Once upon a time an Alligator was snoozing on a hummock next to Thick Mucky Pond in the Okefenokee. A heron flew overhead, carrying a fifteen pound catfish in its beak. Just as the heron passed directly over the alligator it sneezed, causing it to drop the catfish onto the alligator’s head. Not being a particularly delicate creature, the alligator simply shook the fish off it’s snout. With an extra toss of its head it threw the fish into the air and caught it in its teeth, broke it in half and swallowed it in two gulps.
The alligator had been sleeping on a crossroads of two paths. He hadn’t noticed the path when he’d lain down, and while he was asleep all the creatures who used the path had tiptoed around him. But now that he was awake the constant procession of path users, the rodents, lizards and other small swamp-dwellers, while they provided a kind of self-replenishing midnight snack, also continually interrupted his trying to return to sleep. Presently, the alligator gave up and slipped into the water of Thick Murky Pond.
The alligator was free of incessantly scampering animals. But in the open water, schools of fish swam behind him, beside him, past him, blindly running into him from his tail to his snout. If he kept moving, his huge, muscular tail never stopped waving, and the fish at his snout continued to provide noourishing snacks, but the almost continulus impacts … you know…
He swam until he found himself in a thicket of lilies. Shielded from the fish. the hail of collisions ceased. The alligator could at last sink to the bottom and snooze in the ooze on the floor of Thick Murky Pond.
Sometime later, the alligator awoke and swam out of the lilies. His sleep had refreshed him, but now he needed some air. Presently he came to a sawgrass hummock. He was about to climb out of the water when the crashing of feet made him stop and take stock. Unless the animals on shore were elephants, he knew he could more than take care of himself. However, he wanted something a bit more substantial. He floated in the reeds and listened.
“Psst! Psssssssttt! Hey! Alligator! Do me a solid, yo!”
“Get me out of here! They’re almost on me!” There was a space in the sawgrass just above the bank. Into it stepped Raccoon. “I’m not kidding, Alligator.”
“What are you doing, Raccoon? You want me – to take – you – across the water? You know what you’re asking for?”
“A ride out of here. A high-speed ride! They’re gonna get meee!!”
“Look, Raccoon, I’m pretty full right now, so I’ve got the patience to discuss this. But if you’re actually in reach, I can’t guarantee … anything. You’l never make it to the other side alive. I’m telling you.”
“I’ll take my chances with you. You’re straight. You know me. You’ll do the right thing by me, I know it.”
The alligator mumbled to himself, but then he said. “All right. Come on.” Raccoon carefully slid down the bank and stepped onto Alligator’s back and walked up until he stood right atop Alligator’s big flat head.
Halfway across the Pond, Alligator dipped his snout, causing Raccoon to lose his balance and tumble forward. When the mammal fell past his eyes, Alligator flipped him straight up into the air and caught him in his jaws. A single crunch was all it took.
“I couldn’t help it, man,” the Gator said, mumbling to himself again. “It’s just … it’s my nature, man. It’s what I do.”
MORAL: Never expect rules to deviate all by themselves.