The Eighth Page

The Adventures of Otter Man

I guess it all started on that hazy day in July of ’78. I was down in Baton Rouge doing some business that we’ll just call “illegitimate.” I didn’t like the job, but someone’s gotta pay the Bills. The Bills are my accountant, Bill White, my publicist, Bill Jones, and my proctologist, Bill Prescalante. I should’ve known something was fishy about this job—perhaps it was my nerves, but I knew I couldn’t listen to those things. I know nowadays that nerves are about as useful as a two-week-old can of Progresso’s Chicken and Stars soup. I went ahead with the mission—if I didn’t buy those illegally imported sea otters for distribution in the United States, then someone else would. And if that happened I didn’t know what the Bills would do to me. It was time for me to close the deal. I entered the musty warehouse and met with well-known sea otter dealer, Timmy “The Well Known Sea Otter Dealer” Smits. He was 1/2 Czech, 1/2 Lithuanian, and all business. He asked me if I had the cash, and I pulled out six crisp five-dollar bills. (The sea otter market was down that year.) He handed me four otters, and threw in a couple seals to “seal” the deal. (Haha get it? Seals? “Seal” the deal? Oh I am too much.) I placed the aquatic contraband in my bag, and was cautiously making my exit. And that was when my life changed forever. A young sea otter, Dennis Otter (known to his friends as “The Big Hurt,”) leapt out of my otter satchel with speed that is usually reserved for hung-over women leaving my house in the morning. He strapped onto my neck and bit me with the ferocity that is usually reserved for hung-over women who find themselves in bed with me in the morning. I looked to Timmy Smits for help, but he was long gone, off to cut another deal to put more members of this playful keystone species on the black market. Dennis Otter was gone too, undoubtedly laying the big hurt on another unsuspecting member of the public. It was at this point where my memory gets foggy. I woke up 38 hours later in a garbage truck in Boise, Idaho. I don’t know how I got there—and I don’t think I want to know. What had happened to me? I felt a sudden urge to swim and felt an unbelievable hunger for kelp. Had this sea otter bite somehow affected my DNA, and turned me into an unstoppable sea otter force that would protect the innocent of Gotham City, all the while maintaining an alter ego as playboy/millionaire/newspaperman/wimpy photographer/professor of a school for “gifted children”? Perhaps it was time for my adventures to begin. I began training for my new role as society’s protector. I swam for eight hours a day and spent many hours designing my new costume, which was kind of a Batman meets Shamu type of thing, if that makes any sort of sense. I began working on my combat moves—the dive and burrow, the flipper slap, and the highly effective hold the breath for a long time maneuver. It was time for me to fill my role in society. Before I began my long life of protecting and serving, I decided to go to a doctor and have him detect any more special powers I might have had. After three days of fierce testing the doctor determined I had a raging case of rabies and mild schizophrenia. Oh well, Otter Man will return one day.