By Casandra Andrews/The Press-Register
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Four days after an alligator chomped down on the meaty part of his hand, pastor Kevin Brouillette sat in his office in Irvington Monday, explaining how it happened.
The son of a game warden in south Louisiana, Brouillette grew up down the road from a bayou packed with alligators in Avoyelles Parish. It wasn’t unusual during his childhood for his father to bring home baby gators and even a bear or two.
Last Friday, while visiting his parents and sister in Forest, Miss., east of Jackson, Brouillette received a call from his nephew — who is 23 and fearless, he said — asking him and his 84-year-old father to help wrangle a 4-foot-long alligator to some nearby property.
The Brouillette men were on it. Some of the nephew’s friends had trapped the gator while mud riding, tied it to the back of a four-wheeler and taken it home. There, they put it in a swimming pool.
“The mother sees it and begins to panic,” Brouillette said.
She demanded that the boys get rid of it, so they tied it up with a cable, put it in the back of a pickup and took it to the nephew’s home.
Brouillette’s father and nephew went inside to get tape to wrap around the alligator’s snout. Brouillette, meanwhile, decided he would try a trick he’d seen on the television show “Swamp People.”
He stood up on the back bumper of the truck. The gator was facing away from him, he said.
“He was just sitting there, docile,” Brouillette said.
He slowly reached out a finger to stroke the alligator between its eyes from behind.
With no cameras rolling and no witnesses to speak of, the gator snapped its head around and sank its teeth into his hand, in the thick area below his thumb.
“He just flipped over and grabbed me,” the pastor said, gesturing Monday with his bandaged hand.
He’s still a little fuzzy about what happened next.
“I was mesmerized,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think.”
As he struggled to get free, he said, he managed to toss the alligator out of the back of the truck, although it never lost its grip on his hand.
“The gator is dangling from my thumb,” Brouillette said. “Adrenaline took over.”
At this point, Brouillette noticed a man watching from across the street. The man’s mouth gaped open and he raised his own finger to point at the spectacle. He isn’t sure if the neighbor ever yelled for help.
For reasons that the pastor will never know, the gator let go.
“I just finally began to rebuke that thing,” Brouillette said, laughing.
Brouillette said that he hurried across the street to his sister’s daycare center where she washed his wounds and urged him to go to the hospital.
He drove to Walmart instead. There, he found some medical glue that he used to seal some of his skin back together.
By the time he returned to Irvington on Saturday, he sought medical attention for his throbbing, swollen hand. The doctor at an urgent care clinic in Mobile told him that it was the first gator bite he’d seen there.
On Sunday, Brouillette stood before the congregation at First Evangelical Methodist Church in Irvington.
“I said, ‘It’s a good thing he only wanted finger food.’”
His sermon that day was to beware of the tempter.
“He’s always lurking,” Brouillette said. “And when he grabs you, he holds on.”
His family members back in Mississippi set the alligator free.
Said Brouillette: “The gator is alive and well.”