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Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Snake  

I cannot hit the proverbial barn with a pistol, so the only reason we even have one (a pistol; we don't have a barn) is because Father-in-law, upon expiration, left one to Brother-in-law, who then gave it to Wife. Oh, and by the way, I don't too much like snakes.

I am reading Iraqi blogs, Zeyad and the gang, one morning when I hear a commotion outside. Now, being fairly isolated, we get visits from various critters from time to time, but the possum is the only one who occasionally comes up on the back porch in search of a handout, and he only visits at night. So I tear myself away from the computer and go peep out of the kitchen window, which has no screen (I took it out a while back to fix a leak and never replaced it). Wife has decided that we must require the critters who visit to pose for a picture, so I dare not miss an opportunity.

I look around and don't see anything in the back yard, which is about a yard wide (I guess that's why it's called a "yard"), so I am in the process of extracting my head from the great outdoors when movement on the handrail of the back porch steps catches one of my eyeballs. I crank my noggin around in the direction of the movement in order to visit my full eyeball power (such as it is) upon the perpetrator, and I find myself eyeballs to eyeball with a snake. The snake has climbed up on the handrail (knocking a charcoal lighter to the floor in the process - the racket I'd heard), and he is sunning himself on Wife's rug, which she has hung on this particular handrail to air out (did I mention that I don't like snakes?). I manage not to spazz out (my spazz reflex seems to have slowed down somewhat as the decades have flown by), and I dislike killing anything which does not present me with a compelling reason for doing so, so I fetch Daughter's BB pistol in hopes of pinging the snake and convincing him to crawl back into the woods from whence he (hopefully) came. (The snake, by the way, is what we call a "black racer" around these parts. These critters are not only fast, they are very aggressive, and they have dispositions worse than mine!)

So I cock Daughter's BB pistol, lean out of the kitchen window (holding on to the window frame with one hand and brandishing Daughter's BB pistol in the other), and shoot at the snake. And miss. Since Daughter's BB pistol requires two hands to cock, I discover that it is necessary for me to climb back inside. I do so, cock pistol, lean out of kitchen window, and shoot at the snake again. With the same results. I repeat this several times, never cutting a hair on the snake, but pinging hell out of the pumphouse a few feet behind him. By now I am worn out from leaning in and out of the window, so the snake and I are just staring at each other. We glare at each other for a few minutes, and then that bastard has the audacity to stick his tongue out at me! If he'd had hands, he probably would have stuck his thumbs in his ears (if he'd had ears) and waggled his fingers at me! But what really gets my attention is that, apparently becoming bored with our little game, he starts to move. But he is not moving toward the woods; no, he is heading toward the back door! So now, as if sticking his tongue out at me was not already sufficient reason to do so, he makes me feel compelled to kill him.

I place Daughter's BB gun on the kitchen table and fetch Wife's pistol, which is a single-action six-shooter like those used in the westerns on TV. This means that you have to cock the hammer with your thumb, then pull the trigger in order to fire a shot. Since I have no desire to shoot up the pumphouse with a real pistol, nor do I wish to fling open the back door and find myself in a foot-to-nose encounter with a black racer (which would probably result in me blasting my foot rather than the racer's nose), I grab my walking cane and head out the front door. I creep stealthily around the house and discover that the snake had only been shifting position, as he is still on the handrail, just heading in the opposite direction. I look at Wife's six-shooter, then remember that the snake has compelled me to kill him by sticking his tongue out at me. So I cock Wife's six-shooter, take careful aim - and shoot a hole in Wife's rug underneath the snake. I try again, and this time don't even hit the rug! By now the snake is tired of playing with me, so he starts crawling leisurely off the handrail - toward the house. I drop Wife's pistol and take a whack at the snake with my cane. Realizing that he might now, for the first time, actually be in danger, the snake shifts into high gear (have I mentioned that these critters are fast?). But instead of racing off into the woods, this fool scoots down the steps and under the house. I am momentarily concerned, then it occurs to me that, as fast as he was moving, he might have come out the other side. So I retrieve Wife's six-shooter and sneak around to the front of the house. And sure enough, there lies the enemy (as I now affectionately think of him). I lean my cane against the house and cock Wife's six-shooter - at which point my cane falls, making a hellacious racket and scaring the bejeezus out of me. I somehow manage not to shoot my cane (probably wouldn't have hit it anyway) or myself. I glance at my enemy, who has been observing all of this, and he sticks his damn tongue out at me again!

Now, having been a fan of Gunsmoke for years (I still watch it on The Western Channel every morning), I have more than once observed Matt Dillon fire his six-shooter ten or nine times without having to reload, so I was not concerned that I had already fired Wife's six-shooter three or two times. I also recollected, from watching Wyatt Earp, that it was possible for one to whip out his six-shooter and hold it firmly (but gently) in his right hand while stroking it rapidly with his left hand (stay focused, now!), resulting in a barrage of bullets akin to an AK-47. So, since the enemy has persisted in taunting me by sticking out his tongue, I decide to Earp him. (I figured he might get scared and crawl into the path of a bullet.)

I almost immediately learn two things:

First, Earping is not as easy as Wyatt makes it seem. Although I have Wife's six-shooter pointed in the general direction of the snake, the first time I swat at the hammer, I knock it off target and almost shoot the front tire on Wife's Lumina, which is nowhere near the snake.

The second thing is : Wife's six-shooter will only shoot six times without reloading.

Luckily, the final shot hits close enough to fling dirt on my enemy. But do you think he would crawl off into the woods in front of the house? No. He turns around and crawls back under the house. I grab my cane and rush (and I use the term loosely; the difference in my velocity when "rushing" and when "creeping stealthily" is barely discernable) to the back of the house, but I do not see my enemy again.

Hopefully, he kept going this time also, and wound up in the woods behind the house. If he got inside, he has been an excellent guest, being quiet and keeping to himself. Wife is considering getting a new pet anyway (since Dog and I are both getting on in years), and she is currently leaning toward a mongoose (Wife doesn't like snakes any more than I do, and Wife requires far less compelling than I do to kill things which she doesn't like!).