Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Crock


They closed the cover above me
As they said, not wanting whatever
It was to get out and scare the
Children.  I initially laughed which
Provoked them to challenge
Me to take on the task since I
Thought it a small thing. 

I gathered my Smith and Wesson,
Hollow points of lead not wanting
Anything of steel to ricochet down
There; took two small flash-
Lights with extra batteries not
Knowing how long I’d be down
And there was no other light where

I’d be going.  I took a  knapsack
With water, food, some first-aid
Gear, a length of rope in case it
Was something I wanted to drag
Back up to show it a small thing
After all.  I took a Becker BK9
Knife, long enough to delve into

Darkness without risking my hand
It wasn’t until I was well along I
Realized this should have been a
Two-man job.  No matter.  It was
Certainly a dog or someone’s cat
Cast away while the owner was
Drunk or sick and living off the

Sewage running beneath our feet.
I stopped from time to time to let
The echoes die away, hearing more
Clearly the sewage gurgle along,
An occasional surge in a pipe
Behind the concrete walls and
Sometimes the whisper of something

Small scurrying by.  My cell phone
Rang but I couldn’t hear a voice, no
Surprise there.  After an hour or two
I saw a light and someone coming.  He
Saw me and stopped.  “Who are
You he yelled?”  “Police,” I yelled
Back.  “Looking for a monster” I added.

“Hah, me too.  Police not the monster he
Laughed, “name’s Jack.  How far have you
Come,” he asked?  “Two hours down the
Main shaft.”  He said he’d been nearly the
Same.  “It must be in one of the off-shoots or
Spurs, whatever they’re called.”  “My
“Thought as well, but we might get

Lost veering into one.  Who knows
Their condition – could be other things
As bad as whatever this is.”  “A
Crocodile, is what I heard” Jack said.
A pet that got too large and is now too
Large down here as well.”  “Maybe,”
I agreed and touched the butt of my gun.

He shined his light there “better than
Mine and shined it on his nine.  “Want
To split up,” I asked?  “Not really,”
He replied; so we entered the next
Spur we came to.  My compass said
We’d be heading North by North West.
There was a larger volume of refuse

Flowing.  “Wait,” Jack said.  “What?”
“I heard something – Oh no!”  His
Light picked it up coming toward us
In a rush.  I pulled my gun but Jack
Was in my way.  He sprayed the
Tunnel with his Nine.  The monster
Stopped but when Jack paused to

Reload he rushed us again, slashing
Past in a mad whirl of flashlights   
And the sound of my Smith.  Jack
Groaned.  “Did he get you,” I asked
Rushing back?  “My leg” he moaned.
I saw the torn trousers and a gash
Oozing blood.  After not hearing

The crock and hoping it was gone
I took off my knapsack and got the
First-aid gear, dousing the wound
With Iodine I wrapped several layers
Of gauze around his leg and taped it
In place, stopping every moment to shine
My light in the direction the crock had gone.

“I can’t leave you here.  Can you walk?”
“I’d better.  My Nine didn’t even make
It mad.”  “I got in a couple of shots
With my 357 but I may have missed.”
“Maybe I did too,” he said.  “Though
I wouldn’t admit that up above.”  We
Laughed.  I got him up and helped

Him back the way we’d come.  We
Heard a whooping sound and stopped.
I took out the Smith and Jack his Nine.
We shined our lights up and back. 
“Don’t see it,” he said, “you?”  “Me
Neither.  If we knew where it was we
Could go the other way.  You pick,”

I said, “since it’s your leg.”  “Let’s go
Back toward my precinct, the way I
Came.  I know all our ER people
Pretty well.”  “Ah, accident prone are
You,” I said and he laughed?  “So they
Say.” We struggled on, much further
Than we expected, then we heard

A huffing up ahead.  “Whoops,” Jack
Said.  “We should have gone your way.”
“Stop here,” I said and leaned him
Against the wall.  With my Smith and
Wesson out front I inched slowly
Ahead until I saw what seemed a bulge
On the sewer floor.  It turned swiveling
Itself toward me.  I fired all six rounds
Wishing I had chosen steel instead of
Lead, not sure my hollow-points had
Penetrated its hide.  He whirled about
I jumped back barely in time and he
Raced away.  “You okay,” Jack called,
Worry in his words?  “Yeah, but I think

He is too.  I hate to go on in his direction
But the ladder must be close.   We
Struggled on until we found it.  I
Climbed up, lifted the lid and found
We were in a street I didn’t know.
A gang of surly youths turned to
Stare.   “Hey there Five O,

What’s the Po-leese doing down
There?”  “I’ve got a wounded man
Down here.  How about a little
Help?”  One of them pulled a gun.
“I’ll help you right back down the
Way you came.”  “There’s a crocodile
Down here,” I pleaded.  “Got to be a

Crock, but it’s all yours.  Up here is
Ours.”  I climbed back down.  Jack
Had been listening.  “The Bastion
Street Gang, I’d bet, best not push it.”
He uttered a big sigh and said, “I’m
Game to try the other way if you are.”
“Okay,” I said slowly. We drank

Some water, caught our breath and
Headed back the way we’d come.
Protocol had our precincts send us
Help.  From my direction we saw
Them after an hour.  From Jack’s
Direction we heard later on they
Had all been lost, some killed

By the gator, some by friendly fire,
Five in all.  Jack’s precinct arrested
The Bastions, hauled them all down
Town but nothing stuck.  One night
A week later someone took their cover
Away and pushed a long heavy plank
Down to the sewer floor.  The crock

Came out and killed ten Bastions.
They tried to fight him, but he
Was too big.  They ran off and
Called the police.   They were told
“Call animal control.”  They say
Now its in the warehouse district living
On gangbangers and drug addicts.  “So

Are the sewers safe,” we wondered?
“Maybe,” the experts say, but maybe
There are more of them down there
Growing larger by the year.  We throw
So much away.  A gator can live a long
Time on what we scatter.  Besides, as
The Bastions told us, out there is theirs.”

Over beer one night I asked Jack if they gave
Up looking for whoever put the plank down the
Bastion manhole.  “Pretty much,” he said.
The Bastions wouldn’t let them do a thorough
Check.”  “Too bad,” I said with a laugh. 
“Ever get those splinters out of your hands?”
“Just about,” Jack said. “ You?”

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