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ALLIGATOR-KILLER-

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It’s All In The Game
“LICK IT” said Greg Taylor. He wasn’t about to leave the safety of his mobile home, even after being reminded of his Friday, first period calculus class.

((( “POINT BLANK” )))

By Jayne Thompson
Alligator Staff Writer

UF sophomore Gregory Lee Taylor was going to start off the day with a bang.

I intended to shoot him first thing.

While preferring a mutual coexistence of peace and harmony with my classmates, Taylor deserved to be knocked off.

After all, anybody who signs up for a first period calculus class on Friday … and goes deserves it. Besides that, this guy was from Alabama.

In the final days before I staked out his southwest Gainesville home in the wind-whipped darkness, I, a.k.a. “the Shark,” was engrossed by my own thoughts of taunting and badgering Taylor.

Barely a moment passed without my thinking about the sinister plot that I and two equally devious colleagues would mastermind to murder Taylor, a 19-year-old Alpha Delta Pi busboy.

Time was fleeting with every breath I spent. I vainly searched my brainsick thoughts to devise a cunning scheme to kill Taylor before my assassin — the Nightcrawler — took a shot at me.

Gripped by a determination beyond my years, I readied myself to make the best of a strange new life in which I would be obsessed by death, torn by truth and tinged by anticipated pleasure.

After unsuccessfully stalking Taylor by the bicycle racks in front of Weil Hall at about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14, I left for home on my Fuji to study Taylor’s class schedule and black and white Woolworth snapshot.

Minute after minute I sat in unbroken silence. When the shuffling of footsteps aroused my instincts to be on guard, I reached for my Placo Toys dart gun. I was ready for the Nightcrawler. But the footsteps belonged to my roommate, Sally Stewart.

It was 5 o’clock. A pile of chicken bones on my dinner plate was attracting flies.

According to Taylor’s biography sheet, he was either home or studying in the library.

Finding him in Library West would be as frustrating as looking up a magazine article in the third floor stacks, only to discover the pages mutilated by a razor blade.

Like many UF students, Sally and I were cash-short and unable to afford a telephone to call Taylor at home. Never-the-less, we cruised to the nearest phone booth, across the street from Mike’s Bookstore on Second Avenue.

Three rings and there was a male voice on the other end of the line saying,

“Hello?”

“Is Greg there?” I asked.

“Just a minute,” he paused. “Can I take a message?”

“Yes, this is a message from his assassin.”

“Oh, this is his bodyguard. The message?”

“Tell Greg his assassin wishes him good luck at his rugby game tomorrow at Norman Field.”

On Thursday, I cautiously trudged to Taylor’s first period economics class at Bryan Hall, room 120, to give a note to his professor, who would in turn, pass the message (“It would be a shame to break both your legs”) to Taylor.

Too late. The bell had rung.

Since fate, no doubt, would expose my identity should I walk in, I virtually pleaded with a tardy student to act as my cover. He agreed, hesitantly.

Walking across the Plaza of the Americas on my way back to The Alligator, my pace quickened. I began following people I didn’t even know, or cared to know. Instead of looking at my feet, I watched for signs of the Nightcrawler on the prowl.

Safely back inside the office behind Pin Pan Alley and the Old College Inn, reporter David Futch and I devised a scheme to lure Taylor into The Alligator. Futch would interview him about rugby for an article in today’s Homecoming edition.

We were going to set Taylor up.

There was one problem. I had a political science midterm from 12:20 to 1:25 p.m. Would my professor really understand that my priorities weren’t messed up if I asked to take the essay exam at 1:30 that afternoon — right after I zapped Greg?

Paranoia began to grab hold of Taylor. At 28 minutes past high noon, Taylor canceled, promising to call back at 2:30 to reschedule the appointment.

I had 45 extra minutes to review my political science notes.

Taylor reluctantly agreed to come by The Alligator at 4:30 p.m., but he threw the hook once more by calling off the interview, suspecting Futch as his killer.

Futch cussed furiously and contained his anger with an almost visible effort.

D-day — Monday — was approaching, and I was getting desperate. Maybe a clean kill, like an ambush, would be good enough.

Futch and I arranged Thursday to rendezvous at my apartment in southeast Gainesville at about 3:30 a.m. Friday, a time when most honest human beings are sleeping.

Stewart said she would go along “just for the ride.”

With my victim biography sheet and spring-loaded dart gun in hand, we pushed off at 5:30 a.m. to find what we thought was Glynwood Apartments, where Taylor lived with his “bodyguard.” Little did we know, but the night trip had just begun.

His throat tight, Futch needed relief.

Stewart remembered a bottle of 12-year-old Teacher’s Scotch whiskey left in the back seat of a friend’s car after the Eddie Money concert a few weeks ago, but it was nowhere to be found.

Then, Futch assuredly said he knew the precise location of the complex. He described it as quadruple clusters of two-story apartments behind the Veterans Administration Hospital.

What a mistake it was to trust Futch.

Two Snickers bars and a half-tank of gas later, we were getting frustrated.

Nobody at Shands Teaching Hospital knew where it was. We had already driven behind the VA and around P.K. Yonge School, both in the southwest quadrant of Gainesville.

The address seemed simple enough to find: 2407 SW 16th Place. It had to run parallel to Southwest 16th Avenue, 24 blocks west of Main Street.

“I’m getting carsick,” Stewart muttered.

At 6:16 a.m., we decided to buy a map.

Half dazed and a little edgy, we finally stopped at a Majik Market near “Cin City” and called the manager’s office to ask directions.

Persistence payed off. Glynwood Trailer Park, not apartments as Taylor said in his bio sheet, was nestled behind the Mount Vernon Apartments in a tree-shrouded neighborhood.

When we found it, people were actually on their way to work and class. We hadn’t been to bed yet.

Crawling in the dirt and swatting mosquitoes off our craggy faces, we laid in waiting behind a parked car for Taylor to leave for first period.

It was 7:45 a.m. Surely. Taylor wouldn’t want to miss his first period calculus class on Friday. But he did. The plot was foiled.

Determined to at least wake Taylor from sleep, Stewart dropped a quarter in a nearby telephone. She dialed and said, biting back a laugh, “Greg, what about your first period calculus class?”

Taylor hung up.

Ten minutes later, Futch gave it a try.

“Greg, you’re late for first period. You’re missing it,” Futch whispered.

“Lick it!” Taylor snapped back.

By this time, we were holding each other up in utter exhaustion. Little, if anything, was happening inside the trailer, and losing interest and feeling frumpy at best, we entertained several suggestions before deciding to go home and sleep for the day, but not without leaving a Kleenex-stuffed Voodoo doll with one blue ball in his mailbox.

A telephone message from the Rules Committee informed me Saturday morning that Taylor had made an elusive escape for the weekend, which gave me two more days to let him have it.

Tension had begun to build up in my head while banging out episodes of this story Saturday evening. Perhaps an evening bicycle ride would loosen the throbbing knot of pain around my temples.

Suspecting the worst — my death — I turned my chair to get up, grabbed my dart gun, slipped on my red backpack and off I went, guided by the light of a half moon over my shoulders.

Pedaling north on Southeast Seventh Street, then right on Second Avenue and left on Ninth Street, I headed toward University Avenue.

Startled by an exultant shout, someone calling my name, I glanced over my right shoulder and was horror-filled as a man at close range, standing near the curbside entrance to a mini mart, unmercifully pulled the trigger.

It was a terrifying experience. The blue-tipped dart sailed through the air, plugging my butt on the right cheek. What a way to go.

The Nightcrawler, grinning in his glory, shook his head regretfully and said, in a somber tone, “I’m sorry it (your killing) couldn’t have been more exciting.

“Ohhhh,” I moaned, turning my palms face up.

Expelling the last breath of life, I handed the Nightcrawler Taylor’s biography sheet — his next victim — gazed into his sheepish eyes, and said, “Taylor deserves it!”

—30—