A Cajun seeks revenge in a Louisiana Bayou.
Far from civilization in the Waukesha Bayou’s slow-moving water; a reptilian head, flagged by two protruding eyes, bobbed amongst the bulrushes and water lilies. As silently as the head appeared, it disappeared into the Louisiana bayou’s backwater.
Like its Cretaceous ancestors, the alligator is king of its domain in the reed infested swamps and marshes. And Elvis was the king of all alligators, measuring a staggering 20 feet. Elvis had ruled his watery maze for more than 60 years.
Elvis surfaced, flipped his massive tail and began to hunt his prey.
At sunrise, alligator hunter, Leon Brossard loaded his flat-bottomed boat with hooks, line and bait. Like all the days before, the stubborn Cajun was determined this would be the day he would catch the elusive Elvis. Leon had a score to settle, which coerced his resolute pursuit that he’d been chasing for a year.
With the last of his supplies laid up in the boat’s bottom, Leon yanked on the starting rope. The motor sputtered to life, spilling an oily fog across the water’s surface.
From the dock, Leon’s wife (Adele, a stubborn woman in her own way) called, “You be mindful, Leon. I’ll have supper waitin’.” She plodded up the wooden dock, turned and added, “You know that Elvis is a mean one.”
Leon grunted the way he always did, rubbed the stump where his left arm should have been and said, “Old woman, no one knows more than I what that gator is capable of doing to man or beast.” He grunted once more and had the last word, “Go ‘bout your business, Adele.”
Yessir…Leon had a grudge alright. A man carries around a heavy burden; with the knowledge that he let a gator take his arm in one crushing bite. The hunter wanted revenge even though he knew it was his own carelessness that now left him with one arm and a stump as a constant reminder.
Leon and his boat went deeper into the darkness of the cedars, the cattails and the haunting Waukesha.
Elvis lingered in the canes, waiting for his prey.
Leon wiped sweat from his brow, looked up through the hardwoods’ limbs and cursed the heat. Spanish moss; like flowered umbrellas covered the boughs, yet failed to block the mid-day sun, but it did create grey shadows to form on the murky water’s surface, hiding anything that might be lurking near by. But that is the swamp’s mystique…things aren’t always as true as they appear to be and the bayous have a way of keeping their secrets.
With the last of his sets baited, Leon leaned back in his boat and waited for his catch. The swamp was quiet; like a watery grave. The only sounds; like a well rehearsed symphony came from buzzing flies, chirping insects and an occasional bullfrog’s croak.
Leon rested his head on the boat’s gunwales, stretched his legs full out, pulled his straw hat’s brim down closer to his nose and listened to the familiar sounds. Lulled by the rhythm, by the boats gentle swaying and the swamp’s lullaby, Leon fell asleep.
As Leon dreamed, his nemesis hunted.
The supper Adele had prepared went uneaten. It was now cold, left sitting in a blackened pot on the wood-burning stove. Adele’s silent neighbors looked upon Leon’s supper with disgust and turned away; choosing instead, to stare out across the bayou.
After an unbearable amount of silence, Clovis Arsenault spoke.
“I’m sorry, Adele…we didn’t find Leon, but some of the boys are still lookin’.”
“Anything, Clovis…the boat, where’s Leon’s boat?” Adele sobbed.
“The boat’s gone, too, Adele.”
The cabin Leon had built 36 years ago with his own hands; about the time he and Adele had gotten married went silent once again. Everyone had the same thought, but kept the belief to themselves. Leon wouldn’t be found.
The bayous in Louisiana have a way of keeping their secrets. What happened to Leon will never be known, but the alligator king; named Elvis by the locals, still hunts in the Waukesha Bayou.