Tall Tales and How to Become One
Please enjoy the first Chapter to Legendary: Tall Tales and How to Become One.
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Legendary: Tall Tales and How to Become OnePart 1: Desiring Legends
i. the creature from the black lagoon
“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis
The hot Florida summer sun pierced through the long black limbs of the canopy like a thousand strong fingers crawling across the swampy ground and cypress knees. Cicadas and honeybees sang their vibrating songs in anthem. Squirrels danced and chased one another. Fluttering leaves, shuddering in the breeze, mimicked a green ocean wave standing upright along the riverbank.
Out of the black underbelly of the forest, came two silhouette figures, slowly trudging through the muddy slop. One carried a ten-foot piece of rebar across his shoulder; the other held a .22 rifle draped across his forearm. Their shoes sloshed in the mud, sinking ankle-deep into the muck as they approached the edge of the river. The older handsome brother stared at the stagnant black water. He jabbed the rebar at the end of the bank. It stuttered in his hands, hitting dry ground only a few inches below the mud.
He edged himself a few yards down the bank and stabbed at it again. It, too, hit solid ground below the mud. The two men quietly continued their way down the river, stopping to jab at it every few yards. Finally, the rod appeased the young man when it cut through the bank and sunk half its length into the ground.
Without a word, the young man stepped slowly into the black water, using the rebar to balance himself. The cold shocking river rose up around his belly and torso, stopping just above the chest. He bobbed in the water, positioning his pole about his waist. He made slow methodical jabs under the riverbank into the large cavern the pole had discovered.
Maneuvering about the edges and crooks of cypress roots and boulders, his pole hit the belly of a beast that came rushing out, straight at his legs, taking him off his feet. Out of the water came the head of a ten-foot alligator. The man and monster stared into one another’s eyes, challenging each to flinch.
“Shoot him, Roy,” the young man said flatly.
On the bank, Marvin Alderman’s younger brother Roy was holding his .22 rifle. He already had the gun up and aimed at the beast. He fired a single shot at the back of the alligator’s eye, only three feet from Marvin’s face.
The gator went berserk, flipping its body into a death roll, throwing waves and mud everywhere. Marvin was already under the water, diving away from the animal. He came up out of the water a few yards from the affair. He awkwardly laughed and moaned as he pulled himself out next to his brother.
Roy was still aiming at the water, slowly settling down. The two men waited patiently, their eyes fixed on the gator hole. After a few moments, a large yellow belly rose out of the water. The two laughed and jumped in the water, hauling in their bounty.
“That’s a new one for the stories.” Marvin exclaimed with a smile on his face, grabbing the massive tail and pulling with all his might.
“That’s a stupid one for our grandchildren,” Roy replied.
In their short lives, they had cleared dozens of gator holes in the same exact manner. But today, Marvin stared down the barrel of nature’s gun. Today, he looked face-to-face with what monsters’ eyes carry; and today he walked away the victor. There was no shame in him. There was no panic or fear. There were resolve and response. Today, the monster lost and bravery won.