Back in 2020, the website The Daily Jaws ran a short story challenge to write a JAWS themed story, max 1500 words, featuring a character from the Jaws series.
Jaws is my favourite film, so I jumped at the chance to take part, and it was so much fun to write. I chose to tell the events of Jaws from Deputy Hendricks’ perspective. Little did I know that actor Jeffrey Kramer who plays Hendricks in the film was one of the judges!
This story won 3rd prize and turned out to be my very first piece of tie-in writing (albeit unofficial/fan fiction). Anyway, I thought I’d share it here for free. Enjoy!
I’ll never forget the day I found Chrissie Watkins’ body. Last seen entering the ocean for a midnight swim, she hadn’t returned. While Chief Brody interviewed her date, I was tasked with scouring the beach, and that’s when I found her. At least, what was left of her. As soon as I realised what I was looking at, I fumbled for my whistle to alert the Chief, and I blew and blew. I think maybe I was hoping it was a dream and that whistle would wake me up. But it wasn’t a dream. Chrissie’s death marked the start of a summer like none I’d seen before on Amity Island.
To the Chief’s credit, he swung right into action. We dealt with the remains and he got straight onto the police report. I guess he had a stronger stomach than me, because I needed to sit a while and sip some fluid to clear my head. As soon as the cause of death was confirmed as a shark attack, the Chief was asking after our ‘beach closed’ signs. I told him we didn’t have any, so he went right out to buy materials to make some. I wasn’t used to a Chief moving so fast, but this was Brody’s first summer in Amity and I guess he was still working a New York City pace.
There was one problem, though. We were a couple of weeks out from the Fourth of July, a huge weekend for Amity, and the Mayor didn’t want to close the beaches and lose the summer dollars. I was there when the Mayor and the doc convinced the Chief to change Chrissie’s death to a boating accident. I could tell the Chief felt uneasy at first, but the Mayor assured him sharks had never been a problem in our waters. And it was true, they hadn’t.
But that was about to change.
Things took a turn when the Kintner boy disappeared. I say ‘disappeared’ because they never found his body. We all know what happened, though. I wasn’t down the beach that day, but I took enough witness statements afterward. People heard the boy’s scream, saw the splashes, the fins, and they’d seen the blood. Then his torn yellow raft washed ashore. The shark had taken him, and it changed our town forever.
It changed the Chief, too. The guilt seemed to weigh heavily upon him.
I remember the mayhem that followed. Mrs Kintner had advertised a reward for the shark, and people from all over packed Amity’s small harbour in every size boat imaginable, loading up on chum, rods, even explosives. It was great to see people rallying, but from a police standpoint, it was chaos. I didn’t know half the people there, but the Chief expected me to talk sense into them.
We were surprised when Mrs Kintner showed. At first, I thought maybe she wanted to see the boats off, but she just walked right up to the Chief and slapped him. I remember the whole harbor fell silent as everyone watched. Man, I felt for the Chief in that moment. If he’d felt guilty before, he was feeling it tenfold now.
Some fisherman hauled in a monster shark that day and we were pleased as punch about it. I remember posing for a photo with it, grinning as I held up the ‘beach closed’ sign. But the marine biologist, Hooper, who’d arrived that day, quickly discounted the catch, saying its bite radius was too small. I remember thinking it looked pretty big to me.
The next day I saw Brody and Hooper arguing with the Mayor. I didn’t hear what was said exactly as I was busy trying to fix the vandalized Amity welcome sign, but I know they were telling him we still had a shark problem. The previous evening they’d found Ben Gardner’s boat all smashed up, with Ben’s body still inside. He’d never returned from the shark hunt. But the Mayor still wouldn’t budge on closing the beaches.
So, the Fourth of July came, and we did everything we could with extra summer deputies and shark spotters. But while we were busy stopping a couple of kids with a cardboard fin playing a joke on beachgoers, the real shark was over in the lagoon attacking a man. The shark knocked him right out of his boat, along with a bunch of kids in a nearby boat. The Chief’s son, Mike, was among them. Those poor kids watched that man die, then the shark swam right past Mike, sending him to hospital in shock.
After that, the Chief wasn’t taking ‘no’ from the Mayor. That’s when the shark fisherman, Quint, was hired.
Quint was expensive, over three times more than what Mrs Kintner was paying, but we had no choice. Now, I understood Hooper wanting to head out with Quint on the Orca, but I never quite understood why the Chief wanted to go too. He had no sea legs at all. But I guess the close call with his son changed things, and he wanted to end the shark personally.
They’d been gone a day when the Chief’s wife, Ellen, and I visited the Coast Guard to radio the Orca. I remember the communication was odd. Quint answered and he told Ellen they’d only caught a couple of stripers, but he was talking real fast, excited like, and he didn’t put the Chief on at all. I sensed Ellen thought it was odd too. I saw worry in her eyes, but neither of us voiced our thoughts.
The next day, however, I received news that made the worry settle in me too. The Coast Guard advised they’d received contact from Brody, but it cut out before they could respond, and they hadn’t been able to reach the Orca since.
I told them to keep trying, not sure what else to do. I remember driving to the beach and staring at the ocean, wondering what was happening out there. As I did, I noticed a young man walking along the sand. He looked like he was searching for something, and I recalled taking a statement from him the day the Kintner boy disappeared. He’d reported his dog missing, said Pippit went into the water chasing a stick and never came out. I remember watching him, still searching for his missing dog, and my heart felt heavy as I realised the shark had taken it too.
The panic started to build inside me, then, wondering whether the shark had taken the Chief as well, wondering what I would tell Ellen, what I would I tell the Mayor.
I drove along the beach to another lookout, seeking answers, and I came across Ellen’s car. She was parked, staring out to sea, probably asking herself what she was going to tell her kids if Brody didn’t return. I watched her wipe a tear, then drive away.
I checked with the Coast Guard again but there was still no response from the Orca. They asked if I wanted to send out a rescue vessel and I suddenly realised it was my call to make with Chief gone. I remember staring at the horizon and saying: “Where are you, Chief? What the hell should I do?”
I was just about to leave when something caught my eye – something yellow, something splashing in the ocean, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I grabbed my binoculars from the glovebox for a closer look, and I eventually made out two people clinging to a raft of some sort, kicking toward shore.
I lowered my binoculars and cursed, then burst out of my car and ran down the beach, fast as I could. I remember I was so busy keeping my eyes on those yellow barrels, that I tripped over my own feet and fell face first into the sand. But I quickly got up again and raced onward.
I saw two men make it onto the beach, stumbling with exhaustion.
Then I made out their faces.
“Chief?!” I yelled in both surprise and relief, recognising him and Hooper.
They both collapsed onto the sand, panting. I raced up to them, glancing at the makeshift raft, confused, and asked what the hell had happened. Neither could talk, still catching their breath, but by then I realised their raft was made from parts of the Orca.
I asked where Quint was. The Chief looked at me and shook his head solemnly.
I looked back at the waves, terrified. “And the shark?”
I’ll never forget Brody’s tired eyes smiling at mine, as he lay down on the sand. “It’s gone,” he said.
“It’s dead?! You killed it?”
The Chief nodded, then said: “You think you could get us some water, Hendricks?”
I cursed at my oversight, told them to rest, then raced back up the beach.
I remember heading for my radio, bursting with excitement, eager to tell the world:
The Chief is back!
The shark is dead!