Short Story Of the Day (flash piece), Gator Call by Bill Chance

“Thoreau the “Patron Saint of Swamps” because he enjoyed being in them and writing about them said, “my temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings

Alligator, Robert Tabak

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#43). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

Over the last few summers I have gone to New Orleans for a Writing Marathon. Even though last year’s was a disaster –  I always look forward to it a lot. Let’s see – I learned about the New Orleans Writing Marathon on November 11, 2012 when Candy ran into one of the participants at breakfast at St. Vincent’s Guest House.

Obviously, it was not going to be possible to pull this off live this year. So they did a virtual writing event instead. It was fun, not as fun as the real thing, but cool nonetheless. We did three writing sessions –  one10 minutes, and two 20 or so.  That gives me three entries. I did edit them a bit and change the point of view. It is what it is.

Gator Call

My boss on the construction project was from Boston and was completely freaked out by the whole thing of working in the Louisiana swamp. He kept me around because I had worked here before and had experience my whole life in tropical, dangerous, insane places. I don’t know how many times I had to reassure him that it was going to be OK – that we weren’t all going to die, killed by water that rose from the ground, or bees, or snakes or any of the other horrible things that lived in the swamp. I don’t know if he was crazy or I was… probably both of us.

Luckily, our work crew was great. They were local Cajuns – I think that all twenty of them were related to each other in one way or another. They were used to working in heat and in dangerous conditions and would follow instructions and work really really hard right up until five PM. At the minute the day ended they would drop what they were doing and the coolers of beer would pop out of their trunks.

One day, the work crew super, an old, sturdy Cajun with a name that had way too many vowels in it asked the guy from Boston, “Hey, you wanna go see my ‘gator?” Of course we did.

We piled into his rusty pickup and drove for an hour through the densest jungle on oil lease dirt roads past thick trees, tangling vines, and stretches of open water. Finally we stopped at a little bridge where a huge pipeline emerged from the much and crossed on a little bridge.

The super began giving his “Gator Call” – an inhuman whooping and throwing chunks of white bread into the water.

“This is nuts!” I said to myself. When I looked up the pair were standing on top of the pipeline. The guy from Boston’s eyes were so big they were touching. He was pointing at the water at something but couldn’t talk.

“What the hell are you guys doing up there? How did you climb up there so fast?” I said as I followed his finger into the water.

Suddenly a huge tree I had been staring at opened its mouth and gobbled up a soggy hunk of bread. It wasn’t a tree, it was an alligator. In the next split second I discovered I was standing on the pipe next to the other two.

It looked like a dinosaur. I had seen small alligators in zoos – but this was different.

I learned something that day. I didn’t know that alligators ate bread.