Alligator, Alligator

The wind in Chicago was slick, yet sharp as it razored past skin and leaves. On the shore of a bay leading to an ocean I stood along with a growing gaggle of others awaiting a flight that was to take each passenger to his individual destination. As to where I was to end up, I had no knowledge nor any concern. I was engulfed with the atmosphere of this seaside shanty of an airport located in the middle of Chicago, Illinois. My father was joining me on this trip. He stood wearily at the chain link fence that divided the bay from the terminal which was really just an exaggerated concrete backyard porch. Sniffles and sweat exuded from his direction due to his drippy sinus infection.

I decided to take a bay side walk so I could look at shops and galleries in which I had absolutely no interest. I uncoordinatedly walked into a high-end store and was immediately attacked by perfume spray girls in tropical colored polo shirts and pleated khaki pants. They all had gigantic teeth that reflected the fluorescent lights that glared overhead. I saw my horrified expression in those reflective chompers and I had to purse my lips so as not to suddenly explode with laughter. One of them pointed an ominous and stinky spray nozzle in my direction, but I ducked and glided toward the door. Another spray girl got sneaky and tried to get me from behind, so I squatted low to the ground and rolled out of the store onto the crusty sidewalk which did not smell as bad as the ammunition those girls were trying to use against me. I sat up and saw them glaring at me through the glossy windows. They looked like the children of the damned. I decided to walk back to the airport.

Back at the airport, the crowd was getting anxious and impatient. The weather was mottled blue, cold, foreboding. A cheerful announcement blared that the plane was arriving and spirits chippered up. An elderly man wearing sunglasses looked my way and revealed a twisted, seemingly forced grin which was embossed on his maniacal mug. Like a child with a hidden, yet forbidden piece of candy, he deviously pulled a plastic bottle from his pocket. His shriveled hand unscrewed the cap of the cloudy bottle that looked like a nail polish remover container and then, he took a swig. His smile grew wider across his face as if a sculptor had chiseled more rock away to create a devilish countenance, a look that each one of us can conjure if one so desired.

Everyone conglomerated by the chain-link fence which separated the airport from the bay, the bay that seemed exhausted in its gradual, melancholic undulations. It seemed that everyone in the crowd was staring at the sun which broke through the cold sky. I saw uplifted eyes ready to see their homes, and scarves, many scarves around wind-blown necks.

I kept looking over the fence. Thick water; melted blue wax water; sun-spotted water that flashed its diamond reflection in one's shocked and blinded eyes. Surrounding jaded faces seemed not to notice the grace before them as their eyes squinted and scoffed at the port to the sea. My eyes stayed open and focused, and within one glossy lens, a dolphin appeared from the water and dabbled around for a bit.. Soon enough, the cold, disgruntled crowd noticed the creature. They gathered about three feet from the fence, gleefully awaiting a performance of the flips, playful splashing and squeaking with which dolphins are often associated. About a third of the crowd was leaning on the fence, trying to get a glimpse. Another third was ambivalent about the local marine life and they remained closer to the snack bar and outdoor waiting area provided by the airport. The remaining third of the people on my flight were huddled together, their rigid backs facing the crowds. These people made up the strange group who seemed sedated by the sun as it reflected their faces into the sky. Not one of them talked; tightening their scarves, they just stared and grinned at the sun as if experiencing a divine manifestation of a prophecy.

I started over toward the railing where I had seen the dolphin. After spotting a massive movement in my peripheral vision, I looked over the edge to see the frightened dolphin ducking under the water. Water sprayed up out of the bay and a leathery, disgruntled alligator emerged from the water, thrashing its tail. In disbelief, I blinked only to see another alligator swimming slowly around, dangerously close to the fence. They seemed to be violently carousing, trying to catapult themselves out of the water. Taking a deep breath, I turned around to warn those standing close to the fence to get out of the area, but before I could speak, one of the creatures somehow hoisted itself onto the massive, jagged rocks and vaulted its scaled body over on top of the crowd. The creature must have been at least twelve feet long thrashing through the air like a crow whose wing had just been broken in battle. In a warped, timeless manner, it landed on the group of travelers with the uplifted eyes. Their screams were soon muffled by a snapping crunch, then silence cut through the gasps for breath heard in the air.

I slowly watched the alligator's massive jaw clamp down on the people in its range; they seemed like small rodents in its grasp, some trembling, some dead. Those trapped under its trunk were crushed and I could hear the suffocating and I could see the feeble motion of the few still alive, unable to get out from under the green behemoth. I knew there was another one in the water, but my legs had turned to oatmeal as I saw the crunching of bones by razor-sharp teeth. The long-awaited plane arrived, drowning out all sounds of the death that surrounded me.

Someone sedated the alligator, but it was too late for those who had already been crushed to death by the reptile. I started to look as they pried open the jaws, but I could not bear to watch the hideous excavation. I boarded the plane. I had to leave. I kept thinking that I could have stopped it. I had seen the animal minutes before it attacked. Down deep, I knew there was nothing that I could have done to stop the will of one of nature's beasts. Feeling somewhat sedated myself, I could not stop thinking how grateful I was to still be alive, unharmed by that horrid alligator. As the airplane prepared for takeoff, I put on a set of headphones and sat next to a small, frosty window. While I watched the stewardess demonstrate the safety procedures, I looked out of the window, staring into the sun, wondering what prophecy would be fulfilled next.

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