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Gator Country

by John M. Floyd

About the Author: John M. Floyd is the author of more than a thousand short stories in publications like AHMM, EQMM, Strand Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Best American Mystery Stories, and Best Mystery Stories of the Year. John is an Edgar finalist, a Shamus Award winner, a five-time Derringer Award winner, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and the author of nine books. He is also the 2018 recipient of the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer.


I was thirty miles west of town when I saw the body.

It lay at the foot of a long slope beside an empty stretch of two-lane, and at first glance was just a flash of blue shirt with what looked like a head and arm sticking out. The rest was in the water, which wasn’t too surprising—much of this part of the country is water. It took me less than a minute to pull off the road, back up, hop out, and make my slippery way down the hill.

The half-submerged body at the edge of the swamp was face-down and motionless, but after being hauled out onto the bank and rolled over, it twitched a bit—and groaned. To me, who had more than enough troubles of my own that day, it was a welcome sound.

Eventually two eyes opened, squinting up into the afternoon sun. “Am I alive?”

I couldn’t help smiling. “Guess so. But you got a pretty good knot on your head.”

“Think I hit it on a rock.” The man on the ground—he was big, and tall too—winced and shifted position. He was soaking wet from the chest down. “Just my luck—I read someplace there weren’t any rocks in South Louisiana.”

I glanced at a muddy chunk of stone four feet away, at the water’s edge. “It’s not a rock. It’s a cinderblock.”

“Great.” He gave me a pale, bleary look. “Who are you, by the way? Clark Kent?”

“Daniel Douglas,” I said. “Call me Danny.”

“I’ll call you my guardian angel. Help me up, would you?”

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