The alligator keeps circling closer to us, but David Guest blows off my concern.
“It’s a little one,” he scoffs. “It can’t hurt you.”
With my bare feet in the mud and the gator suddenly sinking out of sight beneath the swampy lake, I consider the source of this “it-can’t-hurt-you” advice and quickly hop back into the boat.
Guest, Earthjustice’s legendary Florida managing attorney, once went into a South Florida swamp to collect key legal evidence and slept on a little low island that, it turned out, was a favorite lounging spot for local alligators. Guest admits he didn’t sleep much, with those alligators bellowing beside him all night.
When he tells this harrowing story, the 60-year-old Guest laughs, his head thrown back and shoulders shaking. His 33-yearlong legal career in Florida has been—and continues to be—a wild adventure.
“We were ecstatic when we won that case,” he says, “but even more thrilled that we hadn’t gotten eaten in the process.”