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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Pamela Ebel: Sleeping with Sharks!

ym_91_sleepingwithsharks_h_lyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2022

Sleeping with Sharks!

By

Pamela Ebel

 

Sheepshead Island, California

July, 2005

       “Alright everyone, quiet down. We have one more storyteller to hear from. Maggie Bodean, welcome to the 45th Annual Sheepshead Island Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. You all know Maggie’s uncle was Tommie ‘Tank’ Bodean. He passed away a few months ago and left her his fishing camp. Maggie, we are really pleased you joined us today and we want to hear your fish tale entry for the ‘Liars’ Contest’. Jack Casper smiled at Maggie and handed her the microphone.

       “Thanks Mr. Casper and thanks to all of you for the warm welcome. I spent every summer from the time I was six to seventeen at Uncle Tank’s camp. I’ve been busy cleaning it up which, if you knew Uncle Tank, you would know is a serious challenge.”

        Lots of laughter followed.

          “I wanted to be here to honor him as a founder who never missed a rodeo in 44 years. More importantly, he was a frequent winner of the ‘Liars’ Contest’ and while cleaning out his desk I found a letter he left me. He asked me to read it at the next ‘Liar’s Contest’ after he was gone. So, here it goes, in Uncle Tank’s own words:

       ‘I want to thank my niece Maggie for agreeing to do this last favor for me. You all know the Legend of Big White. The story goes that the Great White Shark got separated from his school during a migration down to Mexico. Bad weather drove him into Shark Fin Cove and he took up residence there. Those of us who grew up on the island know that many people were supposed to have tried to catch Big White and disappeared without a trace. And most of the islanders just say that the shark doesn’t exist except in the over-active and booze-filled imaginations of the local fishermen.”

        More laughter and raised beer cans in response to this.

       ‘Well friends, I am going to share a story with you because I didn’t want to leave without clearing up two mysteries. First, remember back in 1985 when Carl Magnus went missing? There were rumors that he might have left the country because the Feds were investigating him for money laundering. That might have been true, but it wasn’t what caused Magnus to disappear. No, he disappeared because of his love of ‘dirty laundry’. See, Carl was quite the ‘Ladies Man’. He’d have affairs with the wives of prominent men and then blackmail them for his silence. One of those husbands got in a fight with Magnus, hit him with a baseball bat and killed him.’

       The crowd was completely silent and leaning toward the stage as Maggie looked out at them.

      ‘That husband was a longtime friend of mine, and came to my camp that night with Magnus’ body in his car trunk asking for help. I never cared for Magnus and didn’t think anyone else did either. I waited to midnight, then took Magnus to my boat, Ole Snake Eyes, and cruised to Shark Fin Cove. I put two life jackets on the body so it would float on top of the water like a large fish, wrapped a rope around it and hooked a Tarpon Fishing Spoon to it.

       I lowered Magnus into the water and watched him float out behind the boat. Then I started trolling slowly and chumming the water with dead fish parts and blood and waited. Soon I saw a large fin appear and circle the boat slowly. Then the fin got close to the wheelhouse and a head rose to the surface. Finally, I was eye to eye with Big White. He swam around Ole Snake Eyes again, slowing to look at me. He was huge, about 17 feet long and several hundred pounds.

       He disappeared briefly and I was afraid he might hit the boat. All of a sudden, I saw the fin move back and then Big White rose up behind Magnus’s body. His huge mouth opened, and his teeth sparkled in the moonlight. Then he picked up speed. In two quick bites Carl Magnus disappeared forever. The only thing left was the Pet Spoon dangling from the rope. I watched Big White circle the boat once more and eye me, then he sank back into the water.

       I waited a while then went back to my camp. I never saw the husband again and never shared the story until now since everyone concerned has moved on. I went back to Shark Fin Cove a few times later. I’d see the fin once in a while, but Big White never surfaced. I decided his purpose was to dispose of all the bad things in life. The second mystery I wanted to clear up, is that Big White is not a legend. He exists and I wanted you to know how to get rid of a bad situation once and for all.’”

       Maggie folded the letter and placed it in her pocket and looked out at the crowd. There were a few minutes of silence and then the laughing and clapping began. Mr. Casper announced that Tank Bodean had won the ‘Liars’ Contest’ in absentia.

       Taking the trophy, Maggie walked to the dock and boarded Ole Snake Eyes. Thirty minutes later she cruised into Shark Fin Cove, set the engine on idle and listened to the radio news that convicted serial killer Tipp Torres remained on the run after escaping from a van taking prisoners for medical treatment. Authorities had been looking in the Sheepshead Island area where Torres grew up, but hadn’t found him yet. Maggie, however, knew just where Torres could be found. A half mile from Uncle Tank’s camp was an abandoned fort where all of the island children played growing up.

       Now she opened the tarp lying at her feet. Tipp Torres stared back at her with a shocked look. She was grimly satisfied that the last thing he saw before her bullet landed right between his eyes was the face of his sixth victim, her twin sister, Lily.

       She took Uncle Tank’s letter out of her pocket and placed it in Torres’ mouth and lowered his body, with the two life jackets firmly in place, into the water and secured the Tarpon Spoon to the rope. She watched as the body floated silently out behind the boat.  Grabbing the bucket of fish guts, parts and blood Maggie chummed the water as she started trolling slowly.

       After thirty minutes a huge fin appeared and circled the boat once. Then near the wheelhouse the huge head rose out of the water and Big White smiled a toothy grin at Maggie, drifted back and lined up behind Torres’ body. He picked up speed as his giant mouth opened.

        Later, as she pulled the fishing spoon and rope in, Maggie looked at the moon and smiled.

       “Thanks for sharing the Legend of Big White, Uncle Tank. Sometimes the only revenge to be had when bad things happen is ‘Sleeping with Sharks."


Pamela Ebel has been published in Shotgun Honey, The BOULD AWARDS 2020 Anthology, as well other venues. Her poetry has appeared in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California, she now concentrates on tales from her original home state and tales from the highways of the South. She also knows, like the Ancient Greeks and the Irish, that as a southern writer you can’t outrun your blood.

She has turned to writing full time as of 2020, obviously either perfect or bizarre timing, and this will be her fifth career. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with her husband and two cats.


Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/





In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022