David James – Croc (2nd edition, May 1979)
In the tradition of “Night Of The Crabs”
“The crocodile was racing past him, and Reamers only had time to look up as the beast’s mouth opened wide, then closed with a sickening crunching sound around the torso of one of the men.”
For years people had heard the rumours about crocodiles and alligators lurking in the sewers beneath New York – and for years everyone had laughed about them with scorn, but now …
Sewage workers Peter Boggs and Marian Fascetti are investigating a blockage in the system under Manhattan. Peter, closing in on sixty and alcoholic is suffering his usual hangover and, having almost drowned in the lower tunnels several years ago, he urges his young partner to leave well alone as its almost knocking off time. Unfortunately, their Supervisor Howard “College Boy” Wickery has been on their case recently and Marian descends … into the waiting jaws of an enormous, roaring crocodile.
At first, Boggs is loathe to tell the truth about what happened because he knows Wickery won’t believe him, so he explains that Marian was feeling sick and went home early. Andrea, Fascetti’s beautiful young wife, catches up with Peter in a bar and grills him about her missing partner. By way of explanation, the drunkard reminisces:
“In the twenties it started … all the rich bitches from uptown were raising hell, going to parties, driving their fast cars, putting in swimming pools in their penthouse places. But it got boring after awhile. No one was satisfied. They wanted something new, something different. So some of them began stocking their pools with baby alligators and crocodiles. Only the fad didn’t last long, so they dumped the thing down the sewers rather than kill them.”
Andrea has connections to the mob, so when she hands Peter a pistol and tells him to get down in the sewer and kill the reptile he doesn’t have much option but to obey, even if it is after nightfall. The last we’ve seen of him, he’s being chased screaming through the slimy waters, so its unlikely he’ll be seen again – well, save for a few chewed, fleshy remnants.
**** Patrolman Glen Stapleton joins the action. He’s not the greatest cop but his superiors haven’t been able to find a way to get rid of him as he’s currently involved with Darlene the nymphomaniac stripper – and Darlene’s the commissioner’s daughter. Captain Lipke despises him more than most and hatches a foolproof plan to finally get him off the force. Jerry Reamers, a long-haired hippy reporter on The New York Times has been assigned to write a piece on a typical NYC precinct, so Lipke gets Stapleton to babysit him, super-confident that his least favourite stooge will screw up and give the Police a bad name.
The first thing Stapleton does is introduce Reamers to the desk sarge … just as Andrea Fascetti is reporting the deaths in the sewer. Reamers senses a scoop …
On the home straits now and amazingly, Boggsy is still hanging in there although he’s smelling none too clever right now. Captain Lipke has had to reevaluate his opinion of Stapelton after the young officer retrieved the bloodied remains of poor Fascetti and dumped them on his desk, instigating an impromptu ‘let’s see who can vomit last’ competition. Even the hippy journo is playing a blinder, interviewing sceptical experts at the zoo and generally being useful. Actually, if the book is telling us anything it is that screw-ups and losers are people too and very useful to have around if a giant croc goes loco in a sewer.