Cheers to Gators
by Justin Hannah
Werner left the funeral early. Funerals in the bayou are different. He doesn’t mind them in the heat because the cracks and wafts of the paper fans deafen him to the words of the preacher. As he looks up at the pulpit the preacher has his hands up in the air. Werner sees in the corner of his eye Cormac seated next to him, drawing the whole altar scene on the back of a bar napkin with his pen.
Werner didn’t know the dead man longer than a minute. He went for an early morning walk before the sun came fully up. While walking down the river side, he came across a dying man. He clutched his heart and looked up at the sky. “He wasn’t scared” he told Werner proudly. That he didn’t mind dying in the quiet morning, with the air heavy with Spring. The man just asked him to stay with him until he passed. The man didn’t give any last words, he just smiled through the pain and went. Werner cried softly and sang a sweet German lullaby to him after he had parted with his body.
Werner stood up and excused himself from the Church. He caught some piercing eyes from the clergy that met with all the indifference he could muster.
Outside the air is thick and sweet. The air feels great in his lungs. He makes his way down to the same river, a few hundred feet from the Church. Lying stoically in the sun, an alligator is having his morning sun bath. His mouth open and being cleaned by some of the small birds. It sees a large man walking towards him, the man is removing his tie and jacket, leaving them hanging on a branch thick with gossamers. He removes his shirt and shoes. He isn’t wearing socks the alligator notices. The alligator senses hisses. This only quickens the pace of the man. The alligator turns to the safety of the murky water only to be jumped on as he enters. They wrestle. Both thrashing around in the shallows until the man, finally, pulls the alligator onto land.
He then opens up its mouth and peers into it. Another man, calmly smoking a cigarette produces a flask from the inside of his coat and pulls lovingly on it. After his swig he pours it into Werner’s mouth. Then he pours a bit into the alligators which thrashes a bit, shocked at the sensation but not the taste of the single malt. Werner then kisses it on the top of the head and dismounts. The alligator slowly walks into the calming water. The smoking man offers the wet man his handkerchief.