.

    “Is that right? How’d you like to swim with the ‘gators? Maybe wrestle one?”

    Eric squeaked and clutched his notebook tighter.

    “There’s one now,” Bubba said pointing over the side of the boat. “We could see how you do against a 500lb ‘gator.”

    Bubba laughed at the thought of the pale boy flopping around in the murky water.

    “There’s another one over there,” Eric said, pointing. “And there! They’re circling us!”

    “What in seven hells?” Bubba muttered. He stood up abruptly, the boat rocking wildly. “Hand me my gun!”

    “Your g-gun? Uh—sir? I thought you captured the alligators unharmed and delivered them to the research facility,” Eric said. He pointed to something in his notebook. “See, here it says that you never harm any of your ‘gators. I mean, alligators.”

    “This is different. These boys are after my blood.”

    “Y-your blood?”

    “You just gonna echo me or you gonna grab my gun? Now!”

    Eric reached for the gun with trembling hands and moved to Bubba’s side. The boat rocked when he stood and for one long moment, it felt like the entire boat would flip. Eric reached for the side of the boat to steady himself…and dropped the gun into the water with a splash.

    Silence followed at Bubba watched his gun sink to the murky water below. He turned to glare at the quaking boy.

    “You better get.”

    “What?”

    “Get out of my sight before I kill you, boy.”

    “But—but we’re on the water!”

    “Swim fast, because I swear to God,” Bubba started, his face turning red, and then purple in his anger. He grabbed the boy by the shoulders and pushed him towards the edge of the boat.

    “No!” Eric screeched, flailing his arms wildly.

    One of his hands struck Bubba in the face with a crack. Bubba winced and moved his hand to his face.

    Free of Bubba’s grasp, Eric wretched himself away from the edge and fell backwards into the boat. The boat rocked wildly at the sudden movement, and Bubba lurched headfirst over the side of the boat with a giant splash.

    Eric sat huddled on the floor of the boat for a long time; afraid to look over; afraid to move. When he finally got the courage to creep to the side of the boat, the water was quiet. Bubba was gone.

    Back at the office, Eric’s editor stopped him.

    “Have you heard anything from the alligator whisperer? I thought you were supposed to meet him for an interview?”

    Eric shrugged.

    “I don’t know. He never showed up.”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hey seliz, that was one magnificant twist. And so goodby to Bubba. It’s amazing the kid wasn’t killed also. I guess the gators had their fill of gristle and grim and weren’t interested anymore. The banter between the two was extremely realistic, and also grim.
          Great writing as usual.

    1. Observer Tim

      Eric will go far in the documentary business. Or the murder business, one or the other. This is something that I’m surprised doesn’t happen more often (probably why people don’t usually go out gator hunting in ones and twos). Alas, poor Bubba. I think because of the personality you painted I ended up having very little sympathy for him, even though his death was the result of Eric’s ineptitude in the swamp. Great little story of murder, Seliz. 🙂

  16. ShamelessHack

    — I have been called into action again.

    “Here’s the world-famous Alligator Whisperer getting ready to leave base camp and go into the swamp to hunt alligators.”

    — I must don my specialized gear.

    “Here’s the world-famous Alligator Whisperer putting on his leather helmet and goggles and his wide belt with his Bowie hunting knife.”

    — There, now I’m armed. Before I go, I need to make sure I have my special water container so I have fresh water for my ordeal. There! Now I’m ready.

    “Here’s the world-famous Alligator Whisperer in his leather helmet and Bowie knife heading out into the swamp. On his head he has affixed his—. What? What’s the matter, Charlie Brown?”
    “Alligator Whisperer, Linus?”
    “Yes. He’s right over there near his doghouse.”
    “Is that his water dish on his head?”
    “Yes. He’s heading out into the swamp and needs to be well equipped.”

    — It’s hot and steamy in the swamp. Suddenly I spot a fierce female alligator. I begin to stalk her in the mangroves.

    “Is that your dog over there in the bushes, Charlie Brown?”
    “He’s an Alligator Whisperer, Lucy. He stalking.”
    “Good grief.”

    — I sneak up slowly, silently. The large female reptile is too preoccupied with another gator to notice me.

    “Why is your stupid dog slinking up behind me?”
    “He’s whispering, Lucy.”

    — I see my chance. Just a few more feet and I’ll be on her. Now I pull out my Bowie knife and…and…

    “Don’t even think about it dog!”

    — Hmm. This cranky female gator seems larger and more aggressive than most. I’d better retreat. Besides, it’s almost dinner time.

    “Here’s the world famous Alligator Whisperer returning to base camp. Today he returns empty handed. But there is always tomorrow, and… and…what’s the matter, Charlie Brown?”
    “Why can’t I just have a normal dog?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Holy Moly, that was fun Larry. I could picture the story as if I were there. I think it might be a lot safer if Snoopy stuck with a bi-plane and stalked the elusive Red Barron with his tri-wing. Being shot down by the Barron is a lot nices then been eaten by an alligator.

    2. Observer Tim

      So what happens when the alligator teams up with the Red Baron? I will always remember fondly the adventures of Snoopy in his mind, and while Schulz never did this one, he may very well have. Have you been channelling dead cartoonists, Hack? 🙂

  17. NOPE

    “Mr. Peacock, sir, that alligator by that rock over there seems to be eyeballing us with malicious intent.”
    “Nonsense, Fillmore,” I scoff without opening my eyes. “He’s just curious. I mean, who could blame him? He’s in the presence of greatness!”
    “Of course, Sir, my apologies.”
    I feel myself become irritated by my assistant’s lack of faith in my abilities. He’s watched from a distance countless times as I have made alligators far larger than the one by the rock nibble dog treats from the palms of my hands.
    When it comes to the large reptiles, I am considered something of an expert. ‘I have a very special set of skills’, if you know what I mean. Still, curiosity abounds and I find myself forced to demonstrate my abilities time and time again.
    “Sir, now there are three of them.”
    “Damn you, Fillmore, what do you have to fear from a few measly alligators? You’re with the master!”
    “Well, Sir, death of course. Also dismemberment…drowning…I’ve also head that alligators have exceptionally bad breath.”
    “Oh pish-posh, Fillmore. Paddle us closer then.”
    “But Sir-
    “Fillmore, who pays your salary?”
    “You Sir,” Fillmore murmurs weakly. I feel the boat change direction and a smirk crosses my face.
    As we approach the alligators, lording over their rock like kings, I open my eyes and sit up straighter. One of the gators looks to be a large male, maybe twelve feet long. He had perched himself atop the rock and does indeed appear to be eyeballing me. Deciding that he is the one I need to work my magic on, I invoke a staring contest and maintain eye contact to establish my dominance. I am, after all, the greatest alligator hunter in the country and Big-Scaly is merely a pair of boots- a purse, perhaps.
    Big-Scaly rises on to his stubby legs, his feral yellow eyes glinting in the sunlight, he takes a couple of calculated steps and enters the water.
    “Watch carefully now, Fillmore. This is how the master does it.”
    My assistant doesn’t respond, and I assume that he has become speechless with awe or possibly anticipation. They all do when the gator is on the move.
    “Get the gun ready. Make sure you can get a clear shot.”
    “Yes Sir.”
    Big-Scaly and I are nearly eye-to-eye now as he raises his head out of the water and I crouch so that I may speak to him in soothing tones. I am looking down his nose.
    “Now, Fillmore!”
    I brace for the shot, expecting the noise to ring loudly across the silent swamp.
    Instead there is a sudden blow to my shoulder. As I topple forward into the murky brown waters, Big-Scaly rises to meet me, his A-shaped jaws open wide in a reptilian grin.

    1. NOPE

      Sorry about the format. My computer and this website don’t get along. It froze 6 times just trying to scroll through the comments…twice more attempting to put spaces between paragraphs.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Poor Fillmore is long gone, don’t you see. The pair of boots and a purse or two is about to have a tasty meal of brain dead upper class intelligence from being bred too tightly. There is a moral here, but it beats the hell out me, what it is. Let’s just say it’s a great story of morality in breeding and let it go at that.

    2. Observer Tim

      Ah breeding does tell in this story; it’s just sometimes we don’t want to hear the tale. You did a great job of capturing Peacock’s arrogance and Fillmore’s long-suffering competence. I hope one of the two gets out of this mess, though he will have to find a new upper-class twit to be manservant to… 🙂

  18. JosephFazzone

    Alligators came out of the trees screaming in their guttural language!

    What’s Get a roll?

    It’s like a croak. Like a frog, but deeper. Croak! Croak!

    CROAK! CROAK! CROAK!

    So the alligator’s come in and attack us with their big teeth.

    Do they bite hard?

    Really hard.

    Like a hundred times hard?

    I guess that’s a relative measure, so yeah, sure, let’s say a hundred times hard.

    What about a gazillion times hard?

    You don’t think a hundred times hard is hard enough?

    No, a kajillion times hard.

    Okay a kajillion times…

    And then a hundred tsunami’s came.

    Man eating alligator cyborgs weren’t enough?

    What’s a cyborg?

    It’s a robot.

    Why not say a robot?

    Okay, man eating alligator robots.

    With lava.

    With lava.

    And then a hundred tsunami’s came.

    A hundred tsunami’s crashed into the shore. The villagers were strewn about like your green army men when you forget to clean up. We had to run as fast as we can to get away from them.

    And the lava will get you wherever you go. It’s so hot.

    It’s very hot. So we have to run and find a way to survive.

    Dada, I have to go to the bathroom.

    Okay, hurry back.

    Can I have the crayons so we can draw the alligators?

    Sure. We can draw the pictures under our story. What happens to us? Do we get away.

    I’m going to draw a picture of the tsunami’s and the lava. They fight each other.

    But what about the alligators? Aren’t we running from them?

    Dada, alligators can only bite through tsunami’s a little bit. And the lava will burn them.

    But they are robots who shoot the lava, right? And we need to run away from them.

    Emmy broke the green crayon. I can’t draw the alligator now. That’s not nice.

    No, it’s not nice. We have more of that color green you know.

    I want this one.

    Okay, we can fix it after we finish the story, then we can come back and draw.

    Oh, I know what can beat a shark.

    Alligator.

    Alligator.

    What?

    A shark. There’s a hundred kabillion thousand sharks in the tsunamis.

    Great, so is this like a shark in a tsunami? I don’t think the franchise thought of that, sharknami, and we could have them fight the robot alligators with lava that bite a kajillion times hard.

    Sharks could bite underwater.

    I think alligators can too.

    So who could win?

    I think given the advantage, the shark.

    Why?

    Well, isn’t he backed by a hundred tsunamis? I think that would be more than enough to render our alligators useless or miles away at the very least. Plus as you said, there are a hundred kabillion thousand sharks in the tsunamis.

    So we would win?

    Well if we could survive the reinforcements, we would be safe for the moment.

    The sharks aren’t bad guys. They are the good guys.

    So we would win, yes.

    So can we draw the pictures now? Find me a green crayon, Dada.

    You can use half of it. It will still work, let me just peel the paper. Wait, is the story done?

    Yeah, Dada. The sharks won. The alligators have to get fixed at the hose table.

    Hospital.

    And then they can fight some more.

    Sounds epic.

    What’s epic?

    My life with you. I love you, son.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m falling in line also.This ia heartwarmer. Since I had only daughters to read to, the story lines were a lot nicer except Snow White. It terrizod me as a kid.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow. I can remember making up stories like this as a kid during the times when there were others to bounce superlatives off. The voice and the style and everything come together in an epic story with just a hint of hidden sadness (“the hose table”). Great one, Joey! 🙂

  19. Amaria

    Well, I did mention alligator in this one. 🙂

    Alligator Whisperer
    Ginger – Part 5

    Linda didn’t look up at Dr. Leveque as she spoke. “I’ve been having dreams about alligators. I’m walking through swamp when I suddenly feel something watching me. I turn and see this huge alligator just staring at me with its mouth wide open. So I start running through the swamp and I can hear the alligator chasing me through the water. I fall down and before I can get up the alligator bites my leg and…”

    “Mom what does this have to do with what we are talking?” Ginger interrupted.

    Linda looked over at Ginger. “You had your time to talk and now it is mine.”

    “But you’re talking about a dream about an alligator. What does that have to do with dad?”

    Linda rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why I agreed to come here.”

    “We came here to talk about things we don’t talk about at home.”

    “What are you talking about? We talk about a lot of things.”

    “No we don’t. We never talk about dad. You’re always talking around him, just like you are now. You’re talking about alligators instead of your feelings about dad’s death.”

    Dr. Leveque decided to step in. “Ginger and Linda, may I intervene?” The two patients turned towards Dr. Leveque, who had been watching the entire exchange without saying a word. “Perhaps these dreams you are having Linda is a key to the larger issue. You said that these dreams started a two months ago when Ginger started asking you questions about her father and his untimely death. Perhaps these dreams are related to unexpressed feelings about the ordeal.”

    “I don’t know why Ginger keeps asking me about the past. The past is the past.”

    Dr. Leveque replied, “The past can have a great effect on us, especially if there are things we don’t acknowledge. Your husband died and left you a widow with two children. I’m sure you went through a sea of emotions during that time.”

    “I did. But I got through it and I wish Ginger would just leave it alone.”

    Dr. Leveque responded, “Ginger was young when your husband died and has limited memories of him. It’s quite natural for her to be curious.”

    Linda sighed. “He was a good man and father, but he had his flaws.”

    Dr. Leveque smiled. “No one is perfect.”

    Ginger interrupted, “What kind of flaws did he have?”

    Linda looked at Ginger and said, “I’m not sure it would be appropriate for me to say in front of you.”

    Ginger huffed. “Mom, I’m an adult. I’m sure I have heard it before”

    “Your father had a kind heart, which others preyed upon for their own advantage.”

    “Like who? His students?” Ginger asked.

    Linda looked at Ginger curiously. “Is there something you know that you’re not saying?”

    Ginger glanced at Dr. Leveque, who had a blank expression on her face. She then whispered, “No, not really.”

    “Are you lying?” Linda asked.

    Ginger responded, “Maybe, like you have all these years. Perhaps that’s why the alligator been hunting you.”

    1. JosephFazzone

      I appreciate the tie in to the prompt. Clever! Great metaphor for Linda’s issues. These characters are just becoming more and more real. It’s fantastic! And I love the name Leveque. Great choice, it just jumps off the page every time I see the name.

    2. Observer Tim

      Ooh, nice stretch of the metaphor, Amaria. It’s good to see Dr. Leveque doing her job, and you created a lovely continuation of the story through dialogue. Really, really good one! 🙂

      Wait, what, two children!? I’m going to have to go back and check to see if this is a new development.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this part immemsely Amaria. I’m sorry I missed the others. I’m going back to read and catch up with the restr. Dialogue between mother and daughter was excellent. Not a whole lot revaeled, but on to the next chapter.

  20. Beebles

    Right, so usual apologies: length etc. Then you can let me know just how many film plots I’ve ripped off.
    ——————

    ‘Just how many limbs can one person have? That’s a godzilla nest.’

    Part of me hoped the Deputy was joking. If he wasn’t, he still had much to learn about basic human anatomy. If he was, it was sick and I was in no mood to appreciate it. I should be enjoying my Sunday, barbecuing in the shade of the trees at the bottom of our garden overlooking Keystone Lake, not dealing with another suspected gator attack. Jo and the grand kids would just have to start without me. Again.

    I should never have said ‘yes’ the first time. Jo, my kids, their kids; I owed them a little time. Pay back for deserting them my whole life to go chasing el garto and her family across the world. I should have retired to Alaska where the bastards wouldn’t even be able to move. Once Sheriff Knowles realised he had a retired gator specialist in his county I got a phone call every time a bit of body was found or someone went missing. Most weren’t even down to gators, just plain old homicide.

    I removed my hat to scrape some of the sweat and irritation from my pate, wrinkled and dotted with liver spots last time I checked for melanoma. ‘It’s not a nest,’ I said patiently, ‘it’s a kill site. It’s bringing its prey here to rot and then consume it.’

    ‘Why doesn’t it just death roll ‘em? Like in the movies.’

    I had been contemplating this. ‘Probably because it can’t. Might be something wrong with its tail.’
    ‘So, err, Can I cross any of these names off this here missing persons list?’ The Sheriff was standing at the top of the bank, looking dispassionately down at the collection of human carcass parts splayed across the silt and shingle at my feet. The Deputy crouched on his haunches, drinking in the horror.

    ‘That’s up to your guys to figure out,’ I said, ‘but it’s a gator alright. A big male. I’d say 11, maybe 12 feet. I recon’ you’ve got two, perhaps three bodies represented here.’

    The Deputy’s whistle was long and expressive. ‘That the biggest you ever come across, Fenton?’

    ‘Pretty much. I did have a tussle with one approaching that size a few years back. Really rare leucistic. Only managed to take a big chunk out of his back end ….’ Why did that sound familiar?

    The Sheriff was still looking at his notebook. ‘Well, it would be a might handy if I could match some of these up. We’ve had quite a flurry of MPs lately: Yovy Jiminez, Judy Cooper, Anne Marie Campbell…’

    I had been staring at one of the disarticulated limbs, little more than a tube of flesh held together by a ladies stocking, the grisly ensemble finished by a very sensible wooden heeled shoe. I looked up.

    ‘Did you say Judy Cooper?’

    ‘Uh huh, Judy W. Cooper. Local woman, lives in Oldsmar.’

    ‘Judy Cooper? But that’s our housekeeper. She’s not missing. She’s just gone on holiday.’

    The Sheriff shook his head. ‘Reported missing two days ago. I been meaning to come round and have a word ‘bout that.’

    I thought something about that gruesome debris had looked familiar. I looked back at the shoe. Judy’s shoe. Sweet Jesus.

    ‘Musta dragged her off the road on her way home from yours.’ The Deputy was rocking on his heels. I was ready to hit him. ‘Hell, there’s so much water between here and Keystone he could have swum near all the way. Then just scoot between the lakes.’ He wiggled his hand like a fish.

    ‘Sprawl,’ I muttered. ‘They sprawl or high walk.’ I was tracing the route in my mind now. Dear God, it wouldn’t be hard. Up the canal. Into Hiawatha … The odd feeling returned. Insane but irresistible.

    ‘Where’s my phone?’ I heaved my comfortable old belly up the bank. I pushed past the open mouthed Sheriff and made for the jeep. It couldn’t be. They don’t have brains big enough to … let alone … My thoughts were interrupted by Jo’s voice at the other end of the connection.

    ‘Jo? Jo it’s me. Where are you?’

    ‘I’m in the kitchen, dear. I’m just taking some lemonade down to Alice and Brad. What on earth is the matter?’

    ‘Are the kids alright? Where are they?’

    ‘Slow down Flash Fenton. Remember Doctor Bishop. I can see the kids just getting into in the water. You know I would never take my eyes off them. Besides they are both excellent swimmers. We can’t molly coddle them all the time. It’s what grandparents are for. Let them spread their wings. They’re not toddlers anymore, Fenton. Alice is almost twelve. You know, if you stayed around a bit more you might notice. You’re supposed to be retired. Remember? That Sheriff takes advantage of you.’

    ‘Listen Jo, just get them out of the water. Now. I’m coming home.’

    ‘Whatever is the matter? Oh, you can tell me when you get here. Don’t worry, party pooper. They were coming out for the lemonade anyhow, soon as they were done racing to that old silver birch that’s been floating in all morning. I really should have a word with the Owners Association about people letting their trees fall into the lake …’

    I could hear her voice by my ear, but all I could see was the Sheriff’s face looking down at me. He was fumbling at my shirt.

    ‘Dang it, George. Get on the radio and call for an ambulance. I think he’s gone had a heart attack.’

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Well, I’ve clicked your name and saw where you live, so when I read Oldsmar, thought you might have visited. You mention Lake Hiawatha, which actually connects, through other lakes, to the river behind our place. Small world. Also, I neglected before to say how great your writing is. So, your writing is great!

    1. JosephFazzone

      Oh so intense! I want to know what happens next. You really amped up the action, as you cleverly sewn in the details. I really like your MC as well, a reluctant hero. I’d really like to see how this all plays out! Amazing job!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A grisey tale but from the alligator’s view, it’s breakfast. The hook was marvelous, no one coukd read that sentence snd stop there, least of all, myself. Thed tension peaked at the end and left us there. Will you continue?

    2. Observer Tim

      I can see the remains of Jaws, Lake Placid and Steelhead Terror to begin with. You caught the rural monster horror movie genre in your jaws and gave it a death roll, Beebles. As you rolled things out I could see the lakeside community that will realize a bit too late what kind of trouble they’re in. I especially love the subtle way you put the kids into peril. 🙂

  21. Bushkill

    Alligator Whisperer

    I am good. And I’m not talking about the casual suave that most guys have when they go wrangling. I can spot ‘em and rope ‘em with an ease that defies common logic.

    I got skills.

    Florida heat and intermittent weather are nothing to me. Though the mosquitos do cause me some angst, they don’t bother my prey at all. Nothing like coming out in the morning to see them all lined up in the sun, mouths open, birds dancing all around, leathery skin just sucking up the vitamin D like it was out of stock.

    I really love my job. I can’t begin to describe the sheer joy I have at baggin’ one of these beauties. Sometimes I have enough time to come back for a second one of ‘em if the pesky tourists haven’t spooked them out of their environment.

    Most people wouldn’t think a fellow lookin’ at 70 in the rearview would be able to manage the wrangle with such skill. Such flair. Such panache.

    Today started just like any other. Cracked, sun-baked skin crying out for moisturizer sang to me and I walked by the cabana with a nod to the boy running the bar. He shook his head at me, like I was out of line, and then grabbed his notebook to jot a few things down. He always did that, too, like he was surprised to see a master at work. He even called me the Alligator Whisperer.

    Silly boy.

    I spied my prize for the day as she lay awash at the water’s edge. Water beaded off of her over-warmed hide with rivulets running over the leathery rings around her middle.
    I steeled myself for the encounter. Sometimes they weren’t all that interested in being moved from the sun and the waves.

    I spoke softly to her from a distance and she just settled her head back on the ground and looked up at me.

    What a gorgeous creature, I thought.

    In just a few minutes I had her roped in. I leaned close, daring and testing my luck, and whispered in her ear.

    Her eyes sparkled and her fuchsia painted lips parted in a wide smile, “I’d love to. Let’s go now.” There was a hint of desire in her husky voice and the smell of her Coppertone was almost as intoxicating as the rest of her over-tanned anatomy.

    As we left the beach and headed to my bungalow, a tour bus pulled up. A crowd of over protected and garishly clad people from Lady Bella’s Home for the Aged poured forth like an unchecked surf.

    In an instant I was awash in a kaleidoscope of color that made my senses real. My beach beauty was knocked away from me in the press of untanned, unfit, clammy human flesh. They were jabbering at me and I was backed awkwardly toward the cabana.

    They just kept coming. My beauty bounded away like a Serengeti gazelle. I remember clearly the cabana boy’s wry grin.

    1. JosephFazzone

      Man the flow of this is too good. It’s just so much fun to read this out loud, and feel the music in the cadence! ‘leathery skin just sucking up the vitamin D like it was out of stock.’ Awesome line! So many great moments in here, Bushkill. Fantastic read!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There were so many great lines here that made me smile. I think my favorite was, ‘there was a hint of desire in her husky voice and the smell of her Coppertone was almost as intoxicating as the rest of her over-tanned anatomy’. The setting of this story should be set in South Beach on the southern part of Miami Beack. Your descriptions were dead on. Marvelous.

      2. Bushkill

        I had to keep the bait and switch going long enough for the reveal to dazzle at the end. I, too, liked the line you reference, it played very well with the rest of the theme.

    2. Observer Tim

      I love this sort of story, where you start out reading one thing and realize near the end that you’re actually reading another. You pulled off the slow reveal beautifully, Bushkill. I’m guessing your MC is not only an alligator whisperer but an alligator wrestler too, as need be. 🙂

  22. Kerry Charlton

    ALLIGATOR BOY

    THE LRGEND OF CHIEF BILLY THUNDERCLOUD

    At the end of the second Seminole war of 1842, no peace treaty was signed. The Seminole Indians existed for a hundred years, hidden in the everglades. By the 1950’s some migrated to dryer lands in South Florida. Stories of Billy Thundercloud spread through Florida. The Seminoles called him, ‘Ma-omof Fusua’ or Alligator Boy.

    His family lived in the swamps when he was born. He went missing one day and his mother panicked and ran to a deep water area in the Everglades. She found her son sitting with three massive alligators, whispering to them. He was four at the time. His legend grew as he got older and would gather his afternoon audience beside the deep area.

    Other Seminoles hesitated to join him when as many as a dozen alligators would surround him in rapt interest, never touching him unless he said ‘Mofaus Kei’ which means playtime. They would wrestle with him, their jaws closing in thunderous claps, always missing him an inch or two. The tribe anointed him as Chief Billy Thundercloud.

    As he grew in stature he never forget his fierce playmates and yearned for their company. On weekends he would join them and once, he invited his natural history professor from the University Of Miami, along for company.

    She was half Seminole with half Irish thrown in, a beauty for the ages. Wearing a sheer blouse, top buttons loose with a little jiggle as she walked, she oozed innocently. Tight blue jeans walked down a tight derriere , they seemed to be spray painted on. When they sat by the bank, Billy was so proud of her

    She expressed little fear as she sat with him surrounded by massive jaws and eyes that spoke evil. But she knew as long as Billy was with her, she was safe. She leaned over to him,

    “How about an A for this assignment. Are you old enough for me to kiss you?“

    “If you won’t tell, my lips are sealed.” They shared a gentle kiss and held hands within the circle of predators. Denise took many photos that day and showed then in her lecture room. Somehow, several snap shots ended up at the Miami Herald.

    A media frenzy started to build with Denise Ocala in the forefront. She asked Billy for a favor,

    “Anything you want,” he replied.

    “Can we take the press so they can witness why they call you Ma-omof Fusua?

    The publicity will fund the university’s research department on the danger of development threatening the Everglades.”

    “It may upset them to see so many. Will the reporters keep their distance?”

    “Of course, I will be sure they follow your wishes.”

    Billy sensed a feeling of foreboding the next Saturday when six reporters followed
    Denise and Billy far into the glades to the deep part. As agreed, the reporters stayed back fifty yards as the gators started their ritual with the whisperer. One of the reporters broke ranks and crept forward for a better photo. An alligator noticed and edged toward him.

    The reporter panicked, drew a pistol and shot at the gator. All hell broke, a large alligator clamped down on Denise’s leg and dragged her toward the water. Billy jumped on his back, drew his knife and started to stab the gator but was violently thrown off. As he rose to his feet, the alligator submerged into the depths with Denise still struggling and then all was still. The other beasts slid into the water, circled as if waiting for something.

    Billy walked up to the reporter who had fired the pistol, knocked him unconscious, lifted him above his head and walked to the deep place. With a great heave the reporter hit the water amidst the circling gators. Thrashing sounds drowned his screams as the gators consumed him.

    Billy, his head hung low in grief, walked slowly toward the deep and waded in the murky, blood stained swamp water. In his native language, he began to chant ,

    “Aweka nomateg wabte, aweka nomateg wabte.”

    His like long friends consumed his body as commanded.

    So a legend built around the alligator boy. When a half moon lights the glades, some say he can be seen by the deep place encircled by his aquatic friends. Who knows the mysteries of the glades? No one

    Long may ‘Ma-omuf Fusua’ tarry. .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you John, I got inspired by this prompt. In the 50’s I used to hunt rattlesnakes with my trusty 22 and some of my friends. It is a fascinating wonder to walk through. [Especially if you don’t get snake bite. Yo!

    1. cosivantutte

      Hi, Kerry!

      I just knew something bad was going to happen as soon as the media got involved. 🙁

      Just so you know, I love the mental image this line creates: “When a half moon lights the glades, some say he can be seen by the deep place encircled by his aquatic friends.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Bushkill for reading. Don’t get me started on the media , especially Fox News. I’m about to
        email Bill O’Reilly and give him some of my thoughts to ponder.

    2. Beebles

      Kerry, the way you write weaves your stories into reality and leaves me thinking that it must be true. I would truly expect to find a wiki page on Billy Thundercloud had appeared out of the blue.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Beebles for your wonderful thoughts. There really is a Chief Billy Thundercloud. He’s no more a Seminole than I am. I met him in the late 70’s when we were a distributor for PLAYBOY Records. They had started a country label. He was a country singer at the time and came in our office stripped to the waist with war paint on. The girls in our office loved it. That is, until he started kissing all of them Indian style.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Joseph, what a marvelous compliment. I will tell you when I wrote the ending, I also got goosebumps for sometimes I have no idea where I’m headed until I see the words typed. A screwed up mind I guess or geezer creeping. Probably geezer.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful bit of Americana fable, Kerry. It’s got everything – triumph, tragedy, love, lose, and a heaping helping of down-home country bulls**t. This is another one for your ‘keeper’ file. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique for your critique. A crtique from Critique is really a treat! I call this a sweet and sour story. At first I feel forelorn for killing my characters but then happy when I find so many people who liked it. I figure I can’t save them all from my written word else all of you would hit a big yawn when my name showed up.

  23. Pete

    “Cancelled? How?” Andy asked through a mouthful of donut dust.

    Lana, his producer, swatted at a mosquito. “Andy. I don’t make these decisions. But the ratings were dismal.” She took a step back. “And what are you doing? We’re in the Everglades.”

    Alligator Andy took a look around. At his crew rolling up cords, packing up the van with that same low energy gusto that had been their trademark for the past five years. Of course he knew it was the Everglades. So where was his air-conditioned tent?

    “So that’s it? We’re just….done?”

    “Sorry Andy. It’s been fun. Look, I was hoping you could hitch a ride with the crew. I gotta go see about the bubble gum girl.”

    “Hitch a ride? Wait, the what?”

    She was talking over her shoulder now, as good as through with him. “You know, on youtube, the girl who makes music with her bubble gum, we’re giving her a show.”

    “You’re kidding me?”

    “Gotta stay fresh, Andy. Look, good luck dear.”

    With his producer gone and the crew at the vans, Andy nearly had a moment of clarity. The one time Flash Magazine “People to Watch” hunk took a seat on a stump, without noticing the missing button from his chamois shirt. The late morning sun blasted through the cover of trees. He wouldn’t miss the heat. But still, replaced by the bubble gum girl?

    Just as well, he supposed, taking inventory of his pudge. Sure, he’d annexed a new hole in his belt, but he still had the chops, that million dollar smile that shined a hole through those glossies. On his phone, he scrolled down to Chet, his agent. At least now he could lose the ridiculous accent, the one that was one part Irish and one part Dudley Moore.

    Donut crumbs fell to his boot. Andy chucked his empty soda bottle at the blue heron gazing over the water. The bird took flight with a majestic grace that went unnoticed by the sulking star.

    He noticed the six foot reptile watching him from no less than twenty feet away.

    “What do you want?”

    The alligator yawned, revealing empty gums. Her teeth had been extracted for filming, although the suckers kept growing back.
    “We’re done, Sal,” he said, standing up. He shuffled over to the edge of the swamp. “Maybe now you’ll have to earn a living.” He put a boot on the gator’s nose. Sal’s tail flapped in the water.

    “Save it for the cameras, show off.”

    The alligator spun over, revealing its white belly, then back to her feet.

    “Look, you’re not still sore about that wrestling scene, are you? Man, we had some great times, huh?”

    Andy heard the vans rumbling up the road, and it was then he realized that both of his rides were gone. Amazing, he chuckled, how quickly he turned into an afterthought. It was also around the time that he noticed another set of eyes on him.

    “Easy there,” said the man known as Alligator Andy. The truth being that Sal was a thirty-five-year-old teddy bear the producers had found in a zoo off of I95, caged off in this small part of the Everglades. But there were no other gators in the cage. That is, if there still was a cage.

    Andy’s heart woke up. The soda bottle bobbed in the water with the eyeballs. Two sets now, he saw clear as day. The sun, a ball of fire overhead, pressed down on Andy’s bald spot. He jumped as Sal’s tail swished again, with a strength he hadn’t witness in any of the four seasons of manufactured wilderness.

    He backed away slowly, as the prehistoric hides emerged, gently as though part of the swamp. Two, then three, five or six humps in the murk. He turned to find two more blocking his way. Wiping the donut filling his phone buzzed at his hip. Andy took his phone. With a wobbly hand he put it to his ear.

    “Andy, Chet here. Good news. I got you that part for MicroDX, that erectile…”

    The phone fell to the marsh. Eight alligators, glistening and hungry–seven with a full set of teeth, were his live studio audience.

    Andy’s last thought, besides how his urine actually felt cool on his thigh in comparison to the Florida heat, was how well this scene would have played out on the season finale of Alligator Andy.

    1. seliz

      I loved this. I actually found myself rooting for Andy, because it seemed like he had potential to be a better person since he lost his show. But the descriptions were great and the storyline flowed well. Great job!

    2. Observer Tim

      This would have made an excellent finale to the series or even for the commercial (I can see the slogan – “unleash your wild side”). What a horribly cynical, if all-too reality based, depiction of the entertainment industry. This is a luscious tale, Pete. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Don’t pan this story, it’s one of the best this week. aso full of good stuff interaction with Sal, self introspective thoughts from a has been star. Maybe it was better this way.What else do you do if you’re a faded star? Make yourself invisible? Hard to do you know. A keeper in your file.

  24. Observer Tim

    NO ALLIGATORS

    I called out to her, “Doctor Susa?”

    The dark-skinned raven-tressed beauty turned toward me, her brown eyes pinning me in place. Her deep green dress had a hemline just low enough to hide her panties and a bodice just high enough to keep the police at bay. Her strappy wedge sandals and crimson smile completed the come-hither effect from head to toe, and left only one question: why was she in the storm sewers?

    “Doctor Anderson; I was hoping you’d come.” She put just a little too much emphasis on the word come.

    “What are you doing down here? The alligators…”

    “It’s all right; I can handle the creatures down here.”

    The way she said handle made me want to be an alligator. Not that it would help: gators see us as a source of meat and that’s about it. Sometimes you get a guy like me who respects them and who they respect. That’s why they call me the Gator Whisperer.

    “Doctor Susa –Rhianna– it is totally unsafe for you to be down here. Three sewer workers have already been killed; the gators have obviously got a taste for human flesh. That’s why the city called me in to assess the situation and give recommendations on how to control them.”

    “But Jeffrey, there’s no need to control the alligators. They’re all dead.”

    “I sincerely doubt that. The environment down here is totally protected and they have no natural enemies. They’re not going to just die off.”

    She sashayed toward me in a way that made me repeat “two kids and a loving wife” like a mantra. When she rested her slender arms on my shoulders I almost forgot the words.

    “Read my lips, Jeffrey; there are no alligators down here.”

    Just then I heard the rumbled chuffing of a mature bull ‘gator.

    “Then what was that?”

    “Oh, that? That’s Nasser, one of my crocodiles. He was just saying that you smell delicious.”

    “What!?”

    “Well, you do.” She licked her lips seductively. “You’re pretty big, so he’ll probably leave some for me. Do say hello to Steve Irwin when you get to the other side; I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about..”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Tim, I just happened to click on early and read tnis. I’m still working on mine. This is a delicious piece of work, sexy, frightening, with a great ending. I really loved this. I can’t think of any better praise to say then that. Wow, you’re on track here. Whoo EEE!

    2. jhowe

      I loved that double hyphen thing in the second sentence. Very effective. Alligators in the sewers… I wish I’d thought of that. The sexy one knew there were no gators because her crocs got them. Pretty cool. It’s interesting how these prompts work to get our minds working.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks John (and Pete below). The wording of this sort of just clicked, and the sewer thing jumped at me as soon as I saw the prompt. I love prompts like this one that can really stretch the mind in a new direction.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reatha. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this prompt was how to get the old “alligators in the sewers” trope in. Also, I think I’ve been inspired to create further mythology around Dr. Rhianna Susa, the cannibalistic croc lady. 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Now Reatha, it really depends on how good a time you have with a raven haired beauty in a sewer. Then you can decide at the last moment, “was it worth it? Crunch.

      1. Observer Tim

        I sense I’d be more comfortable with wordplay than cosplay, though you never know. Just remember your story is a parade float, and your words are the flowers you decorate it with. If you want to practice with some obscure ones, try them out here. That way everybody wins. 🙂

  25. sudhiriyer

    “Nna uen dikilay; Nna odostdanaa”, I whispered, looking straight into Buka’s savage, reptile eyes, my mouth almost kissing his. That was how close I came to him. Buka was a 12 foot long lizard from the Amazon. I pulled my head back and gently withdrew my body away from him. Almost immediately, he mellowed down and followed me. I led him back to the swamp, and he disappeared into the still, brackish water like hot knife into butter.

    The onlookers delivered a roar of applause to this feat.

    “That was unbelievably marvellous. How did you do it?” Shaun Mills, the curator of the Tarangana Zoo patted me on the back.” This beast – This beast, I tell you – we could never tame it and I never thought you could do it either. That was impossible. What are you? An Avatar of Sobek?”

    “I am just myself – I talk to them and they talk to me. See that’s how simple it is”.

    Alligators and I have been good friends from a time I can’t remember. Not just alligators, but crocodiles and other reptiles too. My grandmother told me once,”It runs in the blood. You father too rattled rumbled unintelligibly with reptiles and I could never understand him. For him it was all about the geckos and crocs! But then, he was more enamoured by the leather trade. Your grandpa had said the blood line of the family comes from the Wangarr beings of Norther Territory in Australia, where the men associated themselves to belong to crocodile species“. I believe this as my bodily features are more Aboriginal.

    I take it, therefore, that it is ingrained in me to be able to communicate with reptiles. I have helped further the science of reptiles and amphibious studies and this has fetched me good money, and why wouldn’t it when the only other person who came close to doing it so well – the legendary Stephen Irving – is now dead. But I bet he couldn’t speak to them. He was not a Wangarr!

    It was the morning of Thanksgiving. The Alligators, being cold-blooded, were meant to be placid in winters. I was walking along the edge of the swamp in the zoo and delivering meat chunks with reptile supplements. A few bubbles emerged from the still water and then suddenly in a violent splash, Buka erupted from the calm, cold waters and sprang towards me. I was startled, but I threw myself back in time.

    “Eny chaca? Ahnaka!” (What’s the matter, this is food), I exclaimed.

    “Een. Een Ahnaka” (You.You are the food), Buka grunted back in anger.

    Two more gators sprang from the water, climbed onto the bank and made quick steps towards me.

    “Een Ahnaka”, all of them roared together. The cacophonous roar shook me.

    I panicked. “Its winter, its cold and they look agitated. All of them.”, I thought to myself and started retracing quick away from the bank to safety.

    I turned around and started making way towards the high ground to jump over the fence. I saw that Reptar – the fastest amongst the gators – was already on the high grounds in the enclosure waiting for me.

    It was an ambush. It looked planned.

    “What had I done? What was with these gators this morning?”

    Just 2 metres away from where I stood, turning my head in all possible directions , desperately looking for an escape, the ground seemed to erupt. It was a camouflage. Jaws, the oldest gator stuck herself out, raised her body and made short, fast rushes towards me.

    I was centred in the enclosure with a bask of gators from four sides.

    I cried for help. My cries sounded like a bleat.

    “Eny chaca? Nnea aneenenpa? Idungava neea”( Whats the matter?What did I do?Please let me go.). I cried.

    Buka inched closer to me and grunted rashly, ”Ngaua deelva dharua dthae, oopia eena hathaic”.
    I shuddered on hearing that.

    Boom! A blast occurred near the fence, and I collapsed.

    ********************************************************************

    “Mere shock, nothing else. Little rest and he will be OK”, I heard the doctor say this as my eyes opened. I found myself in a clinic.

    “I am alive? Oh my god, was that a dream? I thought I was being -”

    “No. It wasn’t a dream. It was all real”, Shaun Mills interjected.”You were going to be their Thanksgiving breakfast; I had to blow a flash-bang grenade and have them scattered to clear the ground before bringing you to safety. What was happening there? Why did they charge at you? Never seen reptiles so disturbed in cold winter mornings!”

    And, everything came back to me in a flash. I turned my head away from Shaun and said, “It was…nothing serious, I think some of my movements might have agitated them.”

    “But, they were all around you, as if they didn’t want to eat you but rather interrogate you as if -”

    “Can I be excused, please, Shaun? I think I need some rest.” I escaped myself from further interrogation. “I hope I still get to keep the job?”

    “As long as you are the Gator-buddy!” saying this, Shaun took my leave.

    I was left alone in silence. What happened in the Gator enclosure had shaken my confidence. Buka has just grunted something that put my life and career at stake. His eyes – I can’t forget them. Those were red, and with full of vengeance and rashness.

    Buka had said this: “You skinned our lot; Now, you – Die!”.

    My studies of Wangarr literature had taught me that reptiles have a unique cognizance of human lineage continuity. Somehow, Buka sees me as my father. My father used to kill crocs and gators for their skin, and my father might have slain one of Buka’s parent or ancestor for leather.

    I assumed a fetal sleeping position knowing well that I can never come close to Buka or any of the gators here. They know my past – a past that I had no connection with but yet for the gators, it is my past and they will get me.

    1. jhowe

      This is a very interesting story. Buka and company knew things and didn’t forget. Very intriguing. The voice of the MC was what I would think a gator whisperer would sound like. Good job.

    2. Observer Tim

      I love the nature spirit/shared memory aspect of this, Sudhiriyer. So much for forgiveness or judging a man based on his own actions. You did a great job giving the impression of men and alligators each standing at the front of a long line of ancestors, each with their own debts to pay. 🙂

  26. ReathaThomasOakley

    Alligator Whisperer

    “River’s rising,” my man pulled his boots off, put them on the porch railing. “I seen the moon shining off the water, just ’bout ten feet out, never been that close.” The Palatlakaha runs behind our place, but it usually runs a ways off. He fishes behind Ray Wright’s place, down the road south of us, so he don’t have to fight the bushes.

    “Hear anything?” I asked, but knew he’d of told me right off if he had. Here it was, end of April and we hadn’t heard nothing. “Coffee’s hot.”

    “Yeah, that’d be good. I’m just gonna sit here on this step a spell, night’s nice.”

    He was staring off into the underbrush when I brought two cups back.

    “You move that butt over ’bout a foot so’s I can sit down.” He laughed, but moved over and took a sip.

    “How long this coffee cooked?”

    “Well, if I’d knowed you was gonna stay in the swamp that long…”

    “Yeah, I know. I thought I heard something, so I didn’t come right back.”

    “Think it’ll be tonight?” I drank some coffee. “You’re right about this, musta boiled it. Sorry.”

    “Signs all there,” he put his arm around me and pulled me over. “You gotta do this?”

    “You know I do. It’s our way, ‘sides folks up in Gainesville depend on me, like they do cousin Marie on the Ocklawaha, like they did did my mama and her mama before.” I leaned up against my man, so close I could feel his heart beating against my side. “It’s our way.”

    “But, what happened to your granny, I don’t want that for you.”

    I slung the rest of my coffee off to the left.

    “What’s that?”

    “I threw my coffee…”

    “No, that ain’t it, listen…”

    Then I heard it, the low walk, what sounded like a log being pulled through the weeds and reeds. I held my breath until it came, a bellow I knew started deep down in his belly. In my mind I could see him rearing back with that long mouth opening, teeth gleaming in the moonlight.

    “I don’t never get used to that,” he shivered.

    “Billy Bowlegs,” I stood and handed him my cup. Then came the second bellow, lower, but louder, then the high walk sound. “Old Osceola’s back. Didn’t know if he’d make it another year. Gotta get my stuff ‘fore the fighting starts.”

    He was still sitting on the step when I came back out with my high boots and recording gear.

    “This just don’t seem right, they ain’t dogs or even hogs, they’re gators.”

    “Rather face a gator over a hog any day,” I stood above him and ruffled his hair, wild and white in the dark. “I tried to tell you, but you wanted me anyhow. I gotta go.”

    At the edge of the brush I turned back.

    “I forgot to take your boots in, you better do it. I seen that Black Racer on the porch this afternoon, they like to crawl inside boots.”

    1. jhowe

      You have a great way with mixing dialog and narrative. You told the story more with what was left out than what was put in. Great job of making every word count.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I hope you continue this, I feel like i’ve been left in the dark. Again, the voices are wonderful. Funny you should mention Billy Bowlegs. When you read mine, you’ll understand.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          I just read yours, it brought back south Florida memories. This has been a fun prompt. As an FYI, winters we live on the Palatlakaha and just a few days ago my husband said he could see water closer than ever. Mating season we can hear the gators. Ray Wright is our neighborhood snake whisperer.

    2. Observer Tim

      Reatha I have the impression that you’ve spent a lot of time around swamp people, whether in Florida or points east thereof. The speech and the impressions provide such a vivid description that I feel like I’m there. This could easily have happened on one of those National Geographic “people living in the wild” series. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Tim. I don’t think I know any “swamp” people, but do know lots of folks, mostly relatives, who live very close to, and respect, the land.

    3. Beebles

      Reatha, if you put this story between your hands and squeezed, all the atmosphere, character and landscape would just come oozing out over your fingers. its a story cake that deserves to be savoured. Another slice please. Super.

  27. cosi van tutte

    “What was my life like before all of this? Quiet. Simple. Idaho spud farmer. But I wanted adventure. I wanted excitement. Most important of all, I wanted to be remembered.”

    “Ah! Wait! Please I’m not done with my monologue. Please indulge my desire to blather. You see, I am more than what I’ve become. I am an actor. I mean it. I am an actor and I am the real thing. I’m no fly-by-good looks actor. I have substance. I have gravitas. I have seething loads of charisma. I’m sure you’ve noticed it.”

    “No. I’ve never been in anything big. I could have been. I should have been. I tried out for Batman. I should have gotten the role. I would have been the greatest Batman incarnation since Mike Tyson played him in that Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. My portrayal of Batman would have surpassed Val Kilmer’s Batman. I would have been that great.”

    “Please! Please! Humor me a bit longer. I’m sure that you—Hey! Quit drooling on my arm. Listen to me and my lustrous voice of wonderment. What do you mean my voice isn’t lustrous? It is. You should hear me sing.”

    “Yes. I’m sorry. I got off track. So, yes. I tried out for Batman and Robin. I was called back. I almost had it in my grasp. Then, George Clooney tried out for it. And, as luck twists and turns bad, all of the casting crew were members of the George Clooney Fan Club. So, he got the role of my lifetime and I was kicked out to live on the streets. No, I didn’t actually live on the streets. But it could have happened.”

    “I don’t like how you’re looking at me. Madame! Put that knife down right now. I am not done talking. No! I don’t intend to talk all day and all night. I just want to finish my monologue. Is that too much to ask for? Yes. I know that you’re hungry, but please. Humor me.”

    “I left the audition room and went to the Clodhoppers Bistro & Grill. I got drunk. Oh, so horribly drunk. I woke up the next day to a powerful epiphany: Hollywood didn’t want me. Well. I didn’t want any of them either. What did I want? I knew the answer without pondering. I wanted to spend the rest of my life capturing crocodiles.”

    “Please don’t breathe in my face like that. It makes me feel claustrophobic. Give me a little more space. Back up. Back up. Oh, just keep backing up until you’re up against the wall. No? Well, I had to try.”

    “Unfortunately, a crocodile hunting license is prohibitively expensive. Alligator hunting licenses, on the other hand, are so much cheaper. Well, they were in the 1990’s. I’m sure prices have changed considerably since then.”

    “Would you be willing to loosen my bonds? Just a little, mind you. A little looser around my wrists. A little looser around my legs and feet. No? Rats.”

    “I took all of the mandatory courses and found several laboratories that had no moral issues with experimenting on the alligators I captured.”

    “I charged outrageous fees for my services, but no one ever objected. They knew. They understood. Being a professional alligator hunter is not an easy job. Life was beautiful and lovely, with all of the money and fame I had always craved.”

    “Then, the unexpected turn happened. An alligator escaped from me and joined the Convicted Commie Crime Club. He started a revolution. There were alligators rioting in the streets and drinking bamboo wine and eating strong Parisian pastries. Then, they found me and cornered me in my penthouse suite. I begged for mercy and lamented and wailed with a dramatic passion. If my life were a movie, I would have won the Oscar for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.”

    “My theatrics paid off. They spared my life and brought me to you, the fair and lovely Queen Aligaridae, Queen of all alligators. And I am at your mercy.”

    “A bargain, you say? You’ll spare my life. I’m liking this bargain so far. I’ll stop all persecution of all alligators? But it’s my livelihood! My sole claim to fame and fortune!”

    “No! I will never return to Hollywood. They are a group of horrible, corrupt do-badders. I refuse to associate my clean name with their sordid debauchery. What? Go on stage? Perform before a live audience. See their faces watching me, admiring me. Hear their roars of laughter and their sniveled tears. This idea appeals to me more than you could imagine.”

    “But what is the catch? I assume there is one and it is—What? An alligator will follow me wherever I may go? I don’t like that catch.”

    “No, you do have a good point. ‘Being eaten alive’ is not a better catch.

    “So, I’ll play your game and dance to your drummer. I’ll give up my life of, as you call it, wretched villainy. I will walk the boards and win Tony awards by the houseful. I’ll have lovers and mistresses and half-crazed fan-girls. Life will be amazing even with an alligator at my side at all times.”

    “Thank you for putting that knife down. Now, could you please untie me? Please?”

    1. jhowe

      Cosi, you are quite the entertainer. A story told as a complete monolog is difficult to pull off and make it fun to read. My favorite part was when he said, “No? Rats.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Cosi, what a blast to read. Having never tried a monolog story, I’ m clueless as to the difficulty but I can magine. My favorite, “No you do have a good point. Being eaten alive is not a better catch.”

      2. cosivantutte

        Thanks, jhowe!

        I had a lot of fun writing this. There were certain details where I just went with the first thing that came to mind, like the Convicted Commie Crime Club, just for the fun of it. 😀

    2. Observer Tim

      I love the voice you gave this, Cosi. I wish I could write an inveterate bullshitting weasel this well. I’m a little curious about why the Queen of the Alligators would need a knife – it’s over-the top scary, more tickling the “that’s strange” bone. Overall, brilliant. 🙂

    3. JosephFazzone

      So many wonderful moments in this. I loved the Mike Tyson reference. I loved the drinking of bamboo wine and eating strong (hehe strong) Parisian pastries. I love the grandeur the MC elevates himself up to. This is not a very humble soul. Hysterical! Here’s to hoping that the stage life suits him! What with his seething loads of charisma. He’s still alive so I assume that is true. I also really love the one sided dialogue. I really enjoyed this story!

  28. HappyGoLucky

    Run

    You started hunting them
    But now they’re hunting you
    You thought that you could whisper
    All of the secrets you used on them
    Once you had them in your hands
    But now they’re using your tactics
    To come after
    You

    So run
    Run and run and run
    But remember:
    You can run
    But
    You
    Can’t
    Hide

    Poems are more of my thing- this one’s kind of short since I’m relatively busy at the moment… Feedback anyone? 🙂

    1. jhowe

      I’m not good at poetry but I enjoyed reading this. The antagonist in this piece could be an alligator or anything really. To me, that made it a better story/poem than if you’d mentioned alligators.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this little poem also. He better run preety quick, gaters can run 11 miles per hour.
        I’m sure I could outrun one if needed but I wouldn’t relish trying to do so.

    2. Observer Tim

      I’m a big fan of lyric and/or rhythmic poetry, and with a little tweaking the first stanza could be nudged into the second category. The second stanza works very well in its visual form; you created a nice descending wave that allows each line to stretch the one following for emphasis. My only thought on that bit was that “But you” could have been put on one line to avoid the disconnect of the longer word (Can’t) on the next line.

      I can totally hear Rod Serling reading this. Very nicely done, Happy. 🙂

  29. Trevor

    (Continuation of I Can Hear You and Books And Characters)

    Word Count: 631

    The Hunter

    I’ve been called the Alligator Whisperer. But don’t get the wrong impression of me from that; I didn’t give myself that title. The locals were astonished by my ingenious techniques for luring the green creatures into traps and the word got around pretty quick in such a close knit town. I didn’t toot my own horn or brag about my skill. Quite frankly, I’d rather be doing something else for a living. But it’s a good source of income for someone who never finished high school, so I guess this is where I’ll be ‘til the time comes.

    But one night, there was a bit of an incident. I was called in to remove an alligator that had taken home in a man’s above ground pool. How the slimy critter crawled in there and how he went unnoticed by the family inside the house is beyond me, but I went there anyway. When I arrived, I set up a trap and started my routine method of luring him out. I pinched my throat and made a deep croaking sound, almost like a bullfrog’s croak. Intrigued, the alligator peeked its’ head out of the pool, but I was hidden behind the trap, out of the old guy’s sights. I heard him crawl out and stomp its’ way in my direction. I thought it was another job well done.

    Until the footsteps stopped. It was like the gator had just stopped midway to the trap. I waited a few minutes, thinking it might’ve stopped to relieve itself, which I certainly didn’t want in the trap. But after at least 10 minutes, I mustered the nerve to peek out at him.

    He wasn’t alone. Standing by him was a mob of at least 10 other alligators and crocodiles. What scared me the most was the look in their eyes. They all had a look of blazing fury in their eyes, as if ready to pounce on me and rip me apart limb by limb. But I wasn’t about to go out like that.

    As quick as I could, I turned around and ran like Hell for my truck. I heard the front door to the dilapidated house fly open and the woman who owned the house come out screaming at me. “You get back here, you son of a bitch! I’ll make damn sure you never work in these parts again!” But I didn’t stick around to hear the rest of her tirade. I started my truck and peeled out of there without looking back.

    I hated that I had to leave. But I knew a woman with that big a mouth was bound to go running off about my failure to everyone who would listen. And in a small town like this, I was surely going to be out of business, despite my previous accomplishments. I didn’t want to go, but I had to. But before I did, I had some loose ends to take care of.

    I arrived at my new (though soon-to-be old) house at around midnight. It may not have been much, but it was home to me. I walked inside and made my way down to my favorite room: The basement. There he was, lying so peacefully on the bed, having patiently waiting for my return. Too bad the news I had for him tonight wasn’t of the good variety. He knew it the second he saw the gun in my hand.
    “Sorry, Brad. But it’s time for us to part ways now.” He started crying, so I kneeled down and gave him one last parting kiss on the lips. Then, I took the gun, put it to his chest, and fired.

    That was almost six months ago. But even after all that time, Brad is STILL my favorite.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a rather gruesome ending for poor Brad: not just to be killed off, but to be killed off as an afterthought. This is an interesting trip inside the mind of his tormentor. 🙂

      I can see a whole different take on this, and despite the warning it’s where I though it was headed. My mind made up a scenario not unlike The Frighteners, with gators replacing ghosts.

  30. jhowe

    The Caribbean sunrise blazed orange and yellow and swirled across the swells of the turquoise water. A glorious trade wind cooled the air as two thin dreadlocked men sat silently in the battered skiff and prepared the wooden lobster traps.

    “What the hell was that,” Manny said as the boat lurched.

    “No worries mon,” the lobster man said. “Probably a sea turtle.”

    “Do sea turtles have big freaking teeth?”

    “No mon, they have beaks, like birds.”

    “Then that was no goddamn sea turtle.”

    The creature once again crashed into the side of the small boat and they both saw the rows of gleaming teeth and the dark green scaled reptilian skin.

    “It’s a freaking alligator,” Manny said.

    “There’s no alligators in Jamaica mon.”

    “How bout dinosaurs?”

    “None of them neither.”

    “Then we got trouble,” Manny said as the creature raised its head and sank its teeth into the side of the boat. It thrashed the massive tail and both men were thrown into the water. They swam furiously as the boat broke into bits.

    “We ain’t gonna to make it,” Manny shouted, spitting water.

    “Swim mon, it’s our only choice.”

    A sleek power boat roared and reversed as it came alongside the floundering men. An aluminum ladder was lowered and they both clambered into the lifesaving craft. The alligator bumped the side of the boat softly and stared with black protruding eyes.

    “I see you’ve met Clarence,” a tall attractive blond said as she tossed a dead chicken into the gaping mouth.

    “I don’t like Clarence,” Manny said. “Not one freaking bit.”

    “Most people don’t, at first,” she said, tossing another chicken.

    “I hope you don’t run out of chickens mon.”

    “I’ve got more chickens.” She tossed one and wiped her hands on her short shorts. “He usually eats about four.”

    “He would’ve eaten two skinny ass Jamaicans if you hadn’t come around,” Manny said.

    “Oh, I don’t think he would’ve actually eaten you,” she said. “I’m Vivian by the way. I’m an alligator whisperer.”

    The men stared blankly.

    “Regardless of who you claims to be,” the lobster man said. “I’m out one boat.”

    “Oh, you can have this one,” she said and tossed the last chicken. “My husband has more.”

    “You whisper to alligators?” Manny said.

    “Never mind that mon.” He squinted his eyes at the woman. “What you mean I can have this one.”

    “Or I have a bigger one if you want to look at it.”

    “No, this one will do.”

    “Ok, then. If you’ll just drop me at the marina, I’ll be on my way.” She leaned down near the water and talked quietly to Clarence. He turned and swam off.

    Later, the lobster man anchored the boat off shore and the men waded to the beach. A group of people stared, admiring the beautiful craft.

    “We be catching lots of lobsters in this boat mon.”

    “It won’t be the same,” Manny said. “Plus my stash was on the old boat. I bet that freaking Clarence got it.”

    “If he did, he got no worries mon.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This reminds me of a song from 1949, specifically “Tis Only a Matter of Mind Over Matter”, by Edmundo Ros (his big hits were the Chiquita Banana theme and The Coffee Song).

      If you’re chased by a gator just look back later. (not in the song, but in the rhythm)

      I love a well-told “just so” story, and this is pretty much top of the line in that genre. 🙂

  31. ReathaThomasOakley

    Alligator Whisperer

    (A very loose connection to the prompt, but I’ve been working on ways to connect the first 1960 Girl stories with Sarah’s story from 1905. This is a prequel to the first Girl story, my first posting, from last January.)

    “Granny, tell me agin what they doin’?” Me and Granny was huddled up next to the wood stove what I been bringing wood in for all day.

    “They’s smudgin’ the groves, makin’ smoke so’s they don’t freeze, folks cain’t lose this harvest.” Granny pulled her quilt up closer ’round her neck. “What you laughin’ at Girl? Losin’ a crop ain’t funny.”

    “No, mam, but you look like an ole gopher turtle, jest pokin’ yore head outta a shell, only yore shell’s a quilt.” Granny shut her eyes and shook her head.

    “Girl, Girl, when you gonna grow up?” Granny reached over and pulled open the stove door and spit in the fire. I liked the sound that made, but didn’t much like the smell.

    “I don’t like how that smudgin’ smells.” I moved over closer to Granny.

    “Well, you don’t like it now, it’s gonna get worse come mornin’, and ’bout afternoon you blow yore nose, it’s gonna come out black.” Granny laughed. “You wanna get yore bricks to heat up on the stove to warm yore bed?”

    Me and Mama slept in the bedroom, Mama got a whole bed, I got a pallet on the floor. It got right cold come winter. Granny had a cot over by the wall, but mostly slept in her chair so’s to tend the fire.

    “Yes, mam. Granny you got a story for me, a good one ‘fore Mama gets home?” Mama was working later down to the tourist home, big bus load a Northern tourists comin’ tomorrow and they was gonna freeze!

    “Girl, you ’bout too old for stories and foolishness, ain’t you?” Granny said, but she was grinning. “You want one ’bout how the gators near ’bout got ole John Palmer one day when he went gator huntin’?”

    “Granny? Why all yore true stories is ’bout ole John Palmer? If he was a real man, how come he gets killed off ever time?” Granny opened the stove door and pushed in more wood.

    “Oh, John Palmer was real alright, just died too peaceful. Shoulda been ate by gators…” I heard the front door opening. “Yore mama’s home. Wrap them bricks up in a towel, take to yore beds. Yore mama’s gonna be cold walkin’ all this way home in the dark.”

    “Yes, mam.” I got the bricks off the stove top. “Hey there, Mama. I’m gonna warm up yore bed, and there’s coffee on the stove and some blackeyed peas warm.”

    In the bedroom I put the bricks under the quilts, put on my nightgown, and listened to Mama and Granny.

    “Myrtis, what you givin’ me this paper for? I ain’t got time for all the foolishness the print now days.”

    “The ads, Mama, look there at the ads. Place in town’s lookin’ for help. Tomorrow I’m gonna send the Girl to town.”

    1. jhowe

      Loose connection…probably; but I sure enjoyed it. My favorite stories usually swerve a little off prompt. And I love prequels and this story collection definitely deserves a prequel.

      1. jhowe

        The Caribbean sunrise blazed orange and yellow and swirled across the swells of the turquoise water. A glorious trade wind cooled the air as two thin dreadlocked men sat silently in the battered skiff and prepared the wooden lobster traps.

        “What the hell was that,” Manny said as the boat lurched.

        “No worries mon,” the lobster man said. “Probably a sea turtle.”

        “Do sea turtles have big freaking teeth?”

        “No mon, they have beaks, like birds.”

        “Then that was no goddamn sea turtle.”

        The creature once again crashed into the side of the small boat and they both saw the rows of gleaming teeth and the dark green scaled reptilian skin.

        “It’s a freaking alligator,” Manny said.

        “There’s no alligators in Jamaica mon.”

        “How bout dinosaurs?”

        “None of them neither.”

        “Then we got trouble,” Manny said as the creature raised its head and sank its teeth into the side of the boat. It thrashed the massive tail and both men were thrown into the water. They swam furiously as the boat broke into bits.

        “We ain’t gonna to make it,” Manny shouted, spitting water.

        “Swim mon, it’s our only choice.”

        A sleek power boat roared and reversed as it came alongside the floundering men. An aluminum ladder was lowered and they both clambered into the lifesaving craft. The alligator bumped the side of the boat softly and stared with black protruding eyes.

        “I see you’ve met Clarence,” a tall attractive blond said as she tossed a dead chicken into the gaping mouth.

        “I don’t like Clarence,” Manny said. “Not one freaking bit.”

        “Most people don’t, at first,” she said, tossing another chicken.

        “I hope you don’t run out of chickens mon.”

        “I’ve got more chickens.” She tossed one and wiped her hands on her short shorts. “He usually eats about four.”

        “He would’ve eaten two skinny ass Jamaicans if you hadn’t come around,” Manny said.

        “Oh, I don’t think he would’ve actually eaten you,” she said. “I’m Vivian by the way. I’m an alligator whisperer.”

        The men stared blankly.

        “Regardless of who you claims to be,” the lobster man said. “I’m out one boat.”

        “Oh, you can have this one,” she said and tossed the last chicken. “My husband has more.”

        “You whisper to alligators?” Manny said.

        “Never mind that mon.” He squinted his eyes at the woman. “What you mean I can have this one.”

        “Or I have a bigger one if you want to look at it.”

        “No, this one will do.”

        “Ok, then. If you’ll just drop me at the marina, I’ll be on my way.” She leaned down near the water and talked quietly to Clarence. He turned and swam off.

        Later, the lobster man anchored the boat off shore and the men waded to the beach. A group of people stared, admiring the beautiful craft.

        “We be catching lots of lobsters in this boat mon.”

        “It won’t be the same,” Manny said. “Plus my stash was on the old boat. I bet that freaking Clarence got it.”

        “If he did, he got no worries mon.”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          jhowe, your stories make me homesick for the keys and all the fishing. Drat it man, how’d i get so damn old, sitting in a chair dreaming about the ocean. Thanks for taking me back. This is turnig into a great series. I love the color you write.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha, you certainly know your way around a prequel. I love the tone and look forward to the next part which somehow I think is gonna rock the boat.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Your The Girl stories are always a pleasure to read. I know that I’ve said it before, but ehh. I’ll say it again: If you ever decide to publish these stories, I would so buy it. 😀

      Just so you know, this part made me smile -> “Granny? Why all yore true stories is ’bout ole John Palmer? If he was a real man, how come he gets killed off ever time?”
      “Oh, John Palmer was real alright, just died too peaceful. Shoulda been ate by gators…”

      I think everyone who read your Sarah stories will agree with that last line. 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      This so fits the idea of a bedtime story that Granny might have told the Girl. I really enjoy seeing the way people can twist these prompts into their ongoing stories, and this one is really inventive. I may steal the idea. 🙂

      You’ve done a great job of keeping the character’s voices despite the long interlude.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Tim. Your comments are always so positive. We had a cold snap here, so I was chilly writing this, imagined stories by the wood stove. I still can hear Granny and The Girl.

    4. JosephFazzone

      This was a great moment between the two girls. You can feel the age difference in the dialogue, that they lived a challenging existence, and there’s a genuine love here. It’s all so well put together in so little time. So real, and completely drew me in. Loved it!

COMMENT