Out Of The Water
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H W Shelton
No one expected to see this thing out walking around.
It was truly something that you viewed through the glass that held gallons of water or maybe seen once in a lifetime in a river if you were lucky.
But out walking around wasn't what anyone expected this creature to be doing.
To really set it all off, it was wearing a hat and carrying a cane in its front paw or foot or whatever you would call the front leg on this creature.
A scary sight to be sure and a very puzzling one.
He seemed very friendly and tipped his hat to ladies as he strolled along the river bank where the good folks of 'Hide Away' town had gathered for the annual town picnic.
He even went as far as to do a little two-step dance as he played a toe tapping number on his saxophone.
A smile at the folks thus showing his pearly white teeth that seemed to fill his quite large mouth.
To be honest, however, I did as most folks did that day, enjoy the routine very much and we clapped loudly when he had finished and took a bow.
When he finished playing, the crowd went wild and he went right on into his dance.
His two-step was a sight to behold to say the least; I thought I was going to split my sides with laughing right out loud.
He seemed to love it and did steps that I'm sure would hurt this old body should I ever be foolish enough to try them myself.
Everyone again clapped long and loud and even cheered when he had finished his dance.
He then put on a little vest and walked up to the concession stand and ordered a pink milkshake.
He placed a pair of sunglasses on his face to cover his eyes and stood there drinking his shake and patting his foot to the music that the town band was playing and looked very normal indeed.
When he had finished his milkshake, the band had stopped playing and were taking a break, he took off his shades and vest, put on a little purple hat and started walking around the crowd shaking hands and smiling, acting much like he belonged there.
The way that the people greeted him one would believe that he had always been there and was just out having a picnic with his friends. Slapping him on his back and putting an arm around his shoulders and grinning real big; you'd think he was running for office.
Looking back on the incident, I'm not all together sure he wasn't; he sure could have won an easy victory.
As the day went on he made friend after friend.
He played some more music for us and did a few other dances; he pulled people up out of the crowd to dance along with him.
I found myself starting to warm up to this creature and I might even call what I was feeling, friendly toward him.
Yes, I might have called him a friend by the time the sun started going down and the evening breeze started whispering through the trees.
He sure did have a way about him.
He had won the hearts and friendship of all who were there that day and he wasn't through just yet.
Picking up his saxophone he started playing some mood music and the couples got up and started dancing to his tune.
The town band joined in and I tell you folks, it was like a real star had come to pay us a visit.
I was touched by his music, me and my misses even turned a circle or two out on the floor.
When the song was over and we all thought the day was about to end, he ran over to the big barbeque the town had set up and started cooking up some swamp food that would make your mouth water.
I have never tasted anything so good since or before that evening and I'm still to this day, not sure what it was.
After dinner, he did a few more moves for us out on the dance floor that had us all cheering and asking for more.
He even walked on his front paws or feet or whatever you'd call them.
It beat all I'd ever seen.
When he finished he took a big bow and the folks all got in line to walk by and shake his hand or paw or whatever, and I was right there myself.
After we'd all finished saying goodbye, because that's what it was, and we all knew that; our new found friend looked at us all gathered there in front of him.
With a sad look on his face, he waved goodbye to us with his hand or paw or whatever and started walking back down the hill toward the water.
He had gotten in to where the water was almost covering him when all of a sudden he flashed us that big toothy grin of his and waved real big and then he was gone.
We have never seen or heard from him again.
A small ripple on the surface of the water was the only sign that he was ever there.
That along with all the smiles and laughter that he had created that day and had left us with.
The town talked of nothing more for months after that and every time he was mentioned, someone would smile real big as they remembered something that the gator had done while in our midst.
He was indeed a strange one, but that was the most fun I can ever remember having at one of our towns picnics, ever.
Should we ever see him again, we'll be sure to thank him for making our lives more interesting and our days filled up with joy simply by remembering what a silly gator did when he showed up at our picnic.
I've seen a lot of things come and go in my 150 years and I tell you folks, I ain't ever seen anything like that and most likely will never again.
But the lesson that that gator taught us that day so long ago still lives in our town and we never take someone for granted, we never judge by outward appearance anymore.
We know our next friend can come dressed in funny ways and we need to be sure that we keep an open mind so we'll be sure and spot him when he shows up.
I've got a sneaky feeling that somewhere, maybe at another picnic, that old gator is doing his thing right now and changing the thinking of whoever or whatever is watching him do it and I get a warm feeling inside just thinking about it.
I do believe that my time is just about up and I must be moving on now.
We're planning another town picnic for next month and you can bet that everyone is wondering if he'll show up again after all these years.
Part of me wonders the same thing.
Well, that's my story folks and I thank you for sitting and listening to an old turtle ramble, and I hope your next picnic is something you'll never forget!
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