There's a particular species of Central American reptile known as the "Jesus Lizard," so called because of its ability to walk on water.
That lizard has nothing on Big Boy, the gator that was resurrected from the dead.
There probably is no official record kept, but there is little doubt that the saga of the alligator that lives in the pond behind Brown Feed and Seed is probably the weirdest story in the history of, well, ever.
Seriously. I've seen some weird stuff: A guy who was hit by a car, then landed on a rattlesnake and was bitten repeatedly, leaving the coroner at a loss for whether he was killed by the car or the snake.
Or the time at the radio station when I tentatively awarded our news tip of the week to the person who called in to tell us about a double-murder. I then jokingly told the DJ that the tipper would lose only if there was a triple-murder. About an hour later, we got a call about a kid in Thomson who killed his parents and sister.
There's plenty more in my 25-year compilation of crime stories and weirdo sightings, but for the life of me I can't imagine there is anything any stranger than the life and death and life of Big Boy.
Travel back with me in time to that era known as "a little more than a week ago." Way back then, the entire community was aghast; the quiet alligator, who spent his days basking in the sun, minding his own business and eating frogs, apparently had been hacked to death.
Poachers, we believed, had killed the 900-pound alligator, cut off his head, front legs and tail with a portable reciprocating saw, and left the remaining carcass at the edge of the pond.
(In Big Boy's honor, by the way, I got a cordless reciprocating saw for my birthday. I don't plan on carving up any alligators, though.)
A reward fund for Big Boy's killers was established, and quickly rose to more than $4,000. Quite a few people noted that the amount was quadruple the award being offered for the killers of a Richmond County man.
Meanwhile, investigators - appropriately named for investigating the death of a gator, don't you think? - were as stumped as that dead carcass. The crime scene was far too clean for such butchery, for one thing.
But cops know one important thing about criminals and the people they hang around with: They can't shut up. Most crimes, in fact, would probably go unsolved if the people committing them simply didn't talk about it.
In this case, the size of the pot of reward money shook loose a few tongues, and pretty soon the gator-investigators found their men. Both are from Columbia County, and admitted killing a totally unrelated (except, I suppose, genetically) alligator in a private Richmond County pond, hacking off the pieces they wanted and dumping the rest in Big Boy's domain.
The investigators wrapped up the tale - though not the tail; they haven't found the missing body-parts yet - by doing something novel. They went to the pond and looked.
Sure enough, there was Big Boy, his eyes glowing in the light reflected from the wildlife officials' spotlights.
Certainly I'm not the first person to say, "Why didn't you look for him in the first place?" But it's understandable that if you find a dead gator in a pond where a gator is known to live, that you would assume the dead gator is the same one who used to live there. Makes sense.
But it also answers a question about whether it's safe for Big Boy to remain in his home in the middle of Evans, where nail-biting namby-pambys fret over the fate of their wayward poodles.
At this stage, Big Boy has met the enemy - and it is us. I doubt he is one bit of danger to anyone (unless they're dumb enough to go floating in his pond; then all bets are off). But this attention certainly has made us all a greater danger to Big Boy.
Let's face it: He's been perfectly content to lie in his pond so quietly that for nearly a week we thought he was dead. But to paraphrase an old song, how is Donnie Brown going to keep him down on the pond now that he's been "resurrected"?
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.)
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