1

The MacKenzie family had farmed the surrounding fields for five generations. When Ted MacKenzie's father Jake was a child, the fields had been covered by endless rows of corn.

"Corn as high as an elephant's eye." Just like the words in that old show tune said.

The farmhouse where his father had grown up remained in the spot where it was originally built, but not on its original foundation. When the rising sea level began to approach, the floor and walls of the basement had been replaced by a hull. The MacKenzie's family home was now a houseboat, moored to a series of surrounding pylons, where it rose and fell with the tides.

24 year old Theodore MacKenzie sat alone at the rear of the family dinghy, beside the outboard motor. He guided the 15 foot long shallow craft through the narrow channels, between thick, putrid, patches of reeds and swamp grass, which grew as high as the rooftops of one-story houses. He thought of what now lay on the bottom of the water, where rows of corn had once grown, and he chuckled.

The firmly built, dark haired fello, in blue jeans and short sleeved yellow shirt sang softly.

"When I think of my happy condition,

Surrounded by acres of clams.

Surrounded by acres of clams?

Surrounded by acres of clams!"

Clams, he thought. Yes! Not just acres, but miles! And miles of oyster beds! And shrimp! And lobster! And crabs!

"Cockles and mussels! Alive! Alive oh!"

And don't forget all those cultured pearls!

Then Ted called out, "Thank you Lord for Global Warming! Amen."

And for the schools of fish that swim in the channels, and the seagulls gliding overhead, carried along by the warm breeze, beneath the hot, heavy sun and glaring blue sky.

He slowly moved the small open craft following the channel, which now turned sharply to the right. He expected to see the usual houseboats, barges and masts of sailboats that made up his community of Shellfish Shoal. What he saw made him gasp. He immediately shut off the motor.

About thirty feet ahead, a bare patch of ground rose a few feet above the water. A ten-foot long alligator was stretched out upon the muddy mound, basking under the heavy sun. The sleeping creature's jaws were yawned open, with an item hanging from its lower jaw. The item was a woman's string bikini top, with one of its strings caught around one tooth.

Ted held his breath so as not to wake the creature. He recognized the color pattern of dazzling red, yellow and blue triangles, on the garment's cups. He'd seen Dorris Schaffer, his ex-fiancee, wearing this bikini top yesterday afternoon.

As he sat there trembling Ted prayed softly.

"In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask God the Father Almighty, to send forth the Holy Spirit, and…"

And what? He wondered, but just for a moment.

"And keep this creature of yours, who's already eaten, from eating me too."

The alligator rose up. Its jaws snapped shut, cutting the bikini string, dropping the garment to the ground, as Ted tried not to move.

Then the creature quickly slid down the embankment into the channel, turned away from the dinghy, gliding just beneath the surface. The lines of scales along its back, moved rapidly away from Ted.

The man sighed and relaxed, while whispering, "Thank you Lord. Amen."