Mark Johnson remembers his attacker in vivid detail. "He had green eyes," he says. "The teeth were pearly white, no stain or anything." Now, the Florida artist wants to paint the perp—an 8-foot-long alligator that mauled him earlier this month. The attack in Port St. Lucie took place on Sept. 13 while Johnson was taking his dog, Rex, on a morning walk on the shoreline of the canal in his neighborhood. Suddenly, the gator emerged. "He started clamping down really good above my knee, and my shoe was sticking out the base of his jaw," Johnson, 61, tells Patch.com, adding that there was no makeshift weapon, like a stick or rock, he could use to get the gator off him. Afraid the aggressive reptile might go after Rex, Johnson gave his dog the command to run home, then scrambled to try to break the gator's grip.
Johnson, who believes he was seconds away from being dragged into the water, finally broke free by jamming his fingers into the gator's eyes, causing the animal to release him. An injured Johnson hobbled home, and when his wife—who'd been enjoying a cup of coffee outside and saw the creature swimming in the canal—spotted him coming down the road, she yelled out, "Did you see the gator?" Johnson's reply: "Yeah, he bit me." He ended up with about five dozen stitches for his puncture wounds on his leg, plus another five on his finger, which he sliced while sticking it in the gator's eye socket, per WJXT. Now Johnson has a 30-by-40 canvas on order, which he plans on turning into a "self-portrait" documenting his ordeal, per the Guardian. He's not sure if he'll keep it as a reminder or sell it. (Read more alligator stories.)