By Donald Sullivan
Before I tell you about the rattlesnake, maybe I should warn you that I have a reputation for sometimes stretching the truth. I’ll admit that I do stretch the truth now and then, but who doesn’t?
But I suppose that I acquired that undeserved reputation simply because things happen to me that don’t ordinarily happen to the average guy. Like, for example, meeting the invisible man.
When I tell people that I met the invisible man, they scoff. But it’s the truth, and I took a picture of him to prove it. But to show you how skeptical people can be, many don’t believe me even when I show them the picture.
They also don’t believe me when I tell them I once worked for a carnival. The sign over my tent read: MAN EATING CHICKEN. People paid to see me eating chicken.
But let me tell you about that snake. It was the biggest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen in my life. It was at least as big as a python, maybe bigger.
I saw the snake when I was hauling a load of used doughnut holes in my pickup to the macaroni factory in Middleton. I’m a card carrying conservationist and recycling nut, so I save all my doughnut holes and take them to the macaroni factory, where they use them to stuff macaroni.
I knew a shortcut through the woods to the factory, and while wrestling my pickup over the unpaved road, I sawsomething blocking the road ahead. At first I thought it was a big log, but when I got closer I saw that it was a monster rattlesnake. The granddaddy of all rattlesnakes.
I was scared, and I’m known as a pretty tough guy that doesn’t scare easily. Once, while prospecting in the Klondike, I lost all my shaving gear. To illustrate how tough I am, I didn’t need a razor--I simply hammered my whiskers in and chewed them off from the inside.
There was only one guy in the entire Klondike who was meaner and tougher than me. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you his name, because his name is so difficult it can’t be spelled with the letters of the ordinary alphabet. His name was nearly unpronounceable. So much so, in fact, that it took four people to pronounce his name. Once, some fool tried to pronounce his name single-handedly; he ended up with his tongue in a cast for two weeks.
Speaking of the Klondike, it was really cold up there. I mean really cold. During the winter, when we talked our words froze as they left our lips. We had to wait until the spring thaw to find out what we were talking about.
But getting back to the rattlesnake. The thing became aware of me and turned its huge, hideous head in my direction. Like I said, I don’t scare easily, but that thing scared the pure bejabbers out of me. I slammed my pickup in reverse and floored the gas petal. But all I succeeded in doing was spinning the wheels and getting stuck in the soft sand.
The monster snake started gliding toward me. The window on the driver’s side of the pickup was broken, and the truck was not safe. I glanced through the rear window and among all the doughnut holes I spotted a baseball bat. I jumped from the cab, leapt into the bed of the pickup, and grabbed the bat to defend myself. I spilled some of the doughnut holes on the ground, but I wasn’t thinking of recycling in a situation like that.
When the snake reared its head, it was eye-to-eye with me, even though I was standing in the back of the pickup. At the same time I swung the bat, the rattler struck. Luckily, it struck the bat. But the force of the strike knocked the bat from my hands, nearly breaking my arm. I jumped from the pickup and ran.
I was really scared. I ran so fast that my ankles scorched my socks. But I put some distance between me and that snake.
I waited until I figured the monster had crawled away, then cautiously made my way back to the pickup. The snake was gone, but the bat was swelling up from the snakebite. It didn’t stop swelling until it was as big as a large oak tree.
Being a conservationist, I had the sawmill cut my bat into lumber, and used the lumber to add an extra room onto my house.
It was a beautiful job. The bat really made some fine looking lumber, and I was proud of the job I’d done on the extra room. But alas, after a few days passed, the swelling went down, and I was left with nothing but a bunch of toothpicks. And that’s the truth.
© Copyright 2016 Donald H Sullivan. All rights reserved.