If Tommie were alive, he would have no small regret for the decision that led to his undoing by the too, too willing jaws of a Texas low country alligator. But Tommie, whose body was recovered still wearing the t-shirt bearing the slogan "this guy needs a beer", is(more) profoundly dead and so regrets nothing.
He'd shown up dockside to get a burger and to keep his buzz going. Tommie was a sometimes carpenter which meant that mostly he wasn't. This weekend, Tommie was pounding beers, not nails, and he'd ridden with a girlfriend from his house to the little shack in the swamp that sold burgers and bait and beer.
Tommie hopped out of the car and bee-lined it to the counter. He acted like he might be high, someone remarked after the fact. Not weed, meth. Tommy mostly stuck to beer, but lately meth had become a weekend dalliance for him, and it made him jittery, impulsive.
"I'm hot as a motherf---r." He said to the thin crowd of regulars. Half-downing his Budweiser he announced, "I'm getting in that water."
Someone cuts him off. "You better not. There's a gator in that pond. We saw him last night. He stays under that dock."
Then, Tommie speaks his last words, "Man, f--k that gator!" Cigarette dangling from his lip, he suddenly sprints to the end of the dock, flinging himself into the water as if he were burning alive. The water foams and fizzes with the force of his splash. A moment passes. He doesn't come up. Several minutes pass. The girl he rode in with starts to cry, and the men gather nervously by the water's edge, peering past their own reflections into the murk below. "Call the sheriff," someone says finally.(less)