by Yvette Managan
"What is that awful smell?"
Mary Louise roused and became aware of sand in her mouth. She spit it out and considered jumping up, but that brown, unblinking eye kept her immobile. Her jaw clenched while she lay, staring, trying to understand just what she was seeing.
The eye was big. Really really big. And brown and close and unblinking and Mary Louise knew that if she moved whatever the eye was connected to would be on her fast. But what the hell was the thing? She tried to look at it without moving her head. The eye, surrounded by light green scaly wrinkles, appeared to be dead. It lay there, in an enormous head, growing cloudy. Mary Louise had seen that kind of frosted eye at the grocery store, in the fish display. That's what the eye looked like – a giant dead fish eye.
Mary Louise thought of the grocery store back home. Where I should be, not here, with sand in my mouth and a big eye staring at me. She stared back, and remembered.
When she'd accepted Bob's offer to “sail the Pacific,” Mary Louise had imagined balmy days on palm filled islands, gazing at turquoise seas while sipping umbrella drinks. She should have listened to the words because Bob always said exactly what he meant.
And he had kept to his word. They'd sailed non-stop, which meant that either he was on the tiller, or she was. The weather had been rough, and she swiftly became disillusioned.
She'd seen Palm islands in the distance, “And that's right where they will stay,” Bob said. “These are the Central Indonesian Islands. Do you even know what lives here? Real dragons! Their teeth are so sharp that they cut their gums when they eat. Their mouths are disgusting – so many germs that if their prey escapes, it dies from infection, if it lives through the death breath. And they eat people.”
He toyed with her. She knew it was his way of flirting, and his signal for romance but this was no romantic get away. No indeed. Mary Louise spent more time with her cheap novels than with Bob. Besides quick nuzzles between storms, Mary Louise hardly felt she'd seen her husband at all.
Yesterday, (was it only yesterday?) the sun had come out and the seas had gone dead flat. “The Doldrums” Bob called them.
“We're not going anywhere on sail. Might as well pull out the fishing poles, unless you feel like a swim, Mary Louise?”
“I could use a good fishing.” Mary Louse sighed. “I could use a good…something.”
“Hey, you see that little island over there?” Bob pointed to a small island over the bow. “That's where they found the bones of those little people. You know, the ones they called the Hobbits on Discovery Times Channel.”
“Can't, Honey. I told you why.”
Mary Louise turned towards her husband and pulled him close, kissing him hard. She slipped her tongue between his lips and lost herself in his mouth. Pulling apart for a moment, she said “I'd rather you fished in my pants.” And the boat turned over with the rogue wave.
The lizard's head – Mary recognized it now – was shaped like a large triangle. Its mouth was open, revealing bright red gums.
“This guy needs to see a periodontist”, Mary thought. “His gums are bleeding”.
The fetid smell that came from the giant lizards lips.
The blood-red gums.
The rogue wave off the coast of Flores.
“Christ, it's a Komodo Dragon!” she called out.
An opaque inner eyelid slowly slid over the deep brown iris, wetting it, as the predator turned towards his meal.
Yvette Managan is a writer who works by day maintaining the chemical integrity of the Banana River . At night, she acts as intermediary between the horses, hound-dogs and husband. She reads to remember, writes to forget and re-enacts the American War Between the States to teach others that war is never healthy.
Her work has been seen in Static Motion , Twisted Tongue , Lyrica , Oysters and Chocolate, The Linnet's Win gs, Killer Works, All Things Girl, and soon in Polluto.