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It's in the wee hours of the morning, those haunting hours when most of us are asleep, that the residents of the canals of Waterway Manor appear. During these times, you don't want to be too near the water, or on your dock. Many years ago, before I didn't know, I had awoken during these hours. It was a shuffling sound outside my window which had disturbed my sleep...a sort of slow dragging sound through the grass. "Probably a snake.' I thought.
Anyways, once awake, I have to get up...the lure of a cigarette, and a cup of coffee too much to ignore.

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As most nights during the summer here in Florida, it was calm, and balmy, the sky filled with stars, the moon, if shining, turning everything silvery. I made the coffee, and decided to have it down on the dock.
The air was heavy with the scent of fruit trees, flowers, vegetation, and an occasional whisp of salt from the brackish lagoon water that filled the canal.
Sitting back on the bench, legs stretched out, gazing over the canal waters before me, my coffee at my side, I lit up a cigarette. Nothing can compare to that kind of moment...it's a celebration of sorts. I breathed in the pure homogenized air, thinking how perfect it all was.  Still, ever so still...not a sound to be heard. The State parkway, about a half mile to the west didn't have a car on it. The houses round about me, and across the canal just dark sylhouettes...not a light in any window. These were the days before the strip malls along the parkway were built, so there were no lights to reflect up off the clouds, or shine over the tree tops. The only light this night was a half-moon over my shoulder. Actually, whether day, or night, you never saw anyone in their back yards, which of course fronted on the canals.... It was a spooky place at any time. Some called the area "The Waiting Room For Heaven"...it is still that way, though alot of the older folk have died off. That's too bad in a way, because I have none of them to corroborate this story...they knew!

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As I enjoyed my vices, I thought: "Gee whiz, I'm actually sitting in what once was the middle of a swampy marsh!' It was only ten, or twenty years before that developement started in this area. The old nautical charts show the whole place being marsh.
I thought of what kind of creatures roamed this place back then. Some of them still remained...alligators, manatees, snakes, herons, and so on. Of course the deer, bear, and cats long gone...shot to extinction. Up to this point, that's about all I could imagine being a "Brooklyn" kid. I'm sure the "natives" could recall quite a few more.
I was beginning to "spook" myself with this imagined scene of sitting in the middle of a dismal swamp...alone, and at night, when something started rubbing itself on one of the pilings of the dock.
It was below the surface...that's for sure, as I saw nothing. It had to be well below the surface, as the water didn't stir. It brought me back to the present real fast. I jumped up, almost spilling my coffee.
Rasp, rasp, rasp again. With definite gusto, this whatever certainly had an itch it wanted gone. I peered over the edge of the dock into the dark still water...nothing, and then the rubbing stopped. "Ahhh, probably an alligator.' I thought. Probably the one that was outside my window, but no...that couldn't be, there was no way an alligator could get up to the house...the bulkheading, or "sea wall" was at least four feet high! No...that was something else! "Oh the hell with it!" I said, and started back towards the house.

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Shuffel, shuffel, shuffel...out of the shadows of the house came this figure. Ever so slowly towards me, lumbering, long arms swaying from side to side.
The air became pungent with a terrible odor. I became paralyzed...like in a dream, I couldn't move.
It came closer, and closer...definitely intent on confronting me, when a gargled grunt came from the direction of the dock behind me. A quick glance back, and there was the itchy one waving my attacker to the dark canal waters. With a deep grunt, and a half-turn to its right, it made for the company of its companion. In a half-dozen strides it was at the edge of the lawn letting itself slowly into the familiar dark waters.

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I was in good shape in those days...very strong physically, and it would have been a toss up of who would have come out alive once I got over the initial fright. Plaqued by Frankenstein, Werewolf, and Mummy movies as a kid, I always had a sub-conscious awareness of spooky stuph lurking in the shadows. Most of my life having been spent at sea, and having travelled all over the planet, I've lived close to both sides of life...the physical, and spiritual. I can relate to the "un-seen", but "felt" like most seamen who've spent lonely hours forward on the bow on lookout on dark, sinister nights, the only sounds to be heard being those from the bow-wave, and the creaking of chains in the chain lockers below. You never snook up on a bow lookout at night...you whistled as you approached him. Now I found myself in a dilemma.

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Composing myself, I returned to the patio, lit another cigarette, and gave the episode some thought. I liked, and still do, this place. If I told the wife, who incidentally wasn't awakened, about this, convincingly or not, it would give her the needed ammunition to leave this place. To her, the area was a cultural desert, the people intellectually dead...homo-vacuuous, and socially retarded. This is still the case, but that's what's great about the place...it makes it peaceful, and quiet. So...there was no telling her about my two new "friends". There was also no point in telling anyone else...most of them being skeptics to begin with, and also fast to pin the "wacko" label on you.

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To this day, except for a few sightings along the highway between here, and the port being published in the local newspapers, nothing is ever mentioned. I know they are there, and it is not only at night that I have seen them. Just recently in broad daylight, my dog alerted me to them...first barking up a storm, and then yelping as she retreated to the safety of the house. There, casually swimming a few feet under the dark, murky suface, I could see the two pass off into the gloomy depths. At night, again in the wee hours of the morning, while sipping coffee, and having a smoke, but not on the dock, I'm alerted by my pal's deep-down growl. She knows they're there, but is content to remain safe on my lap. My only fear is for one to lose the other...then I think we would all know.
 

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