Alligators in the Sewers A Novel by Ken David Stewart
Russ Bridges was enjoying a long, restful nap on his new black leather couch. He was startled out of a deep sleep when he heard a loud pounding on his front door. Russ had just turned sixty-six was enjoying his first year of retirement as the former superintendent of sewers for the city of New York. It was 2:05 PM on June 11, 2020. He had been reading the novel It by Stephen King. It was not unusual for Russ to fall asleep on his couch while reading in the mid-afternoon. Stephen King was Russ’s favorite author and It was his favorite novel by the most popular horror writer of the century. This was usually how people defined Stephen King as a writer, but the author hated this limited, restrictive view of his writing.
As the pounding on his door became louder, Russ managed to lift his substantial bulk off the couch. When Russ opened his front door he saw Sean Webb, the new superintendent of sewers. Sean took over Russ’s position when he retired. Sean looked very anxious when Russ opened the door for him. “Can I smoke in your house, Russ? I’m all stressed out and I need to talk to you.”
“Sure. Come on in, Sean. Yeah, you can smoke in my house. I gave up smoking about ten years ago.
“Thanks for seeing me on such short notice or rather no notice should say,” Sean said as his trembling hand reached into the front pocket of his shirt for his pack of Marlborough Reds cigarettes.
“I have a serious problem at work and I really need your advice, Russ. Have you ever heard or seen anything to do with alligators in the New York sewer system?”
“Yeah, I know quite a bit about the problem, but I haven’t told anybody about it. Before I retired from your job, I had to sign a bunch of documents swearing me to secrecy concerning that topic,” Russ answered.
“Why don’t you find a place to park yourself in my living room, Sean?”
“Where did you find an orange easy chair, Russ?
“On eBay. It’s a rare color for an easy chair but don’t ask me how much I paid for it. Would you like some coffee to go with your cigarette?”
Russ reached over to his fireplace mantel and took a very weird looking ashtray from the top of it. The ashtray was a beige color shaped like an alligator. Russ placed it on the glass coffee table in front of Sean’s chair.
“You are starting to freak me out Russ. This ashtray looks a lot like a white albino alligator. This is like a foreboding symbol of why I’m here to meet with you,” Sean said.
“What do you like in your coffee?
“Some coffee creamer and Sugar Twin would be great if you have it.”
“You’re in luck. That’s exactly what I put in my coffee. My favorite flavor is hazelnut. What’s yours?”
Sean managed a nervous laugh. “What a coincidence. That’s my favorite too.”
“My wife gets on my back quite a bit about using Sugar Twin. Ruth’s a nurse and she never fails to tell me that artificial sweeteners cause cancer. I told her that I don’t worry about that because I want to die before she does. I’m being serious, too. I don’t know how I would manage without my wife.”
Russ hated the aging process. He didn’t like the fact that he could not do all the things that he was able to do at age forty. Russ had been somewhat of a high-energy freak of nature when he was younger. He was still trying to make a difficult adjustment to his new life as a senior citizen. This was not an easy transition for him. Since his retirement he had put on about twenty pounds that he did not need that were causing him to slow down in his daily life activities. Russ found that with each passing year he seemed to either reduce or had to eliminate one of the activities that he had enjoyed doing the year before. Life isn’t fair. A man of Russ’s intellect and drive could not understand or accept the inevitable fact that he was being forced to slow down in his senior years.
Russ wasn’t very happy with his life now that he was retired. It bothered him that he no longer knew how much time he had to live. His father had passed away at age forty-two after suffering a massive heart attack. This really shook Russ up, and he started thinking about his own longevity.
Russ had a lot of regrets even when he was in his prime. He had a poor self-image. He knew that he had excelled in his work for the city of New York, but felt that, in most areas of his life, he had been a failure.
Sean’s hand was still shaking as he took a long way drag from his Marlboro cigarette. “I’d sure like to hear any information you have, Russ. I feel like I’m going crazy. Sure, I heard some stories about alligators in our sewer system, but I thought it was just an urban legend. So did most of my coworkers until they started claiming they actually saw alligators while they were performing their sewer maintenance duties. At first, I didn’t believe them when a couple of my staff told me about their encounters with these reptiles. I just figured that seeing that I was their new supervisor they decided to tell me these stories as a sort of an initiation prank.”
Joshua Jacobson could best be summed up as being a nerd. He was seventeen years old and attended Manhattan Central High School. Joshua’s level of intelligence would be close to the genius level. He excelled in all his grade twelve subjects, but he liked his math and science classes the most. Joshua was an intellectual in every sense of the word. Although his great desire was to be a famous scientist one day, he was also a voracious reader with interests in a wide variety of subjects.
Joshua read nearly everything he could get his hands on. Although his parents were on the lower strata of the annual income spectrum, and neither one had earned a high school diploma, they were very aware and were very proud of Josh’s intellectual accomplishments. From an early age they had a sense that God had given their son and amazing brain for a reason. Although Josh’s parents were poor, they used what little extra money they had to further Josh’s ambitions. As Josh enjoyed reading and conducting research so much, his parents paid for his monthly subscriptions to Audible Audiobooks, so that their son could choose a new audiobook to listen to each month. They also invested in a subscription to Scribd, a website service that allows its subscribers to read an unlimited number of books on a wide variety of topics. Science fiction books had always been Josh’s favorites.
Attending high school was at times pure hell for Josh. Senior years schools have long been known for bullying students that did not fit the predetermined criteria of what was considered normal. The social aspect of high school was based on cliques. Every high school student ended up in a clique that was defined by possessing certain, identifiable physical and mental attributes.
There was some overlap, but generally all high school students received a mandatory designation that they were in some group or clique. There was sometimes some overlap, but rarely was a student integrated into more than one or two defining groups.
The first category was known as the brains. This entity consisted of all kinds of all the students that were known for getting the highest marks in all subjects on the secondary education curriculum. The brains were usually not very popular with the rest of the student body. These academic high achievers were either disdained, ignored or were used by their peers. The brains could be helpful to their less academically gifted counterparts in certain situations. Brains came in handy when one needed to cheat on a test or exam or copy yesterday’s homework assignments. The trade-off or you can say. the upside for the brains was that some of their fellow students who required their services offered the brains protection from other students who would bully them, steal from them or threaten to beat them up.
The second clique was known as the jocks. This group consisted of all the star athletes in the school. A third group was labelled as the stoners. This group of students were known for regularly ingesting a wide variety of both prescription and illegal drugs. The brains and the jocks rarely had anything to do with the stoners. Stoners were not known for doing well in their academic studies because they were, as their name implied, usually flying high on some psychoactive substance that would interfere with their cerebral ability to concentrate on their schoolwork.
There was a subgroup of students within the stoners who were talented musicians. The ones that played in a band were generally held in high regard by almost all the student body. The jocks envied the artistic talents of the musically gifted stoners and were very pissed off by the fact that student musicians who played in local bands often had more groupies than the jocks. The jocks could never conceive how these scrawny, dope smoking rockers didn’t need to have any respectable physique to attract females. The jocks never grasped the concept that these musically gifted stoners needed to practice their guitar licks just as long and hard as the football team had to practice their passing, blocking and running drills.
The last high school clique were the most unfortunate ones. This group was cruelly referred to as the nerds. The nerds presented in all shapes and sizes, but their most prominent distinction was that they all presented as being weird in some way or another. Some were morbidly obese, some were tall and lanky and had faces that were crated like the surface of the moon with acne. Many of them offended their peers and teachers because of their strong repulsive body odor.
The nerds were mostly shunned by the vast majority of the student body and faculty. On rare occasions, a student that was considered normal would attempt to befriend them or at the very least try to strike up a conversation with them. Those few nerds that received these acts of kindness were often forever grateful for even the slightest sign of attention and acceptance. The few students who displayed this kind of compassion often found that the result would be that the few grateful nerds would cling to them and wouldn’t leave them alone for at least a semester.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Mark Kennedy woke up to the sound of his parents having an animated conversation about Donald Trump. Mark’s father, Michael Kennedy was a die- hard supporter of the controversial Republican candidate. He was an obese, but physically strong construction worker. He had been the shop steward for his union local for a long time, but over the past two years he had become disheartened with the lack of power of his local union to improve the wages and working conditions of his fellow construction workers. At the last local union meeting that he attended, the workers national representative was pushing hard to encourage the union’s local membership to vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. Not all workers, including Mark Kennedy were impressed with Hillary. Several members had taken notice of the recent campaign speeches by Donald Trump and were beginning to think of him as the politician most likely to aid their cause.
His wife, Laura Kennedy was a strong woman. Some may even have described her as being a fierce woman. Laura hated Donald Trump’s guts and her perception of how the Republican presidential candidate mistreated women. As Mark was in the process of greeting the morning, he overheard the heated political discussion going on between his parents.
Mark could care less about politics, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. He needed to call his friends right after breakfast as Mark wanted to invite his buddies out for a game of touch football. Mark was a big fan of the Oakland Raiders and his favorite player was the Raiders quarterback, Derek Carr. Mark usually played quarterback during Saturday’s traditional touch football game. When he was making a long pass mark Mark would imagine that he was the real Derek Carr in the process of leading his team to a fourth-quarter comeback.
Mark joined his family for a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.
“So, what are you going to do today?” his father asked.
“After breakfast I’m going to call up some of my friends to organize a touch football game,” Mark answered.
“Are you going to play quarterback this week?” Michael Kennedy asked.
“That’s my plan,” Mark replied.
“Can you throw passes like Brett Favre?” his father asked.
“No. Brett Favre is retired. I want to play like Derek Carr,” Mark answered.
“That’s okay. That Raider kid is pretty good. I’ve got admit,” Mark’s dad responded.
After he helped his mother do the dishes Mark went to his room and started making the necessary phone calls.
After his father gave Mark a ride to the local school grounds that included a football field complete with two sets of both goal posts at each end zone. After he got out of the car Mark saw to his two best friends, Curly and Red throwing a football around.
Both Curly and Red came by their nicknames honestly. Curly was obese but his long thick brown curly hair was his most prominent feature. Red was a tall, skinny kid who suffered from a serious case of acne. He was glad that his nickname, Red, a description of his mullet styled, shoulder length, fiery red hair. Red’s family ancestry was Irish. When he got old enough to grow a beard it was almost certainly going to be a flaming red color that would complement the hair on his head.
Within the next ten minutes, nine other boys arrived. These kids were all grade six students at Birchwood Elementary. Once the members of the two teams were selected, Mark’s team won the coin toss and elected to be the receiving team for the first half of the game. Mark was unanimously chosen to be the starting quarterback for his squad.
The first play that Mark called in the huddle was a down and out pass pattern to the right. Red was lined up as a tight end on the right side of the line of scrimmage.
It had rained heavily the night before and the field was still damp and slippery. As Mark backpedalled and tried to get himself into a comfortable throwing stance, he slipped on the wet grass just as he let go of the football. He was attempting to pass to his intended receiver, Red.
The football floated high over Red’s head and landed somewhere in a bushy area to the right of the football field. Red volunteered to search for the football in the brush. He was starting to get all scratched up from the thorn bushes that were prevalent in the bushy outskirts on the right side of the football field. A few feet away Red could see the overthrown football. It was neatly enmeshed in the grasp of a thick, thorny bush.
As Red took a few steps in the direction of the object of the search, he also spotted what appeared to be part of an animal’s leg protruding from the thicket. The part of the leg that was visible was pearly white in color, approximately a foot-long and looked bumpy and scaly. This sight of this frightening apparition almost instantly froze the blood in Red’s veins. He was unable to move even though he desperately wanted to run away as far as possible from the object that was causing him this terror was burning inside him.
After a few minutes, he heard Mark calling for him.
“Red, are you okay in there? Did you find the football?”
There wasn’t any response to Mark’s questions. Curly came up behind Mark.
“Ah, Red’s probably just taking a leak in the bushes,” Curly said.
“No. I don’t think so,” Mark responded. “Red’s been in there too long and it’s getting me worried. I’m going in. Are you coming with me, Curly?”
“Why not? Red’s probably just hasn’t found the football yet,” he answered.
A few other boys overheard Curly and Mark talking and offered their assistance to find out what was going on with Red. As soon as the boys pushed through the thorn bushes, they were stopped in their tracks. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They saw Red crying as he fell to his knees. He yelled out, “Help!”
out to Episode Five
Joel Jenkins was not having a very good day. The morning started off badly when Joel first opened his eyes. The first thing that he saw was that his alarm clock radio read 7:50 AM. Joel was supposed to start his new job at 7:00 AM. Arriving late on his first day on the job was not going to make a good impression on Joel’s new employer. Joel was very fortunate to have been hired for this job. Ian, his sponsor in NA got him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Sam Bradley was also being sponsored by Ian. This was not an opportunity the Joel didn’t wanted to lose.
Joel was given the alarm clock by Ian as a gift when his sponsor informed him that he was able to get him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Joel thought that he had set the alarm clock correctly the night before. Obviously, he had not. The alarm clock was a newer, state-of-the-art timekeeper that included all the latest bells and whistles. He could even set it to wake him up to the sound of his favourite CD. The problem was that Joel had a difficult time with modern technology, mostly because he didn’t own any modern technology. At present, Joel didn’t even own a PC, a laptop, a cell phone or even a tablet. For the last three years Joel had spent all his money on drugs. He’d been clean for almost six months but couldn’t apply for work until he had completed both his detox and rehabilitation programs. He was fired from his last job when his substance abuse severely affected his job performance and on numerous occasions his ability to show up for work at all.
Joel had to come up with a damage control plan fast. Ian had given Joel, Sam’s cell phone number. Joel called Sam right away to let him know what was up. He let Sam know that he was going to be late and was calling a taxi to take him to work. Sam told Joel that he was presently driving a truck in downtown Manhattan and due to the heavy traffic would probably be stuck in that location for likely up to half an hour. Sam told Joel to have the cab drop him off near the First National Bank.
Sam Bradley was a bit of an entrepreneur. He got into the salvage business after his brother-in-law agreed to let him have his old Ford pickup truck if Sam agreed to pay him $200 as soon as he made some money in his new enterprise.
Sam had a very checkered job history with a backlog of bad references from past employers. This being the case, Sam felt he had no choice but to become self-employed entrepreneur.
Sam Bradley was a very creative man. He was an artist with a broad range of interests. He loved the arts and had taken a stab at most forms of artistic expression including outdoor photography, sculpture and pottery. He found out that he was not particularly talented in all his artistic pursuits, but Sam had the attitude the one didn’t know if they had an aptitude for something unless they had given it an honest concerted effort.
Through his efforts Sam discovered that he was more than skillful in the areas of writing and music. He became skilled enough on guitar to play in a local band called Rocky Raccoon. That’s where his problem with addictions began.
Sam had been burning the candle at both ends. His ambition to write novels was almost equal to his desire to become a great lead guitarist. To date, he had self published two science fiction novels. He used the Amazon platform to sell his books and was enjoying moderately good sales. Unfortunately, he required other sources of revenue to pay his bills. He acquired a part-time job teaching creative writing one night a week at a local community college. The rest of his income came from his