Lonnie hoped the infamous morning fog of Red Sun Bay would help hide long enough to enjoy one quick cigarette before returning to his family gathering. He was “not to be bad influence on the children,” as the family’s matriarch instructed. The pier was far enough away, the fog thick enough; he took a risk for the sake of his sanity.
Every trip to the pier came with the hope of seeing Ruby, Red Sun Bay’s local sea creature myth. Every lake in the area had a local myth. Children picked favorites and chastised each other for picking wrong. All in good fun. Lonnie had long ago stopped believing in such wild fantasies, but alone in the fog, far from grandparents asking when he’d wed, when he’d get a real job; he regained a bit of hope. He hoped something splendid would happen to make the return to his home town, a town he escaped as soon as he could, a little less taxing.
Ripples in the waves nipping at his shoes caught him off guard. Ripples meant something was moving and since they came at and not away from him, whatever was moving was found in the bay. He let his imagination run. In his head, he knew a salmon was probably flopping around or a heron tripped itself. In his heart, he hoped Ruby was making way through the water, coming to give him a really, really weird ride.
He soon learned to never let his heart hold hope.
A creature, the only description he could devise, rose from the water no more than a meter away from the pier. A snout like an alligator, a tail as long as a house, fins wide enough to shield stadiums from rain; it was the biggest, ugliest, meanest looking thing Lonnie had ever encountered.
The man froze with shock. He was sure his eyes could not open any wider. He looked over the teeth protruding from the mouth of the sea monster, he saw the sharpened scales lining its body.
Then their eyes met.
Lonnie recognized the creatures expression.
“You’re scared too, aren’t you?” Lonnie asked. In his head, he knew the creature only heard some noise coming from its meal. In his heart, he hoped they were creating a bond.
“Never met a person up close? Neither have I, really. In that metaphoric sense. That spiritual level? You know what, I’m talking to a fish.” Lonnie spoke quickly, fearfully.
He watched the creatures eyes move downward, following his arms and resting on the orange flame of his cigarette.
“I won’t tell if you don’t,” Lonnie said.
The creature nodded and returned to the bay.
“Well,” Lonnie said, rising off his seat on the edge of the pier, “that’ll do it for me.”