Three crocodiles had died where the sea could get to them and Alex and the woman had to drag them up beyond the highwater mark before the tide came in. The first two were easy, still in good shape and close to the shore. They had to wade through water up to their thighs to get the last one, a real monster of a crocodile, mostly eaten away already, skinless, bloodless, white, the architecture of its ribs open to the sky.
“Eugh,” said Alex. Every wave lifted the monster and pushed it a little closer to the shore.
“Pretty gross,” said the woman.
“It’s the smell. Not the crocodile’s, the sea’s. I can’t stand the sea. I can’t stand the way the sea smells.” The woman grabbed the white gape of the mouth and looked at him expectantly. Alex circled slowly around the crocodile, the water sucking at his legs with every step. Bright feathers were woven through the ribs where the muscle was eaten away, red, blue, metallic green, a riot of colors. Alex pulled at one of them but it was embedded in the bone.
The woman was watching him, eyes dark and impatient. “What are you doing? Pick up your end and let’s go!”
Alex grabbed the tail and nodded. They lifted together, took one step, set the crocodile down. Lift, step, rest, over and over again on the quarter-mile back to shore. Every wave lifted the monster; with every step the crocodile’s feathers spread a little more widely, wings opening at last, too late.