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ALLIGATOR LIVES ©

ALLIGATOR LIVES ©

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Published by Dick Croy
Short Story with Sherm Koons.
Even after you get to know him Nathan DeYulia is a compelling presence. It’s the eyes mainly: the same deep-set aquiline eyes attributed to Rasputin, or the mesmerizing gaze to which the otherwise unremarkable features of Charles Manson are as subservient in photographs as his idolatrous band of sociopaths were to the man himself. Nathan’s full black beard, too, in conjunction with his six-foot, broadshouldered frame, tend either to intimidate or, for
Short Story with Sherm Koons.
Even after you get to know him Nathan DeYulia is a compelling presence. It’s the eyes mainly: the same deep-set aquiline eyes attributed to Rasputin, or the mesmerizing gaze to which the otherwise unremarkable features of Charles Manson are as subservient in photographs as his idolatrous band of sociopaths were to the man himself. Nathan’s full black beard, too, in conjunction with his six-foot, broadshouldered frame, tend either to intimidate or, for

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Published by: Dick Croy on Feb 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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 Alligator Lives
ALLIGATOR LIVESEven after you get to know him Nathan DeYulia is a compelling presence. It’sthe eyes mainly: the same deep-set aquiline eyes attributed to Rasputin, or themesmerizing gaze to which the otherwise unremarkable features of Charles Manson areas subservient in photographs as his idolatrous band of sociopaths were to the manhimself. Nathan’s full black beard, too, in conjunction with his six-foot, broad-shouldered frame, tend either to intimidate or, for many women apparently, to fascinate.His appeal to women is understandable the moment he laughs and the warmth hidden inthe depths of those dark brown eyes is ignited; you realize then that it’s an artist’s, not apredator’s, scrutiny to which you’ve been subjected. Experiencing his sculpture, whatthose powers of observation are capable of realizing in totemic or playful combinationsof natural objects with recycled materials, confirms both his extraordinary talent and thelove of life revealed in his robust spontaneous laughter.Nathan’s married to an equally strong, complex, rather enigmatic woman named1
 
 Alligator Lives
Rita, a performance artist. They’re gradually renovating an old house in TopangaCanyon, the mountainous area just west of Los Angeles. My wife and I, part of the circleof friends that includes the DeYulias, have been acquainted with Nathan and Rita foralmost five years now. I thought I knew the most significant people in his life, past andpresent, until we attended their annual Halloween party last fall.Nathan, adopting the manner and appearance of the shaman his close friends feelhim to be though he normally downplays this part of his nature, invited guests, one at atime, into his studio for a short personal ceremony which had all of us emerging a littledazed and bewildered. In wavering candlelight and the pungent smoldering of a smudgestick, he brushed various parts of our bodies with a feather, struck and shook a fewpercussive instruments in what seemed an at once random yet somehow appropriatemanner and uttered an incantation that was apparently unique for each of us. It was alldone in a sense of both mystery and playful fun: a purification ritual as performed byCoyote, the trickster, perhaps – or some kind of aboriginal jester figure. At least that’show I took it.Later, comparing notes with my wife, who’d gone in ahead of me, I happened toglimpse Nathan and a woman I’d never seen before, engaged just outside his studio in anintense silent exchange so intimate that I was compelled to turn away. She was costumedand partially masked, but something about the languid self-confidence in her postureeven in this moment of passion or distress, had convinced me of her beauty. I lookedforward to being introduced to her later but she disappeared. In what I hoped was anunobtrusive manner I scoured their house and large lawn, Nathan’s studio, then the2
 
 Alligator Lives
surrounding darkness – which revealed vegetable and flower gardens, a compost pile, therusting hulk of Nathan’s old school bus and much else but no mystery woman – beforethe three or four acres of newly mown grass gave way on the periphery to weeds,underbrush, forest.I thought maybe by the time I got back to the party, she’d have reappeared and,when she hadn’t, wondered why the hell I was making such a big fuss over her. It wasbecause of the way Nathan had looked at her, and she at him. The shared history in thatpoignant tableau was as haunting as it was obvious. My good friend had been holdingout on me; that and the mystery woman’s faceless (non)identity had aroused mycuriosity. Bewigged and dressed in an elaborate Restoration gown, she’d probably havewon the prize for best costume if there’d been one. But I knew nothing about her besidesthe brief glimpse with Nathan which my mind had imbued with such intensity.“Who the hell is the woman I saw with you last night, Nathan?” I confronted himby phone the next day.“...Which woman?” he replied, but the hesitation had given him away.“You know who I’m talking about. Marie Antoinette – the woman I saw youtalking to outside your studio before she vanished into the night.”Again a pause, then: “Rita’s going out of town tomorrow. Why don’t you comeout sometime in the afternoon and I’ll tell you a helluva story? About alligators.”“Alligators?”“Alligators and archetypes.”“I’ll be there,” I told him. This is the story he told me.3

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