At the end of his shift, Marvin took the ferry around the southern tip of Manhattan to take in the skyline one last time. It was a tradition he had developed somewhere inside his 45 years working as a captain for NY Waterway. He finished everyday by taking the opportunity to look at the city from the river before heading back to the docks and clocking out.
“Oh how you’ve changed, my old friend,” Marvin muttered wistfully from the boat scheduled to retire with him. Tomorrow morning, someone else would replace Marvin and another boat would replace the one that he had affectionately referred to as “My Office.” It would go to a scrap yard, though it would probably hold little value as a salvage project. Marvin, on the other hand, didn’t yet have such a clear cut destination for his first day of retirement.
Behind him, the water began to bubble and stir. Small waves were causing the boat to rock and Marvin rushed to the railing to see what was causing the wake.
From beneath the murky surface rose a great sea monster. Its head was rounded like a slope with two great dark eyes full of a depth the likes of which Marvin had never seen in humans or any other animal. Its mouth spanned nearly the entirety of its head, which was eight feet across.
Before Marvin could stir from where the shock had cemented him, the monster opened the smallest portion of its wide mouth and said, “Hello.”
The boat was still rocking, making it difficult for Marvin to maintain his balance. He opened his mouth, but only grunts came out.
“It’s alright. I know you don’t know me as well as I know you, Marvin,” the monster’s tone was conciliatory and polite. “I’ve watched you for decades, and I must say, this boat looks like quite the morsel.” It ran a grayish green pointed tongue across several of the jagged teeth that it revealed as it spoke.
“A-are you going to eat me?” Marvin finally found his words.
The monster laughed in a way that sounded like a deep, rich fog horn. “No, of course not. I feel like we are old friends, or co-workers at least, seeing as how often our paths have crossed. I would never eat you.” Two enormous tentacles crept above the waves and gestured as it spoke. Beneath its face was a torrent of activity, what Marvin surmised must be a dozen other tentacles flurrying to keep the great creature afloat.
“Your boat, on the other hand…”
Marvin rubbed his eyes, still struggling to believe the sight before him. “The boat is getting scrapped after today,” he said almost reflexively. The monster’s huge dark eyes filled with a sadness that Marvin himself had felt leading up to this day.
In that moment, the fear and shock drained from Marvin and he felt a strange connection with the creature. “You’ve wanted to eat this boat for how long?” he asked.
“Since I first laid eyes on it.”
That was in the late eighties, Marvin thought. This monster has been fixating on this boat since the late eighties. “Why didn’t you ever eat it?”
“It was always so full of people and people taste so wretched. And they always get stuck in my teeth,” the monster smiled widely, revealing a thousand sharp, pointed spear tips of ivory – each unique and serrated in its own way, no two identical or even all that similar.
An idea came to Marvin and his gaze fell on the small canoe-shaped lifeboat that the ferry was equipped with in case of emergencies. “Give me a minute,” he asked of the monster.
Soon the canoe emerged from around the bow of the ferry with a life vest wearing Marvin inside. In both hands were paddles, which he used furiously to keep from tipping over in the monster’s wake.
He looked into the monster’s eyes and smiled. “Once you’ve eaten this boat that you’ve spent so many years pursuing, what will you do next?”
The monster echoed Marvin’s own thoughts when it said, “I’m not really sure.”
“Goodbye old friend,” Marvin whispered to the ferry and then he nodded at the monster.
Its mouth opened and opened and opened some more, revealing row upon row of teeth that seemed to lead halfway down its throat. Marvin back paddled as water began pouring down the monster’s gullet and then the ferry boat with it – crashing against the teeth as if they were rocks and breaking into a thousand pieces; ending an era, a chapter in the life of both Marvin and the Monster.