Gator Man


Gator Man pushed himself, the strength of his bone-plated tail whooshing him through the cement sidewalks. When he first hit San Francisco, he purchased a Muni Pass—good for unlimited travel—but when small mammals, such as poodles and children, rode, the drivers didn’t let him board. His upper body, the human-looking part, was emaciated from the grapefruit diet, a vanity experiment turned bad. He had wanted to be the first man-reptile to hang glide over the Bay Area—his six-pack abs and toned arms in every supermarket tabloid—but he knew it would require upper body strength he didn’t have now.


As he was crawling around the pier one day, sick of watching the damn seagulls preen, he spotted an eating establishment in a secluded corner. He thought of the sprawling mosquito-infested swamp he left behind, the gator dock and alligators being skinned for resale, while absorbing the restaurant’s Polaroid moments: fishing nets slung from the ceiling, tattered suitcase plastered with travel stickers, aging fire extinguisher, and rusted cola cans. When he turned around, he surveyed the diners eating their chunks of fish baked in motor oil and fried onions. Well, the onions were not in any danger of extinction.


I’ll have a steak and shoestring fries, he told the waitperson after she prattled through the special catches of the day. Although his entree lacked the seasonings to singe his tongue and warm his belly, he noticed that his face and lips were tingling from the organic orange ice tea. The blaring disco, which had been so loud that he was swamped by the sound earlier, stopped suddenly. He felt woozy and was about to say something about anaphylaxis, but couldn’t move his arms. Everyone screamed when the man-reptile slithered on the floor, tail thrashing, breaking the legs off wooden tables and chairs. He heard the noise of the camera lens as a fellow wearing a white double-breasted jacket and checkered pants dragged him back to the kitchen.


A week later, at the hospital gift shop, he saw the National Enquirer headlines. Half-Man, Half-Alligator. Bizarre Creature Spotted at Pier with Chef Hunter La Fête. Gator Man was in a wheelchair now and considered a career as a skydiving instructor for handicapped children. Several specialists recommended physical therapy or cardio wheelchair racing before he could strap on his prosthetic legs, but they all agreed that the freak accident that severed his lower half brought about some rather delicious Grilled Gator Tail and Etouffée specials at the best Cajun restaurants in town.

"Gator Man"
Inspired by "Manigator Found" by Maleeka Spriggs in Weekly World News