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Fiction #356
(published November 15, 2007)
And Then He Ate Her
by Jason Polan
You can see the shadow of my head in the bottom right corner of the photo there. I didn't take the picture though, Steve did. I was just watching and getting nervous from the other side of the fence.

Madeline was tentative at first.

"Get in there?" was her initial response. "Yea, its fine, he doesn't look like he's going anywhere. They feed those things well. Get in there." Steve again told her.

There were no guards around and it didn't look like too much trouble to climb right in with the three alligators. The one in the photograph was the biggest one. The other two appeared to be asleep on the other side of the pool.

Madeline climbed over the fence. I looked at her long dress as she did it. It was dark and I could see the line of her underwear as she lifted herself over. I immediately looked away. I opened the reptile farm map and read about the other animals I wanted to see after the alligators. They had large tortoises and they had water snakes.

Madeline walked along the inside of the fence. The alligator just laid there as she crossed five feet in front of his head. As she crouched down on the other side Steve told her to get closer. She didn't want to but did anyway.

I tentatively said that maybe she shouldn't be in there to Steve and he shrugged. I should have punched him or something to get his attention. I didn't think anyone should go in there, especially Madeline. I kind of liked her. She met Steve only months before the photograph was taken. I introduced the two of them at a skating rink. Madeline and I worked together for a little bit after high school and then kept in touch after her family moved. Steve and I met in high school. I never really liked him and was only introducing them to be polite, but Steve really liked Madeline and asked her out there at that skating rink. I had always wanted to ask her out but never did. It took him about twenty minutes to do it and she said "OK." She didn't seem to give it very much thought. They have been dating ever since.

The alligator slowly opened its mouth as Steve lifted his camera to his face. He then pulled the camera down. I wanted him to take the picture already so she could get out of there. Steve told Madeline to take off her sunglasses. She took them off and Steve took the picture. As she pulled her right arm up to her face to put the glasses back on I saw the alligator slowly rotate its head to his left, then latch onto her arm. He did it instantly. He grabbed her arm and as she fell toward him he released her for just a moment and then grabbed her just below her chin. He tried to pull her left shoulder down his throat. She made a high pitch coughing noise. There was a moment where Steve and I just looked. Then I jumped over the fence and sort of stomped on the back of the alligator's head. It was right on the edge of the cement pool and I slid as I kicked at him. He released Madeline and swam to the other side of the pool. I tried to lift her up but she was really bloody. I put my hand to her bleeding neck. I felt her clavicle under my palm. I looked at Steve, who was still standing there with his camera in his right hand. He started yelling. The person who took our money at the entrance ran over and then left to call an ambulance.

Madeline opened her eyes and looked confused. I had my knees under her back to prop her up. She closed her eyes as another employee ran over. She shoved the three alligators into an indoor feeding area behind a screen. She used a big metal stick. Blood ran under my hand down Madeline's neck onto the white shirt that was under the plaid coat. I could feel her pulse in my hand. I could also feel her breathing as I heard the siren of the ambulance getting louder as it approached the reptile farm.

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