It was nearly 6PM as Chief Grady knocked on door number 11 at the EconoLodge. Hooper had spruced up and removed his woolen cap for dinner at the Grady residence.
“I really appreciate the dinner invitation. I’m not much of a chef myself so I never turn down a home-cooked meal. Rough day, Chief? You look like you’ve been through the wringer.”
“To quote my grammatically-challenged Deputy, ‘That ain’t the half of it’,” Grady joked. “I’m sure you’ll hear all about it soon enough. No doubt my wife is chomping at the bit to get the whole story. Gossip around these parts is considered an Olympic sport so you can bet the rumor mill has been working overtime today.”
Sharon Grady met her husband and the door and welcomed their guest. In honor of the occasion, she bypassed her usual comfy jeans and t-shirt, donning a breezy cotton shift that gracefully hugged her curves.
“The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. Grady,” said Hooper as he handed her a small bouquet of flowers. “I hope they’re okay, I’m not proficient in flowers but my grandmother always taught me to never show up empty handed to someone’s home.”
“Oh my!” Sharon exclaimed. “Please, call me Sharon and thank you so much. I can’t remember the last time someone brought me flowers.”
“Hey, Hooper, are you trying to get me in trouble with my wife already?” Grady teased.
“Not at all, Chief, in fact I brought you a little something too.”
This time, Max Hooper puller a bottle of whiskey from his bag and handed it to Chief Grady.
“After what I saw on the beach, I figured you could use a drink, my friend!”
“Better make it double!”
While the Grady home was filled with good food, laughter and strong drinks, a few blocks away, trouble was brewing. Collin Davies, still crashing in his buddy’s apartment after dropping out of school, passed a joint around to his friends.
“Ya know, I was thinking,” Collin paused to take another hit. “If we catch and kill this shark, man, we’ll be heroes. Bet there’ll be a reward too. Maybe even my uptight parents will actually let me in the friggin’ house again.”
“Whoa, dude,” Jason Simms drawled. “You’re right, man. We’d be gods in this town!”
“We should do it,” chimed in another.
A conglomeration of drug-addled minds set to puzzling out the herculean task of catching and killing a man-eating shark. For inspiration, and also because he loved the movie, Collin popped in his Jaws Blu-Ray.
“Wait! I’ve got it!” Collin announced, halfway through the movie. “Blake, doesn’t your dad have a fishing boat.”
“Um, yeah…he has a boat but,” Blake Warren slurred. “I don’t think he’d be too happy if we took it shark hunting.”
“Are you kidding? Wasn’t your little cousin one of those kids that was killed? He’d want us to do it, man. For your cousin and for everyone else that’s been eaten.” Collin countered.
With a little extra pressure, Blake was finally convinced that it was his duty to his family and to his country to destroy the shark before anyone else was killed.
“Okay, now we’re making progress. So, Blake, you get the keys for the boat. Jason, you’ve got fishing tackle and junk, right? Go get all of it and bring it to the pier. Trevor and Eric, you guys get bait and stuff. I’ll handle the refreshments for us and we’ll all meet at dock in about twenty minutes. Cool?”
At 6:30PM four of the five boys arrived at the docks. Trevor informed the others that Eric had chickened out but they, the self proclaimed four-horsemen, agreed to set off on their quest without their cowardly friend. The supplies were haphazardly tossed into the boat as Blake fired up the engine. In spite of the choppiness of the sea, they managed to reach their target destination well before sunset.
“According to my research, sharks hunt at night,” said Collin. “So, let’s get our lines ready while we still have daylight on our side.”
“Your research?” Blake scoffed. “Watching Jaws over a hundred times doesn’t count as research, man. No wonder they kicked you out of college.”
“Dude! Not cool!” Collin whined. “But I’m gonna let you slide ‘cause I’m the bigger man. Now, pass me that bag of chips; I’m starving. And as penance, you get my line ready too.”
“Yo! I just sent Eric a text tellin’ him he’s lame for bailin’ on us.” Jason laughed. “You should send him one too!”Minutes later the boys were snacking on sandwiches and passing around another joint as they watched the sun set.
“It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?” Trevor mused. “There’s something so peaceful about the ocean. I’m really gonna miss it.”
“Whaddya mean, miss it?”
“I got accepted to Xavier University in Ohio. I start classes this summer to, you know, get a jump start. Man, I think my mom is more excited than I am…it’s all she talks about.”
A round of half-hearted congratulations echoed through the group until Trevor deliberately changed the subject. Moments later, they were more cheerfully engaged as they fantasized about spending the reward money they were sure they’d receive for ridding their community of its deadly tormentor. They chattered on as the once-brilliant colors in the sky turned dark.
“Did anyone remember to bring a flashlight or something? Collin grumbled. “I can’t see a thing.”
“Yo! Don’t be spillin’ weed all over my dad’s boat, man. He will flip out,” Blake admonished.
“Whoa, guys, what was that? Jason demanded.