Once Upon A Time…..

Once upon a time, there was a young man.  We’ll call him Eric.  And Eric LOVED to catch alligators.

Eric was lucky enough to work at a place that was literally infested with alligators and spent many a lunch break and lazy afternoon catching alligators at work and then releasing them, just to pass the time.

Eventually Eric decided that it would just be swell if he had a pet alligator of his own.  Now bringing an alligator home from work just couldn’t be done, seeing as how Eric rode a bike to work and any alligator worth having just wouldn’t fit in his handlebar basket.  Luckily, Eric had a friend who lived on a small farm.  And that small farm had an alligator in it that was juuuuuuuust the right size for Eric to catch and bring home with him.

So one fateful day Eric took a trip to the farm and went to the pond and caught that friendly alligator and brought him home.  Releasing the alligator was a bit more tricky than catching it, but as far as Eric could tell Mr. Alligator (Eric named the alligator Mr. Alligator.  Brave and handsome-Eric is, creative-Eric’s not.) was very happy in his new home at Eric’s house.  There was a deep pond, lots of privacy and plenty of fish and frogs and such to snack on.

But much to Eric’s dismay, the next day after work Mr. Alligator was nowhere to be found.  Eric waited and waited for Mr. Alligator to surface in the pond and returned diligently for many more days, but Mr. Alligator had run away from home.

For obvious reasons (like him wanting to bite your face off) Mr. Alligator hadn’t been microchipped.  And since there were likely more than a few laws bent in the capture and transport of Mr. Alligator, hanging up “Lost Alligator” signs up and down the road would’ve been rather ill-advised.  So Mr. Alligator just had to stay lost.

Eric thought of Mr. Alligator often, wondering where he had gone and what he was up to.  Eric especially thought of Mr. Alligator as he tried to rationalize the notion of a pet alligator to a potential employer in a polygraph exam.  Mr. Alligator almost cost Eric a job.

But as the years passed Eric’s family grew and he acquired a more mundane pet (a dog that his wife wouldn’t let him name “Dog”) and thoughts of Mr. Alligator became less and less frequent.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday Eric received a text from his dad that said an eight foot-eleven inch alligator had just been captured within a few hundred yards of where Eric had released Mr. Alligator twelve years earlier.

A little research revealed that alligators in the area typically grow 5-6″ per year (Mr. Alligator was about 3.5′ long when Eric released him), so twelve years of growth would put Mr. Alligator at right around 9′ long…..the size of the alligator that was captured just yesterday.

Alligators just aren’t terribly common where Eric released Mr. Alligator (thus the need to transport one to the pond, the pond didn’t already have one).  In fact, it’s unheard of to find an alligator right around there.  And a Texas Parks & Wildlife study indicates that alligators in the area may not travel far at all as they grow into maturity.

There’s no way of knowing if Mr. Alligator was the 8’11” beast captured yesterday, but Eric thinks it makes the story so much better to think that it was Mr. Alligator.

In fact, Eric is contemplating a trip to the alligator refuge where the beast was taken to demand that his runaway pet be returned to him.  He’s gonna need to invest in a kiddie pool for the backyard, but surely it won’t be too hard to find a 9′ Mr. Alligator if he happens to run away again.

The End

(If you happen to be a Game Warden reading this, it’s obviously a complete work of fiction.  Fiction that’s well passed the statute of limitations for whatever laws may have been fictionally broken.)