(Read the rest of this series here. It’s the best thing that currently exists.)
It’s amazing how quickly your luck can change. One minute you’re riding high, your freshly stolen manatee sitting beside you like a trophy, and the next you’ve been betrayed by an old friend and thrown off a bridge. Literal ups and downs, you know?
I don’t really remember the fall. Too much adrenaline. Or maybe all that life flashing before my eyes took up most of the view. I don’t know. The only parts that really stuck with me later were the initial lurch as I tumbled off the bridge, that feeling like I had to vomit up every one of my internal organs, and then the hard, loud smack of impact followed by the roar as water crashed against my eardrums.
I have no idea how far the drop actually was, but the fact that I survived it without any injuries was probably a miracle or some shit. I tumbled around underwater for a while, then finally managed to right myself and burst to the surface.
Unlike this idiot. He’s probably going to stay underwater forever. That’s how you die, bro.
I tread water and shouted up at the bridge in the hopes that my voice would carry that far. “Joe! Joe, can you hear me? You have to fight back, Joe! Punch that bitch Sid right in his stupid shriveled dick!”
Maria moaned. “Would you shut up? The manatee’s not going to fight a person. They’re gone.” She floated about ten feet away. I turned toward her. “Hey, I’m just tryin’ to give the little guy some encouragement! You don’t tell cancer patients to just give up, do you? You tell ’em to fight! Oh wait, are you hurt right now?”
She was doing her best to float on her back, barely moving. She fluttered her arms a little to keep her nose and mouth above water, but it didn’t seem like she would last long. She said, “I think I may have a cracked rib. Or three.”
“Oh balls. Can you swim to land, you think?”
“Yes. Maybe. I mean – ow – I guess it’s that or die, right?”
“Yo, I can help you out.”
“No, fuck you! I can do it.”
I reached out. “Babe, listen up. Your torso is bangin’ hot and all, but it’s also busted as shit. You’re not going to be able to swim back to shore on your own. Let me give you a hand. Or two, preferably.”
She splashed me away from her, baring her teeth like a tiger. “You are not going to help me. Need I remind you that you’re the one who caused this whole mess!”
“Don’t be such a martyr,” I said. “Grab under my arms and I’ll frog kick us to land.”
She sighed so heavily I thought she was going to exhale all the air out of her lung and sink straight down to the bottom of the ocean. But she relented, likely because she didn’t really have a better choice.
It took probably twenty minutes before I could touch down. I tried to play it off like it was super easy, but by the end of it I was panting and spluttering water into her ear so I think she knew.
She wriggled and said. “I can make it from here. Let me go.”
I did as she asked and then smiled. “Look at me, saving your ass again. And you were acting like you’re all mad at me.”
She moved away from me, pushing her way toward shore as fast as she could. “I am furious with you, you brain-damaged fuck!”
“Hey, take it easy. You’re still hurt, you know! Where you going in such a hurry? Do you want, like, a massage or something?”
“I’m going to call the police! And I’m going to go get my manatee back.”
I hopped after her. “Yo, well there’s no need for the cops! We can go get it together. Seriously, I’m game.”
“You are not getting any closer to that manatee than you are right now! In fact, I will personally make sure that you end up in prison for what you’ve done!”
Eh, whatever. I do pretty well there.
I said, “Hey, don’t pin this all on me! You think I wanted that cuntass Sid to steal the manatee? That thing means a lot to me!”
“Oh yeah? That’s why you held a harpoon to her head?” I started to respond but she cut me off. “Look, if you really want to help then just hold your head underwater for a few hours. That should do the trick. Now get out of my way.”
I shook my head. “Lady, you don’t understand. I’m Chris Derricks. I don’t just sit back and let somebody else solve my problems. I take charge! I’m a commando! Now look, I gave that manatee my word. I promised Joe I would get him the hell out of Florida, and I plan on doing exactly that. I don’t intend to let some skeezy motherfucker come along and get on the Challenge leaderboards with my manatee!”
“You are goddamn delusional. That manatee – which is a she, by the way – is going back to the zoo with me. Even if we did in fact manage to rescue her from your psychopath friend.”
“OK, so you agree that we’re gonna try to rescue him then? Cool, let’s get at it!”
“That’s not what-”
“Look, doll tits, whatever our differences of opinion, we both want the same thing, right? We want to save that manatee from goddamn Sid. Really, we’re on the same side here.”
I ain’t no hippie or nothing, but occasionally I can get along with people.
She said nothing for a long time. Then, finally, “Listen to me, asshole. If we do manage to get that manatee back, the last thing I’m going to do is let you have her.”
“Well, let’s just say that we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
She winced and clutched at her ribs. “Ugh. Don’t talk to me about bridges.”
Out of nowhere, something emerged from the sand below us and attacked my foot. I screamed really manly-like and jumped backwards. “Ow, what the fuck?! Help! Something bit me! Oh shit Christ, it’s gonna eat me!”
Maria said, “Calm down. It’s probably just a stingray.”
The thing was still down there, poking at me. I plunged my arm into the water after it, trying to mash it in my fingers. If I was gonna be dragged down to the depths by some kraken motherfucker then I planned on taking it to hell with me.
Punk ass bitch! You got nothin’!
“Get up here, fucker!” I yelled.
I wrenched a chunk of the beast out of the sea and flung it around for a while until I realized it wasn’t moving. I stopped thrashing and took a look at it. It was white and blackish, slightly triangular, about a half a foot long. It looked like wood or a rock or something.
Maria laughed, then winced in pain. “Congratulations, you just got into a fight with an inanimate object.”
I turned it around in my hands, trying to make sense of it. “Yo, what is this thing?”
“It’s a Megalodon tooth.”
“Fuck you, stop making up words!”
“I’m not. Megalodon was a giant prehistoric shark. Bigger than any alive today. Sometimes their fossilized teeth get carried close to shore by gulf currents. You’re pretty lucky to have found one. Not that you deserve it. Karmically, I mean.”
Here’s one, next to some great white shark teeth for comparison.
I turned the tooth over in my hands. “Yo, are you telling me that I just got attacked by a giant dino-shark and survived?”
“I… guess you can look at it that way.”
“Oh, shit yeah! I’m awesome! Fuck you, Megolodon, I win! I’m Chris Derricks: dinosaur kicker!” I ran my fingers across the edge of the tooth. It was still serrated in some spots. “Man, this thing is awesome! I’m going to make the biggest shark tooth necklace you’ve ever seen!”
Maria shook her head. “God, you really are just the purest strain of douchebag, aren’t you?”
I loosened my belt and stretched out the waistband of my shorts. I slid the tooth into my undies for safekeeping and fastened the belt back up. The crotch of my pants: there wasn’t a better place to store my valuables.
Maria stared. “Jesus, did you shove that tooth into your underwear?”
“Aw yeah, girl! Makes my junk look extra jagged. Bitches love that.”
“Oh my God. We most certainly do not!”
“Yeah, whatever. I see the way you lookin’ at me. You’re already all wet.”
“I’m waist deep in the ocean, dipshit, of course I am.”
The shallows of the bay transitioned into some swampy marsh shit. We trekked through, slowly but surely. We had almost reached land proper. As we walked, I got to thinking about the fearsome Megalodon.
Not to be confused with a Megadong, which is what I’m packing.
I ran my hands over the tooth-shaped bulge in my shorts. “You know, I see this as an omen.”
“Yeah, how so?”
“This tooth is from a predator, right? A great hunter? Well, that’s what we are. We’re gonna get out of here and then go hunt down that motherfucker Sid. We’re gonna hunt him down and tear him to pieces, and then we’re gonna get our manatee back!”
Her eyes narrowed. “My manatee. And yeah, we’ll see how well this works out.”
I chuckled. “Don’t you worry, baby lips. We’re gonna rescue that manatee, all right, or my full legal name ain’t Chris Fucking Derricks!”