Dan Rattiner's Stories

Great Ecuadorian Eel Wreaks Havoc in Hamptons Waters

The Great Ecuadorian Eel has been seen in the Hamptons this past week. This confirms what the authorities have feared—that this 40-foot-long eel, born and raised in the mountains southwest of Quito, Ecuador, has come to spend the winter here this year.

“It’s just like when he was last here in 2002,” Chief Barton of the Hampton Police Force told us. “But now he’s seven feet longer than he was back then.”

The first sign that the eel was here occurred last Monday, when people in Water Mill saw the head of the eel sticking up out of the chimney of the Water Mill Museum on Old Mill Road in that town. The head appeared briefly—the eel glows orange—looked around, then went back down. The museum is closed this time of year.

“The eel lived under the Mill Pond ice for a while in 2002,” the Chief said. “So he’s come up the Mecox Bay estuary into the headwaters again. His head was seen by at least three motorists driving by who called in to report him.”

The next sighting became an encounter. Harold Johnson’s pit bull Biff had been in the dog pound for a week after he bit a mailman in the leg in front of Johnson’s house on Mill Pond Lane the previous weekend. He was let out with a warning, and Johnson was walking him by the pond Tuesday afternoon when he growled, broke free from his leash and raced onto the ice to be swallowed up whole by the Great Ecuadorian Eel, who leaped up out of a hole in the ice.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Johnson said. Then the eel went back down the hole.

The next day, Johnson and some friends organized a bow-and-arrow brigade to try to kill the eel. It is the hunting season, after all. The men walked on the ice and stamped noisily around but the eel would have none of it. After half an hour, as they turned to leave, the eel leaped up through the hole. Johnson, with fast reflexes, turned and fired an arrow. The eel, hit, fell atop the ice.

“I thought we had him for sure,” Johnson said. “But then the eel coiled around, puffed himself up, and suddenly the arrow came popping back out. The eel then growled, leaped forward and snatched Hank Grobavitz, bow and arrows and all, and dragged him back down the hole. We heard the two of them banging around under there for a while. Then all sound stopped. Frankly, I’m lucky to be alive. He got the wrong man.”

Johnson and his friends met afterwards and talked about losing Hank, which most thought was not such a bad thing. Hank was not popular in Water Mill. He cheated at cards, once got arrested for trying to bribe the mayor, and another time got arrested for shooting off a high-powered rifle into a telephone pole to cut the power to a next-door neighbor’s house.

“If it had to be one of us,” said Johnson, “it was best it was him.”

The next day, Friday, one of the other hunters shot a deer, skinned it and draped the carcass over a low-hanging tree limb on the banks of the pond. Everyone took a turn standing watch. The deer carcass disappeared during the night, on Johnson’s watch.

“Standing in the cold for seven hours at night this time of year, well, I couldn’t just watch it the whole time. When I went to check a message on my iPhone, I looked back up and the carcass was gone. The limb, too. Cut clean.”

Anybody coming across a 40-foot-long glowing orange eel please contact this writer at dan@danspapers.com. We’ve got a whole winter ahead of us. The good news is the eel migrates back to Ecuador in the spring.

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