by Carl Hiaasen
How It All Goes Down
Wahoo Cray and his dad, Mickey, take care of wild animals from the Florida Everglades. They keep the animals in their own backyard, and make money by training them to appear on television. Mickey hasn't been working due to a concussion from a dead iguana that fell from a tree and hit him on the head.
Wahoo picks up a lot of the slack when it comes to taking care of all their animals, and agrees to take a job renting out animals for a reality TV show called Expedition Survival! The star of the show, Derek Badger, has been living it up in Paris but flies in to Florida for an Everglades episode.
At the Cray's, Derek tries to get a huge snapping turtle to open its mouth but gets his nose nipped in the process. Then he ignorantly attempts to wrestle a giant python, Beulah, but gets attacked by Mickey instead. For his next trick, Derek ticks off Alice (the twelve-foot long alligator) by mounting her like a bull. Her response? She takes him for a ride under water. Raven—Derek's assistant—takes a gun from Mickey to shoot Alice, only to discover that Mickey never loaded the gun in the first place (clever, clever). Mickey rescues Derek and quits the job, but when Derek recovers from his shock and watches the video of his near death experience with Alice, he decides that instead of staging the rest of the show with trained animals—like he usually does—he wants to do it all "real" in the Everglades, and hires Mickey and Wahoo to catch some dangerous animals to film him with.
Raven puts 110% of her energy into her job, making sure Derek gets whatever he wants and doesn't die in the process. Phew, it makes us tired out just thinking about what a handful this guy is.
Along the way, Wahoo meets Tuna, a girl from school who is beaten by her drunken dad, Jared Gordon. With bravery, she decides to run away with Wahoo and Mickey to the Everglades while they wrangle animals for Derek's show. In the wild, Derek tries to eat a bat, which bites his tongue pretty badly, landing him in his tent alone with a fever from an infection. He thinks he is turning into a vampire, so he runs away; Raven freaks out and has everyone on high alert. Come on, no one really thinks Derek could survive on his own in the wild (well, except for millions of unsuspecting fans).
Tuna calls her dad to tell him she isn't coming home and he notices the caller ID phone number is from a tourist shack. Unfortunately, he drives over drunk to look for her. With a gun. What a wacko.
While everyone is looking for the lost Derek, Jared Gordon comes around waving his gun all cowboy style and shoots an airboat driver taking Tuna and Wahoo away. Then Jared kidnaps Mickey to drive around and search for Tuna with him. Jared ends up finding Tuna, shooting Mickey in the foot, and finally getting attacked by Derek who bites him wildly because, you know, he thinks he might be a vampire. Finally Jared gets arrested, everyone is unharmed and happy at the end except for Derek, who is rarely happy anyway.