Yep, that’s a picture of a Florida Gator. He doesn’t look so fierce with about twelve feet of duct tape on him. But…
Many of you know I have a ghost for a muse. Fred is a friendly guy with a sense of humor. He likes to play practical jokes, funny but not harmful. For example, he turned on our electric fireplace several times in the summer when the weather was around eighty degrees. Fred gets chilly easily. He resides with us in our 1874 cottage on the Butternut Creek in upstate New York. I don’t mind having him around. Because he seems to see the funny side of life (from his side of the great divide), I feel inspired to write my humorous cozies. We have an amicable relationship.
We spend our winters in rural Florida, close up the house completely, no heat, no water. I’m not certain where Fred goes, but he doesn’t do the trip south with us. There’s a cemetery across the creek from our cottage, so he may go there in the winters to visit relatives and friends. That seems like a cold place for a guy who likes it really warm, but he’s never complained. Maybe he takes up residence with my next door neighbor who just installed a pellet stove, nice and cozy for a chilly ghost.
Down in Florida cow country, I felt the need for a muse. Since there are so many alligators here, I thought the one in our small canal might want to be the inspiration for a mystery writer. I never asked it, but it certainly seemed to inspire my writing. As one of my friends put it, “She sure does write a lot about alligators.” Well, yes I do. I set two of my cozy mysteries down here, so alligators figure large in the tales. Why not an alligator as my muse for these adventures.?
Several years ago it appeared there were two alligators in our canal, one larger than the other. They coasted by our house morning and evening and for a time, all was well. Then one morning I awoke to the two of them in battle. It took eight long hours for the large one to defeat the smaller one. It was unpleasant to watch and horrible to hear the moans of the smaller animal. I began to rethink the alligator muse thing.
This year, there were again two or three alligators cruising the canal. Most of us ignored them, but the largest gator liked to sit just off shore and eye our evening drinks and appetizers. Or maybe it was eyeing us as the appetizer.
Several days ago I heard my neighbor yell, and I told my husband, “I think the alligator is after her dog.” Sure enough, the bad boy came on shore and headed toward her and the dog, who were playing in the grass. We reported the bum the next morning to the authorities who sent out a gator hunter with the necessary license to capture it. He arrived with a fishing rod, a rope with several treble hooks (barbs removed) and a boom box. Huh? He was going to play music to the beast? Not music, but the sound of baby alligators in distress. The beast would come swimming in. If a male, he was looking for dinner, the nasty cannibal, if female, she was looking to see who was bothering the babies.
I didn’t see the capture, but my husband said it took only moments. The guy played the alligator music, the alligator swam in, the hunter threw his fishing line and hooked him, pulled him in, tossed the treble hook to snag his legs, then got him on the grass, subdued him, duct taped his mouth and hog-tied his legs. Duct tape is great for anything.
This alligator was lucky, onlyh five feet long, so he was a small enough size that the hunter was taking him off to a breeder. Yes, they raise them on farms. That’s where your blackened alligator bites come from.
Given the nature of these animals, I’ve reconsidered using them as my muse. If I wrote thrillers or darker, more serious mysteries, or vampire stuff (vampire alligators, there’s a thought), I might keep them on for inspiration. But I write funny stuff. I’ll still have alligators in my writing, but I’ve fired my muse. If I need inspiration I’ll buy Fred an airline ticket down here. Or perhaps you can think of a better rural Florida muse in case Fred’s afraid of flying?
Coming in April: Camel Press will offer three Eve Appel short stories on Amazon.