We heard the sound of sandy feet ferrying up the stairs outside. Gram was frying up the floured bodies of the snappers, turning them golden brown in bubbling oil. “Watch the bones, lots of little bones,” said Aunt Donna, glancing up from her case files. The sliding door to the deck opened suddenly and a westerly wind blew in the long, dark hair ahead of her. “SHARK, Montauk, Star Island,” my mother stammered dramatically. “Alright Karen, speak English PLEASE” my dad roared. “It’s all over the beach Jim. They caught a huge shark, a MANEATER,” she said regaining her composure. Pete’s response to the information was immediate. “Can we go Dad, PLEASE can we huh, can WE? I quickly piled on my own pleas and together we broke him. “Alright Karen, get your camera. Get the kids in the car, let’s go.” My brother and I celebrated with a ruckus that would wake the dead. We hurried down the stairs with machine gun-like pitter patter, spilling into the foyer below. Gramps yelled something at us that sounded angry but we hardly heard as we were out the door and already skipping on stones.
We’d only seen the Great White Shark in movies or on the television. “Should I take the high road or low road?” “High road’s faster Dad,” Pete said matter of factly. “Jimmy! Keep your arm inside the car before you lose it.” Mom yelled, catching me in the rearview mirror as she turned on the radio. “Montauk shark fishing king, Captain Frank Mundas has done it again, returning early this morning with a world record catch. A seventeen foot, thirty five hundred pound Great white shark believed to be the largest ever caught by rod and reel. Mundas is rumored to be the inspiration for the “Captain Quint” Character in the 1975 movie JAWS,” said the trained voice of the newscaster. “Holy COW Dad, you hear that? WORLD RECORD” “I I hear Peter, thanks,” he said sounding cross.
Montauk was still buzzing when we arrived. It was as if a star had fallen to earth and around the impact site there were families, news people, and the crew of the Cricket II. The crew was clad in yellow tee-shirts titled The Monster Man with Captain Frank Mundas below it. There, lying upon a yellow net, roped off in the middle of this fray was the monster himself. He was at least the size of our station wagon and the enormity of his mouth scared me. So big and angry was this mouth frozen in death, gums exposed in the fierce snarl of a magnificent eating machine. “I heard him call us all DAWK rats, guy’s a JERK, “a man in the crowd exclaimed. Mundas, with the gold earring and shark-tooth necklace of a pirate came striding out of the shadows of a nearby garage. The real life “Quint was everything you would expect a shark hunting captain to be. He was weathered like salty leather from the sea. He wore dark, aviator sunglasses while a skipper’s cap hung precariously high upon his head. “Come on people enough already eh? We been here all day, ok eh? Time to put this monster on ice,” said Mundas with the voice of Archie Bunker. We took the Low Road way home. The sun had set and the East End was cooling fast. The stars were brilliant in the night as I settled in my spot, resting my head against the car door. “Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain,” my dad sang it soft like a babies lullaby. I closed my eyes and I could see the blinking barrels cutting through the water, submerging with the sizzle of bubbles into the deep, dark Atlantic.
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