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INCIDENT AT THE WATERFRONT
“Panic on the Pier”
LOU ABBOTT – Truck Driver
I’m tellin’ ya, Captain, it was the most awfulest thing I ever seen!
“I’m not a captain; I’m just a lieutenant. Lieutenant Agar.”
You got a boat, don’t you, Mr. Agar?
“I have a canoe, of course. I’m a Canoe Cop.”
And when you’re on that boat, you’re the guy what’s in charge, ain’t you?
“Well, yes, but…”
And the guy what’s in charge on a boat is the captain, ain’t he?
“Well, I suppose…”
Then in my book, that makes you the captain, and ain’t nobody gonna to confuse me by tellin’ me otherwise. I’m confused enough as it is tonight!
“Why don’t you just tell me what happened, Mister…?”
I’m Lou. This is my pal, Bud. Usually, he does the talkin’ for the both of us, but … We had a little accident.
“I know. That’s why my officer called me back to Canoe Cops HQ in the middle of the night.”
I’m sorry about that, Captain, but it was terrible! I… I scare myself just thinkin’ about it!
“Just stay calm, Mister… Lou, and tell me what you remember.”
I’ll do my best, Captain.
“Um, Lou… Why is your friend moaning? Is he badly hurt?”
Nah. He ain’t hurt much. He just got his jaw wired shut, on account of it bein’ broken. He’s moanin’ at us ’cause rememberin’ ain’t my strong suit, Captain. Bud likes to say that me and memory are old enemies. I’ll try my best, though. Here goes…
Me and Bud are down at the lakefront, sittin’ on the pier, see?
A nice hotel room or somethin’ woulda been better, but we had a big accident earlier in the day with our truck. ZOOM! Right off the causeway!
“Yeah, I heard about that. A friend and I checked out the wreck. Quite a mess. You two are lucky to be alive.”
We gotta be the un-luckiest lucky saps around!
Anyway, we’re sittin’ on the dock, waitin’ for mornin’ to come ’round, ’cause we ain’t got enough money for a hotel room, ’cause we got fired from our jobs for sinkin’ our truck, see?
Stop moanin’ at me, Bud! You know it wasn’t my fault we drove off the causeway. It was those guys in the back what you didn’t believe existed until we saw what we saw tonight.
And I didn’t mean to drop our expense money off the pier, either. I was just fishin’ for change to give the popcorn man. It’s lucky we didn’t lose our bus tickets, too. Good thing we bought ’em before I dropped our dough in the drink.
So, without any money for a room, Bud and me, we figure we might as well just stay on the pier. Bud even says that maybe I can help get our money back.
“How?” I asks.
And he gives me a good swift kick right in my… you-know-where.
That’s the first time I fell off the pier.
“And that’s why you and your friend are all wet? He jumped in to save you from drowning?”
Oh, no. I can swim plenty good, so Bud didn’t have to jump in. Besides, that was ages ago. I had plenty of time to dry out before I fell in again.
“But that’s when your friend broke his jaw?”
No, that happened later, too.
Look, Captain, if you’re gonna keep interrupting, I might as well clam up.
I gotta tell this my own way, or I’m gonna get all confused.
“More confused, you mean. Okay. Go on.”
Anyway, while I’m in the drink I realize that maybe Bud wants me to dive for the money—and probably that’s why he kicked me in. But I never was any good at snorklin’, so pretty soon, I give up. By the time I manage to crawl back onto the pier, Bud has borrowed a couple of fishin’ rods from somewhere.
“Maybe we can use these to fish out the money,” he says, handin’ me a pole.
“Or maybe at least catch some supper,” I say, on account of we ain’t got two dimes to rub together.
“Just find the money,” he says. “The supper will take care of itself.”
That makes sense to me. So me and Bud start fishin’.
“Hmm… We did have a report of fishing rods being stolen earlier today…”
Bud says we don’t know nothin’ about that, Captain. But, y’know, it sure seems like there are a lot of strange things goin’ on around Phantom Lake these days. Maybe you oughta get yourself a hexorcist.
“You mean an ‘exorcist.’”
Nah. You don’t need nobody like that. You look like you’re in pretty good shape. I could probably use more exercise, though, on account of us drivin’ all day. Of course, we ain’t gonna drive so much anymore…
Okay, I’ll get back to the story.
So, Bud and me fish all day until after the sun sets, but we don’t manage to snag either our sunken loot or anything for dinner.
Now it’s really dark. So dark I can hardly see my hand in front of my face. When all of a sudden, I get a bite on my line—which is kinda weird, as we couldn’t afford any bait for our hooks. But I don’t look no gift horses in the chompers, so I start reelin’ it in.
I’m pullin’ and pullin’, but this fish must weigh a ton.
“Ahh! You probably just looked an old boot,” Bud tells me. But he puts down his pole and comes to help out, anyway.
If he got there a moment sooner, I might not have gone inta the drink again.
“You fell in again?”
Yep, ’cause the fish on the other end of the line gives a big jerk, and… ZIP! Right inta the lake I go.
That’s the second time I fell off the pier.
I’m a pretty good angler, though. So I manage to hang onto the rod, even as I’m thrashin’ around in the water.
“Gimme the pole!” Bud shouts.
“Careful!” I say. “This fish’s got a lot of fight!” But I hand him the fishin’ rod anyway.
Bud almost falls in, too, before he gets a good grip on it, and he’s still fightin’ this monster by the time I manage to crawl out again.
Now there’s two of us on the line, and we’re pullin’ for our lives—or at least for our supper. Then, finally, we see what we hooked.
Up out of the water it came, drippin’ wet like it was covered with seaweed. It was the awfullest thing I ever seen. It was a monster—a real monster!
“Wait a minute… You’re claiming you hooked the Phantom Lake Monster?”
I ain’t claimin’ nothin’, Captain. I saw what I saw when I saw it.
“And what you saw was a sea monster … here in Phantom Lake?”
Sea monster, schmee monster! This weren’t no soggy serpent. I was a mummy!
See? Bud agrees with me. It was a mummy, a drippin’-wet mummy!
It’s all covered in rags, and it smells like wet laundry, and it’s got these burning eyes, see?
And when we see it, Bud and me drop our fishin’ pole. And one of us screams—I think it was Bud.
Okay, maybe it was both of us.
But the monster’s seen us now, and it doesn’t stop comin’ just ’cause we dropped our pole.
And it must be mad ’cause we hooked it, and maybe started unravelling its bandages or somethin’.
And it’s so awful that Bud and me, we just stand there, screamin’, while it climbs up on the dock.
The whole pier shakes with every step it takes.
It’s comin’ closer … and closer!
And then it’s just a few steps away… And it’s reachin’ for us … And its dead eye sockets are glowin’ red—like it wants to murder us… And that’s when Bud and me finally remember to run.
But we both pick the opposite direction, and—BANG!—we crash right inta each other.
And the mummy grabs us, and… ZOOM! Off the pier we go! It throws us off either side of the wharf like we was nothin’.
And that’s the third time I fell off the pier.
And this time, Bud goes with me.
And we’re thrashin’ around in the water and screamin’ our heads off, ’cause we’re sure the mummy is about to murder us.
And that’s when that big guy, Officer Torson, finds us.
“I … see. Is that right, Officer Torson?”
“You know I’m not a captain, Tor. I’m only a lieutenant.”
“Look, never mind the captain stuff, Tor. Did you see this mummy these … gentlemen are going on about?”
“Nah, Captain. Tor found da little fishies floundering in da drink and fished dem out. Didn’t see no mommies, nor no daddies, neither.”
But, Captain, I’m tellin’ you, it was real! Bud and me was lucky we didn’t drown—or get ripped to shreds by the mummy! Its eyes was like fire, and it had murder in its clutches! Murderin’ fire!
“If all that’s true… What happened to this so-called mummy? Where did it go?”
I don’t know, Captain, and I don’t wanna know. Last Bud and me seen it, it was lumberin’ off inta the night. If we never see it again, it’ll be too soon!
See? Bud agrees with me! It’s all just like I said.
“So, you’re claiming that this… mummy threw you both off the dock? And that’s when your friend got his jaw broken?”
No, the mummy didn’t do that. That happened when we ran inta each other on the pier. Bud cracked his chin on my skull.
I guess I got kinda a hard head.
What’re you sighin’ for, Captain?
“I’ve had a long day. Look, there’s not much I can do here. This monster, if it exists, is on land now, and my jurisdiction ends at the shoreline. I can ask the local PD to keep a lookout for anything strange. Plus, I can take you to the police station and let you sleep there, in the drunk tank, until your bus arrives in the morning—just for your own protection, you understand.”
Thank you, Captain. Bud and me would be mighty grateful for that.
“All right, I’ll call a friend of mine at the Phantom Lake PD and set it up. Officer Torson, keep an eye on these two, would you? We don’t want any… mummies coming to murder them. I’ll be right back.”
I feel much better now. Don’t you, Bud?
Me, too. If there’s one place we oughta be safe from them mummies, it’s in jail.
But, Bud, after we get outta jail, there’s just one more thing I wanna know…
Can we go home now?
NEXT: Brawl at Banning’s Boarding House
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