The slithering, grey shadow grew larger and darker as it swam toward me and the last thing I saw before I died, with my cry for help drowning in my throat, were two rows of razor sharp teeth and the sweet face of my little girl in my mind’s eye.
That is my recurrent dream of our honeymoon.
They didn’t mention that in the ads.
My new husband Mark and I flew to Jamaica without incident, but within ten minutes of arriving, we were offered some local ganja (a.k.a: marijuana/dope/weed/wacky-tabacky):
Luggage Boy: (toothy grin at Mark) Hey mon! Your bag says you be a doctor. I’m Tazzi, I be a doctor too. I help you feel good, mon.
Denise: No thanks. We’re married now. We aren’t supposed to feel good.
Luggage Boy: (determinedly) No problem, mon! Every ting criss...I get you anyting you want! Just...
- POLICEMAN ROUNDS THE CORNER*
If you would have seen me poolside the next day, you might have thought me a mighty poor excuse for a thief, blatantly hording my stash out in the open: mounds of cigarettes in small bundles, neat piles of matches, a stack of monogrammed hotel napkins and an impressive array of varied glasses and beer bottles. This was an all-inclusive resort and I wasn’t going to diet or cut down on a single vise for the week I were there. This small-town prairie girl was taking no chances and I stockpiled as much as I could just in case they changed their hotel policy midweek.
Later that afternoon I waved off the chance to water-ski far out into the warm Caribbean Sea (I adhere to the belief that playing in areas where wildlife can swallow you whole should be avoided) so I was left to my own devises and chose to read on the beach. The sun was brutal and the ocean immediately in front of the hotel was protected by a high-tech safety net, so feeling uncommonly adventurous I decided to go snorkeling.
The fact that I couldn’t swim nor had I ever snorkeled failed to register in my mind. The self-preservation portion of my brain had been fully cooked in the blistering Jamaican sun and was set aside to simmer.
Learning the basics quickly, I floated along an exceptionally long pier jutting out into the crystal clear water. Wondrous! The panorama below me entranced: shimmering blues danced and shifted, changing hues like a liquid chameleon. But I soon noticed a hard-plastic cup from the resort embedded in the ocean floor. Usually, this object wouldn’t cause a stir but it dawned on me that these over-sized tumblers were quite large in my hands and this one was very tiny. Itsy-bitsy, even. Two things were immediately obvious: I was way too far out and there was a lot of water between me and that cup! I did not panic, but quickly snorkeled back to the beach.
I had just turned to sit in waist-high water when I heard the first scream.
People were running down the pier and shouting, pointing to a massive ripple in the water, utter horror stamped on their scorched, lotion soaked faces. The sinister wet wrinkle was in the precise spot where I had seen the tumbler just seconds before.
I didn’t know then what had caused all the excitement, but I knew that I had just missed a personal introduction to it. Ice-water shock doused me from head to toe. I wanted to scoot further back out of the water onto the dry, safe sand but I was frozen solid. A shark could have slid past and looked me over like a pork roast at the butchers and I couldn’t have budged an inch.
After a few minutes, I finally made a shaky retreat to my lounger and sat down. A staff server came to me and asked if I would like a drink or a snack.
Denise: Do you know what all the screaming was about by the pier?
Server: (naively honest) I heard a Moray eel broke through the netting, mon! A terrible big one, too!
Denise: Where is our luggage boy, Tazzi?
That particular giant eel had not accidentally passed through a breech in the netting but had sniffed a rare delicacy, an aged-to-perfection, 100% fresh Ukrainian/Canadian hors d’oeuvre and it had chomped clean through that net.
I was the Truffle of The Sea.
Now, how many people do you know can say that?