May 6, 2012: blood, sweat, and smoked serpent

Well, I just finished washing snake blood off of my barbecue tongs. No, I didn’t get to eat any. No, you can’t have any either. I’m saving it for the squirrel. Lemme ‘splain.

I had high hopes of burning off the next two-and-a-half piles of wood yesterday (see post:  “Completely Undone”), but after multiple tries by both me and my wife, my arms were getting sore from fanning the flames with a kid’s table top and nothing else was getting done. So I had decided to just go get all the rest of the branches and pile them up for my next attempted burn when my wife screamed in that horror-film way, so I came running. She said there was a snake on our deck, a big one.

I ran and grabbed the hoe and made it to the deck in time to see the four-foot monster trying to make an escape off the far side. I took a shot with the hoe, injuring its tail, and made a futile attempt to hold it down while looking for its head. It escaped over the edge, so I went down under our 2nd-story deck to hunt for it. I hunted carefully, because…call me cautious…I didn’t want it to land on my head without telling me first. Actually, not at all, because if it did, I would either dance like a drunk man struck by lightning in my attempts to get it off, or I would aim a hard shot to my head with the hoe. I didn’t like either option.

After several minutes of fruitless hunting and speculating, we brought the kids out to the deck to show them where to be careful in future. I thought it was gone, my wife thought it was in one of the pillars supporting the deck, and my kids knew it would be in their heads for awhile. I checked the basement, the house, and the underside of the deck again, to no avail. And then, when I was almost ready to give up and go back to not burning wood, God directed my eyes to a crevice in the pillar of stones, just below the deck. And there it was.

I got my step ladder and a spade, sort of a flattened hoe on a stick, and my machete. I poked at the varmint in the crevice, and got no reaction. I managed to get his tail out, and pulled on it with my barbecue tongs, and still nothing. I had my wife poke at it while I waited on the deck with the hoe in the hopes it would try to escape. Still nothing. I sent my wife to the basement to get my pliers so I could get a better grip on the tail, and it turned out good for her that I did. She missed the snake battle, although she experienced an adrenaline thrill when one of our ducks suddenly squawked at her from under the deck stairs. We all heard her scream. I don’t know; it’s like she was already nervous, or something.

While she was gone, I kept yanking and poking, and then the snake reared its ugly head out the top of the pillar towards the deck the pillar supported. I took a swipe with my machete left-handed and took a chunk out of…the deck. Nuts. I kept yanking and he kept resisting, finally deciding it was better to fight his way out than hope I would let him lie. He was right, but not for him.

He reared back and struck at me. Thankfully, only about a foot of him was able to reach out of the top of the pillar, so I wasn’t really in danger, but tell that to my adrenaline. My wife and Mom aren’t buying it, either. As he struck, I struck back with the machete, still in my left hand, and not hitting it very well. I shifted to my right hand, and I guess I dropped the tongs. Things are a little fuzzy there, but the critter tried to crawl back down the pillar to the crevice where some of its body still was, and I saw my chance. I struck…and I knew I had won. I let out an adrenaline-charged whoop of victory, and my wife came running because she thought one of our kids was in danger. I don’t know – you’d think she was nervous, or something.

The snake’s head and about four inches of neck dangled by the skin from the rest of the body, part of which was sticking out of the bottom of the crevice, part was sticking out of the top of the same crevice, and part of which was still coiled up inside the crevice. After it stopped twitching, I managed to get all of it out and measure it, but it wasn’t easy. It felt like the body had a mind of its own, even without a brain. It reminded me of another critter on my kill-on-sight list: red wasps, who can sting repeatedly even after they die. It’s just not right.

We brought the kids out to see that it was, indeed, dead, and that we didn’t have to worry any more. We also brought the neighbor’s daughter over for the spectacle. And then she stayed to lunch and played and the kids all had a great time. Me and my wife…well, let’s just say we had to take some deep breaths and lean on the trees for support, kind of like we do after an Insanity workout, but with less sweat. And we definitely don’t use snakes in our workouts.

Since it was the first kill for my machete, I decided to name the weapon. Biter and Beater from LOTR came to mind, but my wife had a better name: the Asp-kicker. So dubbed, it was promptly cleaned, but it took until today to scrub the barbecue tongs. My wife insisted that I do it. I don’t know; it’s like she’s disgusted, or something.

Well, for those of you who still remember the title of this article, I decided to nail the body and severed serpent’s head on the tree that shades the east side of our yard. It’s out of the way, so nobody has to see it unless they want to, and the kids can’t reach it. But it might may a certain duck-chow-eating squirrel think twice before venturing into the yard where the Manly Man prowls. The Manly Man wields a blade with precision; the Manly Man drowns rodents; the Manly Man can start a…well, not yet, he can’t, but just wait ’til next week. He might even learn to shoot a gun left-handed, just so it won’t be over doo quickly, and he gan be sateesfied, like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. “You scared my wife and kids: prepare to die…and become squirrel repellant!”

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One Response to May 6, 2012: blood, sweat, and smoked serpent

  1. John Thorpe says:

    Ah, James, you make me laugh! Manly Man needs to use a leaf-blower on the bonfire.

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