— He's in the crate, the man said, leading us around behind the emu pen. A three-legged dog came bounding out from behind the hedges. The emus started at the sudden motion, began running around in dizzy little circles. In their minds I'm sure it translated as escape.
— C'mon, Zero!* The man slapped his thigh and kept walking. You have that camera running, buddy?
— Sure, said Greg. Why not. He slung the Betacam up on his shoulder.
The crate turned out to be large enough to hold a horse, a great rectangular box of whitewashed planks. A strange smell hung around the crate, a sharp marine stench that came back on the tongue with a metallic aftertaste. The man opened up the crate and stepped inside. — Don't be scared. It's just old Psycho.
The strange smell poured out through the door, a reek of piss boiling on a copper plate. The alligator lay on a scattering of straw, an armoured shadow in the dimness. Several layers of duct tape sealed its monster jaws shut. The creature dragged its muzzle along the floor to look at us.
— Psycho's a young gator, but he's really aggressive, the man said. I had momentarily forgotten that he was in the crate. We picked him up in a lady's backyard.
— Tell us what you're going to do with Psycho.
— He's going on a trip to the Everglades in the back of my pickup truck. That's where we dump the gators.
He put one foot on the alligator's back. I took a quick glance at Greg to make sure he was getting this, just in case the alligator suddenly freaked out and started injuring the man who called himself The Gator Wrangler.
He gave the gator a nudge with his sneaker. — You're going for a ride, aren't you, big guy? See ya later. Alligator.
Damn, Psycho. You deserved better than that.
*Three-legged dogs get the coolest names. I knew one called Killer when I was a kid.