The alligator gnawed upon the stray shreds of flesh flapping along the boy’s femur. The boy’s pallid face had long melted into the joyless hearth of the dead. Not a face the alligator would recognize, much less the police upon discovering the chewed up body weeks later. The boy would never know the pleasant furrows that thickened in middle age, the initial panic upon discovering the disappearing hairline, the giddy shock that came from losing virginity, the many mistakes to be made and made again, and the happy realization that came from knowing nothing. The alligator had known some of this in her twenty-two years, loosening many eggs and watching tiny tails spiral away after a mere year. The alligator, however, was not sentient enough to understand the intricate workings of the Judeo-Christian calendar. She could not understand holidays, weekends, or even the two dollar Tuesdays that had been erected ignorantly in her honor (“Grab a Gator beer before seven!” shouted a wet bartender a hundred miles away), and certainly didn’t waste her scalar energies worshiping a god. But she remembered the pokes and prods from the farm and had been actuated by some primal vengeance directed towards any intruders in the glades, whether human, lower on the food chain, or perfunctory nuisances that great jaws could reduce and transmute into acceptable nutritional value. The alligator only consorted with humans from these tertiary vantage points. But the boy and the alligator occupied the same natural realm, shared more in common than they could ever confess to each other. Even if this duo could somehow work out an interspecies communicative conduit. Even if the boy could walk away like a Dickensian cripple, hopping proudly on one good leg while hailing a hackney, and passing along a tale decades later beginning, “Let me tell you about the morning in which I met the alligator.” All the boy and the alligator had at this present moment was crazed conjecture. Sometimes, this was enough to get by when there weren’t any explanations.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.