Each day weather permitting I go to the beach. I clean the sand out of the wheels and pivots of my wheel chair. I lube the hubs on the front wheels. Pack my day bag along with my binoculars and wheel myself down Ocean Drive. My destination: the giant palm tree on the south east corner of the Villagio Hotel Property. It's the perfect spot. It's about fifty yards from the water at low tide. The brick pavers aren’t too difficult for a wheel chair, so I manage. I really love this spot the sidewalk and common areas are a rustic Mediterranean color and the palm gives me shade for most of the day. My only competition for this tiny piece of real estate is Jimmy the Bum. Jimmy, who is drunk most of the time, occasionally beats me here. He panhandles, sleeps, and picks up old cigarette butts to try and smoke what’s left of them. Today I'm first so Jimmy will have to take the other side of the sidewalk. I got my spot!
From about ten o'clock to two o'clock the walkway is busy, tourists mostly going back and forth from the restaurants and hotels. Families carrying their beach bags, husbands, boyfriends, lovers talking to their wives, girlfriends, lovers- who knows. I enjoy the activity and I eavesdrop a little.
The afternoon is typical Jimmy is sleeping off his early morning drinking and I am watching all the beach goers. There is a couple that has my attention. A man and women together, she is coated in suntan oil, I can see it glistening off her bronze skin from here. He is just sitting and watching everything. He seems to be a very observant man. His girlfriend—I don't think they are married— sometimes checks his glances, she is suspicious, but she remains quiet. I just think he is observant.
About twenty yards north of their position another couple is enjoying the sun. I’m sure they’re married. They display a lack of interest in each other that many married couples show in public. It’s hard to really know what that means—it could be trust—it could be who cares. They talk and I guess they both decide he would go to the food stand and get some refreshments. He walks by me and heads for the stand. On the way back he says hi to me and asks if I'm a vet. I say “yes” and he commends me for my service. What a nice guy!
I watch both couples, the married couple, and the observant man who is coupled with the jealous women. The married man goes into the water, while the observant man just sits under his umbrella with his shades on. There’s a lot of people in the water today, the tide is low, water temperature is seventy-three degrees. The low tide is great for children to play in, there is no shelf or drop off. So many kids are on boogie boards, floats. Families playing together. It's a beautiful day.
I look for the married man, but I don’t see him. I glance towards his chair, look at his wife, she is sleeping, but I cannot see the man. So I gaze over the crowd. Maybe he got out of the water and went for a walk on the beach. I look up and down the beach, then I see him pop his head up in the water. He must be quit a swimmer, to stay under water that long. So I look back at the observant man, he is watching something, his head perks up, something has his attention. I look back towards the married man, he has gone under water.
The observant man gets up and starts yelling shark, shark as he runs towards the beach where all the children are playing. I see the fin, it’s definitely a shark. The life guards come to life leaping from their sedentary posts. The jealous women, watches her boyfriend as he runs towards the water. The married women, wakes up and begins looking for her husband. Everyone else stands up with their cell phones and they all begin recording the excitement. Children are running for their moms and dads. Moms and dads are running for their children, and the wife stands at the edge of the water looking for her husband. The observant man is still yelling shark and he is in the water. The married mans head pops up and the shark is right behind him.
There is thrashing and the water turns red. The observant man stops. He stares at the spot where he last saw the married man, and he does not leave the water. I look around many people are still recording the event with their phones, but some have stopped. The ones that stopped go to their chairs and begin texting or whatever it is that they do. I glance at Jimmy he is sleeping through all the excitement.
Best Shark Book
A head neck and torso wash up to the beach. The man who had a kind exchange with me, just moments ago, is gone. His wife is holding her hands up towards the water and she looks over at the man who tried to warn everyone. She must be in shock.
Most people stop recording the event with their cell phones. Paramedics come rushing by me with stretchers and they all step on Jimmy’s feet that are sticking out in the walkway. People are coming off the street to see what happened, the walkway is getting crowded.
The jealous women: goes to her boyfriend. Suddenly he is a viral man and she is aroused, she shows this by kissing him passionately. They hug for a moment. He walks out of the water, shaking his head. I can tell he wanted to save the man. The life guards and paramedics talk to him, a few pat him on the back. His girlfriend enjoys the attention he is getting, he is shy about it.
The medical examiner arrives while other city services clean up and gather information. The tourists who recorded some of the event are gone, others who witnessed and recorded all of it are talking with police, and a few to local news crews. I guess it will be all over the local TV news tonight.
The observant man and his girlfriend leave.
I sat and thought about what I had just witnessed. The observant man saved a lot of children, the shark went right through the area where they were playing. I toss an old cocoanut at Jimmy to wake him up. Startled he hits his head on the brick wall and spills all the change the passers-by tossed into his cap. I guess it's time to go home.
I’m lucky. My apartment is on the first floor, it’s small, but I like it. I have a computer desk that my chair fits up to nicely. I like to browse the internet sometimes. So I make a sandwich and roll myself into place. When my browser comes up it always shows me the latest news on CNN, FOX, and the local stations. I also watch You-Tube videos. I always watch the most popular videos of the day.
CNN, FOX have more war stuff— ISIS stories. The local channel has the weather, always the weather, the only good news they can report is the weather, because the weather is always good.
You-Tube has taken life though, there is a bunch of videos streaming in- fresh new content- that everyone loves to see. All the top videos today have a similar title. SHARK ATTACK — SHARKS SWARM MAN— SHARK EATS MAN ALIVE— and the most popular of the day MAN WATCHES SHARK EAT ANOTHER MAN.
The views of all the videos are soaring, the most popular was at 200,000 one minute then 2,000,000 the next. And the world that now …sees itself as a witness, to this horrific event, is weighing in with comments. The streams of opinions never seem to end, but they all say about the same thing.
Cavegirl21: “It was horrible, he just stood there. What a coward.”
Avenger17: “If I was close enough I would’ve saved him.”
I'm a slut 18: “Did you see the look on the woman’s face as she looked at that coward.”
Lonlygirl12: “I'm horrified. The coward looked like my father who left us.”
Braveheart29: “I will find that coward! I’ll teach him about bravery.”
Enlightenus4: “Our society is failing. We must all seek the truth to understanding.”
Anger69: “I'll beat his worthless ass.”
Sugarlipps: “How can someone just stand there while their best friend gets eaten alive?”
Monstor99: “My rage shall be felt throughout the land.”
Monstor99: also quoted Edmund Burke, “that evil succeed when good men do nothing.”
The bravado: pouring out of their empty souls, as they espouse their opinions of life and mankind. How pathetic to sit in solitary self-imposed confinement and criticize the world. Every video I watched was of the shark attack: that I witnessed. All the brave commentators were nowhere near the scene of the attack. The up-loads showed all the videos were posted by companies called XCITE, CONTENT MEDIA, YOUJUSTSAWIT, and others. They all pay for videos. The people who made the short videos had their story and they got some quick cash. This all got under my skin, I was angry. So I thought about it and responded.
My online name is GWVET54 and this is what I wrote back.
I saw this shark attack, and the man you all are condemning tried to save the man who got attacked. He did save several children who were in the water. They were not friends, he was brave, and his actions should be commended.
Responses were as follows.
Sugarlipps: Where is your video, if you were there. You’re probably the coward. People like you are ruining the internet.”
Avenger17,Braveheart29, and Anger69 all replied with the same answer: YOU’RE A LIAR! In capital letters of course, they wanted me to feel their anger. I didn’t.
I turned off my computer and turned on the TV for the local evening news. First story, shark attack, they did not pin point the location for fear of scaring away the tourists. But they did show video that showed the man running into the water and warning everyone: although the news commentator said, “He sure caused a panic, but children were saved. So I guess it was worth it.” They mentioned there was a victim, but did not disclose any more information about him.
About a week later, on You-Tube there was another video of the attack. Someone named Clarity33 posted it on their channel. So I guess Clarity33 was on the beach that day. It had a few hits, and one comment about the man warning the children. But most people had already moved on, satisfied that they knew the real story.
Copyright© 2014 Artemis J Jones