Dragonflies stood alone in midair, then zippped lower, stood, then buzzed over and up. Several of them flit up, down, and past with a whir of veined wings under the heat of the sun and through the humid air. We watched and reached but they evaded clutching fingers. Then buzzed up to a stationary spot before us as if to say, nyah. They stayed just beyond reach and just far enough over the brown water with green vegetation along the edge so that an attempt would topple us over into that water.
But there was more to this pond than darting dragonflies as marvelous as they were with their bottle-green iridescent tubular bodies supported by rapidly whirring wings. Below at water's edge wriggled tadpole tails, scooting fat little bodies through the water in search of food. We had mason jars to capture some if we wanted but this time we just watched.
"They are baby frogs, you know. As they grow they eat those tails to become frogs."
"How do they eat them? They can't even turn around and they got no hands to pull it to their mouths."
Clyde sighed. "You got a lot to learn, nef. We learned in school about 'em. It's called apsorbshun. It just melts back into those fat heads and forms legs and feet and stuff."
"Wow. When do I get to study that stuff?"
"When you're grown up like me."
We went back to observing the squigglers. Along the surface of the water scooted what looked like a tiny black half rubber. It never broke the surface, just skimmed along without sinking.
"Theyre called water bugs. They run on top of the water with feet that don't get wet."
"'Cause, dopey, they got special feet that don't sink."
"That's right. If they had hands you'd see 'em pick up their shiny black houses and run across the length of this pond on little unsinkable feet."
"That's right, nef. Would I lie to you?"
"That's right. See that log over there?"
"See those eyes?"
"Yeah, eyes. See 'em looking at you?"
"Those eyes across the pond."
There on the far side was a log with what could be called eyes reflecting light.
"Yeah, I do."
"That's a alligator."
"Is too," he said, with a faint smile creeping across his face. "And while you've been leaning over the water looking at tadpoles he's been eyeing you."
"Why would he do that?"
"'Cause he likes to eat kids about your size."
“Oh yeah. Why I remember when I was about your age I came down with a buddy and we were putting tadpoles in Mason jars when that very same alligator snuck up and grabbed him and dove to the bottom of the pond. I never saw him again. Like scared me to death."
"Not so!" I yelled.
"Shhhh...you don't want to startle him. OH! Now you've done it! See what you done? He's moving slowly over here."
I looked and he was right. There were ripples in the water around him.
"I don't know about you but I'm gettin' outta here," he said and turned to run. I didn't see the string he had in his hand since my eyes were fixed on the alligator moving faster through the water in my direction. Clyde was running faster, I was held frozen by the eyes barreling toward me. It lurched to a stop and Clyde grabbed my arm yelling at me, "Run, run, it's gonna get you!"
My feet unfroze and I took off running from under the trees and onto the street. My feet were a blur, my heart was hammering away and I was letting out a yell as I cut through the yard of a neighbor.
Clyde stopped in the middle of the street unable to move for laughing fit to be tied. He's gonna get eaten, I thought as I slammed the screen door on my way to hiding under the bed. Clyde walked in about 10 minutes later, laughing, as he opened the refrigerator to get some water. He flopped down on the couch and I slipped out from under the bed. He just laughed every time he looked at me for the rest of the day. I wondered why until I went to the pond next to the 16th green by myself the following day. I sneaked up so's not to awaken the alligator. I saw what Clyde had pointed out to me on the previous day. It was right where we had been. String lay in a pile on the edge of the water. It led out to a log that floated close by. In that log, embedded in a crack, were two cat's eye marbles.