We Call Up Danger Only to Send It Away

By Lindsey Pharr

April 3, 2023

We Call Up Danger Only to Send It Away

“I can call ‘em, you know.”

“Call who?”

“The gators.”


In response, Joe lifted the trolling motor with one tattooed arm. Then he winked at me and started making these beeping noises in the back of his throat. No sound floated on the Pearl River but the whine of mosquitos and Joe’s Space Invader laser chirps. I watched the black water for movement, my lukewarm beer forgotten.

Nothing. A fish jumped. Far off bumps broke the glassy surface and cruised toward us. Then more bumps. Then more, like a stealthy flotilla of logs. Or alligators.

Only females respond to the chirps made by their hatchlings, and although alligators always look pretty menacing, these ladies looked pissed. Soon we were surrounded by a dozen alligators, all over six feet long. I found myself acutely aware of just how tiny this little bass boat was, how thin its sparkly red fiberglass hull. Joe beamed at me. The gators’ eyes peered up at us, unblinking.

“Now what?” I asked.

“You wanted to see some alligators! Now you want ‘em to go away? Make up your mind, Baby Girl!” He lit a Marlboro and exhaled, smiling down at the gators indulgently, as if each one was his precious, deadly baby. He looked the same way at me, sometimes. I was the closest thing to a daughter he ever got. Then he reached down with his palm and slapped the water, hard. Every pair of eyes disappeared, returning the surface to glass once more.


Lindsey Pharr lives in a cabin in the woods outside of Asheville, NC. Her work has appeared in Longleaf Review, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @lindsey_a_pharr.


Image by nils-leonhardt courtesy of Unsplash

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