Monday, July 25, 2011

Snakes Alive...A Story!

A Show of Strength!
Pierre le Pooch, our sassy, cocker spaniel with a Napoleonic complex, found a four foot cottonmouth coiled under a tree near our front pond. In the eleven years we have been on this property, I have never seen a venomous snake. Therese, my law abiding and always cautious wife, called animal control, but it was after hours when the dog located the snake. I thought animal control could capture the cantankerous creature and milk it to create anti-venom serum, but since they weren't going to show up until tomorrow, I decided to kill it with a shovel. Of course, Therese thought I should call the Sheriff and let them handle it, which I reluctantly did.

What a joke that was.

Two patrol cars and one local police car drove up. With their billie clubs and pistols, walkie talkies, stun guns and all, all three of them, once they confirmed that it was a cottonmouth water moccasin, kept their distance as they discussed for about ten minutes which "implement of destruction" should be used. No one wanted to shoot it with their pistols or with their shot guns. They asked me if I had a gun and when I told them that I didn't, they all looked at me in astonishment.

"You don't own a rifle or shot gun?" Not even a twenty-two?"

"No, I said... I'm from the city! I really don't have a need to own a gun!" They now looked at me even more confused than before. I later found out that it was not in the best interest of law enforcement to have one of their patrolman discharge a weapon on someone's property unless it was really necessary. Still, the scene seemed written for,"The Andy Griffith Show!"

"Well, what'cha need is a ten or twelve gauge shotgun... That would take care of this snake!"

"Yep, that's what'cha need!"

It was getting late as they continued to share"snake stories". Ten foot rattlers, dueling vipers, a fight to the finish, alligators attacked by pythons, deadly baby reptiles killing cattle, you name it, they discussed it. Tiring of all this, and coming to the realization that the heavy armament they brought with them was not going to be deployed, I asked them if a shovel might be the preferred implement for dispatching 'da critter. They agreed. So I quickly ran to the shed and picked out the perfect shovel for the job. Impatient with all of this talk and wanting some action before it got dark, I presented the shovel to the officers, who, I assumed, specialize in such work. Of course, not one of them wanted to do the ugly deed though they all had their suggestions as to how I should do it.

"Gotta get 'em with the first swing else it'll come out and attack you!" Rattlesnakes won't do that, no sir. Neither would a copperhead, but moccasins are mean sonofabitches, man... they'll chase you down!"

"Oh boy, I thought. I better choked up on this handle to be sure I make good contact!" Thoughts of coming up to bat with the game on the line and with men in scoring position just trying to make contact, suddenly came to mind. "Just a clean, quick, short stroke... no home run swing. Just a clean, quick, short stroke!"

"After you kill it, don't touch it!" "Cut off the head and it will still bite you, so be careful!"

I finally bashed it with the edge of the shovel head a couple of times, cut off its head and dropped it into a large black, garbage bag. The snake, even without its head, was heavier than I thought it would be! Tying up the bag, one of the local cops told me about an old wife's tale suggesting that one should, after killing it, completely douse the nasty creature with lighter fluid and set it ablaze. Somehow, it creates a hex which would keep all other snakes away from the property... for good! It must be one of those voodoo kind of snake phobias, I thought.

"They hate the smell of burnt scales... in the morning!"


Naturally, after making jokes about snakes tasting just like chicken, they drove off saying, "Be careful around the pond... you see one snake, you'll see more, especially if you ain't gonna take the advice and burn it."

Well, it has been over a year, and even though I have seen other snakes on the property, I haven't seen any more vipers. Still, I tread lightly whenever I go for walks with my trusty Pierre in the lead.

And I thought poison ivy was the only thing I needed to fear in my own back yard! C'est la vie!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

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