Did I ever mention that I had to fight off alligators in the Everglades?
That’s because it never happened.
But it could have.
The (almost) Adventure through the Everglades
While living in Florida, I worked in shipping & receiving at my local K-Mart. My hours were from 6 am to 2:30 pm, pretty sweet hours I might add.
I knew most of the employees. Whether they worked the day shift or the night shift, I knew everybody by their first name. That is, however, with the exception of the overnight stockers. I hardly knew them at all; hardly anybody knew them. The only person who ever talked to them for more than ten minutes was the lady who hired them and she retired three months prior.
There were four of them all together, three full-timers and one part-timer. All in their young twenties, and they all lived together in a four bedroom house. There wasn’t a particular attire they had to wear while they stocked the shelves of K-Mart, unlike the rest of us “day-time employees, but cargo shorts and a white, undershirt tank-top was mainly what they wore – and faithfully.
I got to K-Mart at about 5:30 a.m. every morning when I worked. The night-stockers worked from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next day. So, I would only see these guys for about an hour before they punched out and headed for home. We would just talk briefly about the small things, like the Tampa Bay Devil Ray’s or how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed their team colors which was going to take some getting use to…(but, really? Did you see their uniforms before?)
Anyway, I didn’t know a lot about these guys, but I assumed their lifestyle would be like any other single, male, twenty “something” year-old would be.
You know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the ones who are drinking all night – every night, have an untidy household, their personal hygiene could do a bit of an improvement, &c. All that good stuff.
I would soon be shown the error of my ways.
But please, read on.
It wasn’t until about six months later when we finally got comfortable with each other. They even invited me to a party at their house that they were throwing. I agreed to go and eventually found out that day that I was the only employee that got invited.
I made arrangements with my girlfriend (my future wife – who I was living with at the time) to drop me off. That way, I wasn’t drinking and driving, plus I told her that I didn’t plan on staying that long.
Well, I didn’t drink and drive, but I did stay longer than I wanted to. It totally wasn’t my fault.
The Good Bye
The directions they gave me was in a neighborhood I was very unfamiliar with. We’ve been in Florida for nearly three years and we’ve never been on this side of town. These houses were beautiful and some were enormous with a huge gate surrounding the property. I was a little curious on what their house was going to look like. The way it was looking, it was going to be the exact opposite of what I thought the house was going to look like.
We pulled down their street and wouldn’t you know it…there was a man-made channel right across the street where boats were able to go up and down. And I don’t mean just little speed boats either. There were house boats, yachts and huge sail boats as well.
We found the address and just looked at each other.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked.
The house was gorgeous. I mean, the yard could have used a landscaper but it was still pretty nice. It didn’t have a gate surrounding it, instead, it was well secluded with all the palm trees and other exotic plant life keeping it hidden. We slowly pulled in the half-circle driveway and stopped right where there were two good-sized gargoyles on either side of the front door. I rolled up the window, leaned over and gave my girlfriend a kiss and exited out of the car. Right before I closed the car door, I heard her say out loud, “Be careful!”
Why does she always say that?
I watched my wife drive back around and pull away. She had her arm out the window and was waving to me. I waved back. When she was out of view, I rang the doorbell. Eric answered the door.
Eric was one of the guys that worked the night shift stocking shelves. Out of the three, he was the quiet one. He wore a tank top, cargo shorts and instead of work boots he had on sandals. This was the typical attire to some male “Floridians” his age wore. He looked more casual than me (with my t-shirt and blue jeans, the typical attire guys my age wore back in “da region”). He walked me in to introduce me to the rest of the crowd.
As we stepped into the kitchen I saw a small crowd gathered around a table in the center of the room. There was a tequila bottle, a few salt shakers and bowl full of sliced limes. Eric threw out a few names and they all said “What’s up?”
Another night shift employee walked in. It was Dave. He was the loud one.
“Jimmy!” Dave shouted my name when he noticed me standing in the back. I acknowledge him by raising the beer bottle that was placed in my hand just five minutes earlier.
“What’s going on?” I shouted back above the crowd. Of course I was asking a rhetorical question, but I guess he took it seriously. He made his way towards me by cutting through everybody. He held his beer bottle and cigarette in the air so to not spill or burn anyone, but there was still a certain drunken rudeness about it. He bumped into a girl who then responded by calling him a ‘fucker‘. Dave stopped and just looked at her.
“Maybe later,” he responded trying to look at her seductively, but in all actuality it looked kinda funny.
“You’re fucking weird,” the girl said with a smile and walked away. Dave then looked at me with his glassy red eyes and just shrugged his shoulders.
Dave had brown hair that had a reddish tint to it and had a beard & mustache to match. He wore shirts that looked like they came from the ’50′s but he was able to pull off somehow.
“You want some of this?” Dave pointed to the bottle of tequila as he stumbled forward his last few steps.
I caught and held on to him until he got his bearings. “No, no. Thanks, but I can’t stay long.”
Dave went on to say something, I wasn’t really paying attention because I noticed they were doing it all wrong. People were taking a shot of tequila, sucking on a lime then shaking salt in their mouth.
Stupid kids. What the hell?
I got to fix this.
So I spoke up interrupting Dave, “Hold on, hold on. You guys are doing it wrong. You have to set up before you take the shot.”
“What are you talking about, dude?” the stoner-dude said softly.
“Show us!” giggled a tipsy, high-strung, teeny-bopper.
I licked the lower part of my thumb, shook a little salt on it and showed everyone how the salt stuck to the skin. I grabbed a lime wedge and a shot glass of tequila. I explained the proper procedure and then demonstrated.
That’s when things started to go wrong.
[There's more to this story, but let's move on]
Three hours later I broke out a window and climbed out of it
I don’t remember much. But what I do remember is wanting to leave this party with the quickness, and I did so by breaking out a window with a small stool and climbing out.
People were chasing me.
The next thing I remember was waking up looking at the night sky. I saw three palm trees and the moon. There was tall grass all around me and the ground was wet. It felt as though I was laying in a puddle.
Yes, I was definitely laying in a puddle.
Then I started to focus. I started to remember…things were coming together. I just laid there and tried to gather my thoughts.
That’s when it hit me.
I thought to myself, “Oh my God. I must be in the Everglades. They caught me, knocked me out and threw my body in the Everglades. They wanted me dead, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it, so they threw me out here. They wanted the alligators to do their dirty work. Plus, the alligators will get rid of the evidence. They wanted my body to get eaten by alligators. Those motherfuckers!”
I was about to get up when I realized I had my pants in my hand.
Yes. That’s right.
My pants were in my hand.
“What the…?” I said aloud, but before I could give it much thought, I heard a bunch of dogs barking.
I laid still. I thought, “Could those be wild, feral dogs? Scavenger dogs? Eating scraps that alligators leave behind?
I decided that I’d better keep low and stay quiet. If these feral dogs find me – they will kill me. The dogs kept on barking on viciously while I laid in the muck trying to think of a plan.
The first thing that came to my head was that if these assholes were going to ditch my body, it wouldn’t be that far from the road.
I need to find a road.
I sat up but made sure I stayed below the grass line. I looked at my pants and found them sopping wet. They were covered with mud and tiny little sticks. I still had my socks and boots on which struck me a little odd because that meant I (or someone) put my boots back on after my pants were removed. I decided that I’d keep my pants off and just wear my red striped boxers…at least for a little while until I found the road or until my pants dried. It was a fairly warm morning so I wasn’t worried of “catching cold. Plus, I’m in the fucking Everglades, I don’t care who sees me.
If I don’t find a road, that means I’m definitely going to be out here in the swamp for at least another day. I started to think about survival.
I’m eventually going to have to build a shelter. I’m going to need a weapon (there’s more than alligators out here in the Everglades). And of course, I’m going to need food.
I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m hungover and this was crazy.
The barking ceased, so I thought it’d be a good time to take a peek for any signs of a road. I figured I’d pop my head up and take a look and then crawl through the high grass in the right direction. I just hoped I wouldn’t crawl and find an alligator.
I got to my hands and knees and prepared to raise my head. I quickly gave a look and saw a car parked on a street. I went back down.
“What?” I said to myself. I raised my head again and stayed there like that. “What the..?”
I was in the front yard of a neighbor (I think). The house had huge columns that held up the roof of this three-story home. I quickly got up and headed for the street. Security lights came on when I stepped out of the flower bed pants-less. I guess I got to close to the car because I also triggered its security system. It acknowledge my presence and verbally told me to step away.
I had no idea where I was at, but I knew I couldn’t stay there.
I stood in the middle of the street next to the channel. I had two choices, I could head in the direction where those guys lived, or start walking in the direction where I came from. Then I looked at my pants that I was holding. Why were my pants off?
Oh my God.
Did I get raped?
The sun was rising and I had to get out of there. I panicked thinking that the police were going to get called, so I ran.
The Journey Home
I ran down the sidewalk. I had no idea where I was going. Then I noticed a red neon light shining in the far distance. I’m going to go there.
It was a car dealership. I spotted a payphone and called my girlfriend collect. She accepted the charges.
“Where are you?” was the first thing she asked. By the sound of her voice, I could tell that she was worried.
“I don’t know. I’m at a car dealership”
“A car dealership? Which one?”
From the background in the phone I heard a voice say, “I know where that’s at, I’ll get him.”
“Darlene’s going to come get you, stay where you are,” my girlfriend instructed me.
“Stay on the phone with him until I pick him up,” the voice from the background said.
“Is that Darlene?” I asked. Darlene was a girl that worked with us at K-Mart. She heard about the party and what happened.
“Yes. Oh my God, what happened?”
“I have no clue.”
“Darlene talked to Dave and said that you broke out a window. Is that true?”
“Why? Why did you break his window and crawl out of it?”
“I don’t know.” I reached behind and made sure nothing was hanging out of my ass. My butt-hole felt alright, it wasn’t sore or anything.
I stood on the phone with her until Darlene pulled up a few minutes later. She brought along a friend. She was another girl that worked with us at K-Mart.
“She’s here, I’ll see you in a bit,” I said. I hung up the phone and got into the backseat of the car.
“Wow. You okay?” Darlene asked while looking at me through her rear-view mirror.
“Yeah, I think.”
“I heard what happened.”
I laid my head back and closed my eyes and said, “You can tell me all about it sometime.”