“Relax,” he told Jack. “You and your pals wouldn’t have had to worry about me anymore. Wouldn’t have, anyway, even if nothing had happened today; besides us striking the mother load of crabs. I should nail you just for that, Jack.
“I’ve gotten an assignment out of town and had decided to give up crabbing. All you needed to do, was wait until we got back to the marina and I would have been outta here.” Alex explained. “Caronne may be dead now, and it’s on your shoulders, Jack.”
Jack had a cowed, beaten expression on his face and seemed on the verge of squirming like a child being scolded. Yet, Alex sensed he had little true remorse over the wrong he had done.
And Alex had only a partial understanding of its depth.
In Jack’s own eyes, he was a victim and that status both justified his actions and absolved him of blame. The shame in him was mostly from being caught. Alex seemed not to know that, too.
“Go see what all of Carrone’s screaming and yelling is about,” Alex said. “I’m running the boat back to the wharf. You two give me maybe… fifteen minutes, then use his boat to take him to the hospital. I’m sure I broke his ribs and jaw.” A concerned look had come over Alex’s face, though both had tried to kill him. He was being quick to forgive. “If anybody asks what happened to him, leave me out of your story.” Now that other look returned. “Or I give you my word, you’ll pay.”
Silence filled the swamp.
Alex looked at him, and felt a sudden revulsion that came close to making him physically sick. Then he gestured back the way they had come. “Get out of my sight”, he said at last.
Jack hesitated a moment, as if he still thought there was something he ought to say.
He then simply nodded, stepped past Alex, and started to walk away through the swamp.
“And Jack?” Alex called after him.
Jack stopped and glanced back over his shoulder.
“Don’t worry,” Alex said. “I’m sure you’ll manage to live with yourself.”
As Jack returned to the cypress where he had last seen Carrone, he could hear the sound of Alex starting his boat and throttling up. As he looked around, he found a piece of Carrone’s boot, then another.
Looking out into the distance all he could see was the eyes of a gator watching him from a swamp pool. He remembered Carrone’s words, “You don’t need to worry about the gators,” and he remembered the line of a song from his past; “The Looseeana swamp’s gonna get ya’ boy…”