Read Jaws Online

Authors: Peter Benchley

Tags: #Sharks, #Action & Adventure, #Shark attacks, #Horror, #Seaside resorts, #General, #Fiction - General, #Marine biologists, #Sea Stories, #Thrillers, #Horror fiction, #Fiction, #Police chiefs, #Horror tales

Jaws (35 page)

"Has he done any damage?" said Brody.

"Some. We're riding a little heavy aft. He probably poked a hole in us. It's nothing

to worry about. We'll pump her out."

"That's it, then," Brody said happily.

"What's what?"

"The fish is as good as dead."

"Not quite. Look."

Following the boat, keeping pace, were the two red wooden barrels. They did not bob. Dragged by the great force of the fish, each cut through the water, pushing a wave before it and leaving a wake behind.

"He's chasing us?" said Brody.

Quint nodded.

"Why? He can't still think we're food."

"No. He means to make a fight of it."

For the first time, Brody saw a frown of disquiet on Quint's face. It was not fear,

nor true alarm, but rather a look of uneasy concern --as if, in a game, the rules had been

changed without warning, or the stakes raised. Seeing the change in Quint's mood, Brody was afraid.

"Have you ever had a fish do this before?" he asked.

"Not like this, no. I've had 'em attack the boat, like I told you. But most times,

once you get an iron in 'em, they stop fighting you and fight against that thing stickin'

in

'em."

Brody looked astern. The boat was moving at moderate speed, turning this way and that in response to Quint's random turning of the wheel. Always the barrels kept up with them.

"Fuck it," said Quint. "If it's a fight he wants, it's a fight he'll get." He throttled

down to idling speed, jumped down from the flying bridge and up onto the transom. He picked up the harpoon. Excitement had returned to his face. "Okay, shit-eater!" he file:///C|/My Documents/Mike's Shit/utilities/books/pdf format/Benchley, Peter - Jaws.txt (128 of 131) [1/18/2001 2:02:23 AM]

file:///C|/My Documents/Mike's Shit/utilities/books/pdf format/Benchley, Peter - Jaws.txt called.

"Come and get it!"

The barrels kept coming, plowing through the water --thirty yards away, then twenty-five, then twenty. Brody saw the flat plain of gray pass along the starboard side of the boat, six feet beneath the surface. "He's here!" he cried. "Heading forward."

"Shit!" said Quint, cursing his misjudgment of the length of the ropes. He detached the harpoon dart from the shaft, snapped the twine that held the shaft to a cleat,

hopped down from the transom, and ran forward. When he reached the bow, he bent down and tied the twine to a forward cleat, unlashed a barrel, and slipped its dart onto the

shaft. He stood at the end of the pulpit, harpoon raised.

The fish had already passed out of range. The tail surfaced twenty feet in front of

the boat. The two barrels bumped into the stern almost simultaneously. They bounced once, then rolled off the stern, one on each side, and slid down the sides of the boat. Thirty yards in front of the boat, the fish turned. The head raised out of the water,

then dipped back in. The tail, standing like a sail, began to thrash back and forth.

"Here

he comes!" said Quint.

Brody raced up the ladder to the flying bridge. Just as he got there, he saw Quint

draw his right arm back and rise up on tiptoes.

The fish hit the bow head on, with a noise like a muffled explosion. Quint cast his

iron. It struck the fish atop the head, over the right eye, and it held fast. The rope fed

slowly overboard as the fish backed off.

"Perfect!" said Quint. "Got him in the head that time." There were three barrels in the water now, and they skated across the surface. Then they disappeared.

"God damn!” said Quint. "That's no normal fish that can sound with three irons in him and three barrels to hold him up."

The boat trembled, seeming to rise up, then dropped back. The barrels popped up, two on one side of the boat, one on the other. Then they submerged again. A few seconds later, they reappeared twenty yards from the boat.

"Go below," said Quint, as be readied another harpoon. "See if that prick done us any dirt up forward."

Brody swung down into the cabin. It was dry. He pulled back the threadbare carpet, saw a hatch, and opened it. A stream of water was flowing aft beneath the floor of

the cabin. We're sinking, he told himself, and the memories of his childhood nightmares leaped into his mind. He went topside and said to Quint, "It doesn't look good. There's a lot of water under the cabin floor."

"I better go take a look. Here." Quint handed Brody the harpoon. "If he comes back while I'm below, stick this in him for good measure." He walked aft and went below.

Brody stood on the pulpit, holding the harpoon, and be looked at the floating barrels. They lay practically still in the water, twitching now and then as the fish moved

about below. How do you die? Brody said silently to the fish. He heard an electric motor start.

"No sweat," said Quint, walking forward. He took the harpoon from Brody. "He's banged us up, all right, but the pumps should take care of it. We'll be able to tow him in."

Brody dried his palms on the seat of his pants. "Are you really going to tow him in?"

"I am. When be dies."

"And when will that be?"

"When he's ready."

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file:///C|/My Documents/Mike's Shit/utilities/books/pdf format/Benchley, Peter - Jaws.txt

"And until then?"

"We wait."

Brody looked at his watch. It was eight-thirty.

For three hours they waited, tracking the barrels as they moved, ever more slowly,

on a random path across the surface of the sea. At first they would disappear every ten or

fifteen minutes, resurfacing a few dozen yards away. Then their submergences grew rarer until, by eleven, they had not gone under for nearly an hour. By eleven-thirty, the barrels

were wallowing in the water.

The rain had stopped, and the wind had subsided to a comfortable breeze. The sky was an unbroken sheet of gray.

"What do you think?" said Brody. "Is he dead?"

"I doubt it. But he may be close enough to it for us to throw a rope 'round his tail

and drag him till he drowns."

Quint took a coil of rope from one of the barrels in the bow. He tied one end to an

after cleat. The other end he tied into a noose.

At the foot of the gin pole was an electric winch. Quint switched it on to make sure it was working, then turned it off again. He gunned the engine and moved the boat toward the barrels. He drove slowly, cautiously, prepared to veer away if the fish attacked. But the barrels lay still.

Quint idled the engine when he came alongside the barrels. He reached overboard with a gaff, snagged a rope, and pulled a barrel aboard. He tried to untie the rope from the

barrel, but the knot had been soaked and strained. So he took his knife from the sheath at

his belt and cut the rope. He stabbed the knife into the gunwale, freeing his left hand to

hold the rope, his right to shove the barrel to the deck.

He climbed onto the gunwale, ran the rope through a pulley at the top of the gin pole and down the pole to the winch. He took a few turns around the winch, then flipped the starter switch. As soon as the slack in the rope was taken up, the boat heeled hard to

starboard, dragged down by the weight of the fish.

"Can that winch handle him?" said Brody.

"Seems to be. It'd never haul him out of the water, but I bet it'll bring him up to

us." The winch was turning slowly, humming, taking a full turn every three or four seconds. The rope quivered under the strain, scattering drops of water on Quint's shirt. Suddenly the rope started coming too fast. It fouled on the winch, coiling in snarls. The boat snapped upright.

"Rope break?" said Brody.

"Shit no!" said Quint, and now Brody saw fear in his face. "The sonofabitch is coming up!" He dashed to the controls and threw the engine into forward. But it was too late.

The fish broke water right beside the boat, with a great rushing whoosh of noise. It rose vertically, and in an instant of horror Brody gasped at the size of the body. Towering overhead, it blocked out the light. The pectoral fins hovered like wings, stiff and straight, and as the fish fell forward, they seemed to be reaching out to Brody. The fish landed on the stern of the boat with a shattering crash, driving the boat

beneath the waves. Water poured in over the transom. In seconds, Quint and Brody were standing in water up to their hips.

The fish lay there, its jaw not three feet from Brody's chest. The body twitched, and in the black eye, as big as a baseball, Brody thought he saw his own image reflected.

"God damn your black soul!" screamed Quint. "You sunk my boat!" A barrel floated into the cockpit, the rope writhing like a gathering of worms. Quint grabbed the harpoon dart at the end of the rope and, with his hand, plunged it into the soft white file:///C|/My Documents/Mike's Shit/utilities/books/pdf format/Benchley, Peter - Jaws.txt (130 of 131) [1/18/2001 2:02:23 AM]

file:///C|/My Documents/Mike's Shit/utilities/books/pdf format/Benchley, Peter - Jaws.txt belly

of the fish. Blood poured from the wound and bathed Quint's hands. The boat was sinking. The stern was completely submerged, and the bow was rising.

The fish rolled off the stern and slid beneath the waves. The rope, attached to the

dart Quint had stuck into the fish, followed.

Suddenly, Quint lost his footing and fell backward into the water. "The knife!" he

cried, lifting his left leg above the surface, and Brody saw the rope coiled around Quint's

foot.

Brody looked to the starboard gunwale. The knife was there, embedded in the wood. He lunged for it, wrenched it free, and turned back, struggling to run in the deepening water. He could not move fast enough. He watched in helpless terror as Quint, reaching toward him with grasping fingers, eyes wide and pleading, was pulled slowly down into the dark water.

For a moment there was silence, except for the sucking sound of the boat slipping gradually down; The water was up to Brody's shoulders, and he clung desperately to the gin pole. A seat cushion popped to the surface next to him, and Brody grabbed it. ("They'd hold you up all right," Brody remembered Hendricks saying, "if you were an eight-year-old boy.")

Brody saw the tail and dorsal fin break the surface twenty yards away. The tail waved once left, once right, and the dorsal fin moved closer. "Get away, damn you!" Brody yelled.

The fish kept coming, barely moving, closing in. The barrels and skeins of rope trailed behind. The gin pole went under, and Brody let go of it. He tried to kick over to the bow of the boat, which was almost vertical now. Before he could reach it, the bow raised even higher, then quickly and soundlessly slid beneath the surface. Brody clutched the cushion, and he found that by holding it in front of him, his forearms across it, and by kicking constantly, he could stay afloat without exhausting himself.

The fish came closer. It was only a few feet away, and Brody could see the conical snout. He screamed, an ejaculation of hopelessness, and closed his eyes, waiting for an agony he could not imagine.

Nothing happened. He opened his eyes. The fish was nearly touching him, only a foot or two away, but it had stopped. And then, as Brody watched, the steel-gray body began to recede downward into the gloom. It seemed to fall away, an apparition evanescing into darkness.

Brody put his face into the water and opened his eyes. Through the stinging saltwater mist he saw the fish sink in a slow and graceful spiral, trailing behind it the body of Quint --arms out to the sides, head thrown back, mouth open in mute protest. The fish faded from view. But, kept from sinking into the deep by the bobbing barrels, it stopped somewhere beyond the reach of light, and Quint's body hung suspended; a shadow twirling slowly in the twilight. Brody watched until his lungs ached for air. He raised his head, cleared his eyes, and sighted in the distance the black point of the water

tower. Then he began to kick toward shore.

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