November 7 – Snakes alive!


       “Old sneaky “B” is out early this morning.”  The Geezer pointed to what looked like a 5′ piece of black hose lying next to the seawall.  As I watched, it moved ever so slightly.  My nose told me before my eyes did.  It was the Black Racer that lived in the Bougainvillea bushes that separated our yard from our neighbors.  The snake’s head rose a few inches to survey it’s surroundings, including a disdainful glance at the two of us.  It was headed for the thick thorny vines and the safety they provided.  I scrambled to all fours, my fur standing on end as I did so.  Like most warm blooded creatures, I distrust and loathe snakes.
       “Relax, Sandy.”  The Geezer gently grabbed hold of my collar.  “That little old snake won’t hurt you.  Besides he’s headed into the bushes.”  On queue the shiny black “rope” slithered silently into the green leaves and needle covered branches camouflaged by the lavender flowers.  “Calm down.  All you’d accomplish if you chased old sneaky “B” into the bushes is to turn your nose into a pin cushion.”  The last of the snake’s tail disappeared as he spoke.
       “Those things give me the creeps!”  I shivered as I stood at rigid attention.  “I wonder where he came from?”
       “Probably from those cluster palms.”  The Geezer Gator waved his hand at a row of greenery that marked the other lot line.  “I heard a couple mocking birds scolding something over there when we first walked down to the dock.”
       I looked at the palms, remembered where I’d heard the birds raising hell, and traced a path from that spot to where I saw the snake disappear.  The route meant sneaky “B” would have passed a few  inches behind us.  “Gosh, Geezer, that snake probably crawled past close enough to touch.”  I shook like I’d just been sprayed with water.
       “Settle down girl.”  The Geezer stroked my head and pulled me close to him.  “That snake isn’t wanting to hurt you or me.  He was just looking for breakfast.  Being quiet and unnoticed is the way he survives.” 
       “I don’t care, I hate the slinky things.  They scare the shi…well, they scare me every time I come across one unexpectedly.”
       “You aren’t alone.  They sure terrify Mrs. Gator.  Fact is, most people don’t feel comfortable around them.”  The old boy pointed to small lizard, a sparrow hanging on a branch, and a tree frog.  “Those little guys have the most to fear from old sneaky “B” but they don’t know it.  By the time they realize he’s after them, they’re generally in his coils with his teeth are sunk into part of them.”
       At this point the Geezer normally would tell a yarn about snakes.  I cocked my head and looked at him from the side of my eyes.  He looked back mimicking my actions.  “Well?” I prompted with feigned resigned disgust.
       “What type…water?…oil?…artesian?”  I hate it when he tries to be a smart ass.
       “The stories.  I know they’re coming.  I’d just as soon get them over with.”  The old boy’s face clouded.  I’d hurt his feelings.  I put my head under his hand and raised gently.  I said, “Okay, okay, you’re going to make me say it.  I want to hear your tales.”
       The Geezer smiled.  “You know snakes tend to show up when you least expect them.  They sort of catch you with your pants down.  Matter of fact, I’ve got 3 stories about that.” 
       I laid down on the seawall and rested my head on his thigh.  As I focused my eyes up at him I asked, “Figuratively or literally?”
       “Literally.”
       That made me suspicious.  “This isn’t going to be potty stuff is it?  You know I have a limited appreciation for that.  And please make them the short versions.”
       “Very little potty stuff, Sandy, even though it’s about being caught less than clothed.  In fact, the first two tell how snakes can make beavers appear.”  The old boy had that sly “I gotcha” smirk.
       I sighed, “Proceed, Geezer.”
       “Back a long time ago three couples went on a camping trip.  It was a roughing it, tent out.  No johns.  No showers.”
       I asked, “Were you and Mrs. G one of the couples?”  When he mumbled, “Don’t interrupt,” I knew it was BG, before Mrs. Geezer.
       “Where was I?  Oh yes, no showers.  Anyway, one of the girls was pure city.  From New York.  Her boyfriend insisted we set up some type of shower and latrine so we wrapped a couple tarps around some saplings and fixed it so the ladies could get in and out and have privacy when they did their thing.  It was one of those trips where you learn something; never go camping with folks you don’t know well.  The girl from New York owned everything and had done everything “better and bigger” than our small town and country Florida gals had.  She continually told them they couldn’t understand this fashion or that gourmet restaurant.  The two “hicks” seethed and fumed, but held their tongues and tempers.  All most.  The girls took turns standing outside the tarp shower and slowly dumped water over their sister bathing inside.  The last morning, while that debutante from New York was cleaning up, there was a blood curdling scream.  The city girl emerged from the shower with one hand grasping her pet beaver, the other covering one of her miniature boobs, her only attire a frightened pine snake that adorned her neck and shoulder.  She shed that a third of the way back to her tent.” 
       “That kind of freak accident would terrify anyone.”  I still had to snicker at the visual I had.
       “Wasn’t an accident, Sandy.  When I went over to see if my lady was okay.  She was laughing.  The first thing she did was pick a branch up from the ground, hold it over the tarp enclosed shower, and drop it.  She said, “I just wanted all you men to see that not everything is bigger and better in New York.  Of course, it looks like you could navigate the Queen Mary between those hips of hers.’  My friend stood erect, thrusting her C cups outward as she marched proudly to the tent while whistling Dixie.”
       I laughed.  “That was good but long.”
       “The other two stories are shorter.  You know how you can make a rabbit appear in front of a crowd of people?”
       “Pull it out of a hat,” I said.
       “Very good, Sandy.  Now, how can you make three beavers appear before a crowd.  They’re too big to fit in a hat.”
       “I…don’t…know,” I said, pronouncing my straight line rhythmically.
       “Send three women into a lakeside dressing room to change into bathing suits with a water snake lurking in one of the toilets.  Those beavers will appear before a cheering throng.”
       “Really, Gator?”  I could see three naked screaming high stepping women charging through the bathhouse door with muffs blowing in the breeze.
       “Yep.  Two browns and a black.”
       “That’s two and no potty stuff.  The third ones got to be.”
       “Sort of,” the Geezer admitted. 
       “Go ahead,” I said, faking disgust.
       “I was on a quail hunting trip.  It was one of those foggy mornings where everything’s wet and silent.  The birds weren’t moving from their roosts and our dogs weren’t anxious to find them.  Chasing pointers that were determined not to point and bouncing along in the Jeep eventually percolated enough of my morning coffee into my bladder to demand it be released.  I asked my buddy to stop so I could oblige my water works.  Habit programed me to grab my shotgun as I climbed from the vehicle and habit, not modesty, made me shuffle over to some gall berry and palmetto bushes.  I snuggled up to them as my friend turned off the engine.  The dead silence spoke loudly of some ominous happening.  As I fumbled around and began to relieve myself, a familiar scary sound “Buzzzzed” at my feet.  I looked down at my snake boots.  I know your aversion to all things potty, but there aren’t many ways to say this; I was peeing on a five foot rattlesnake coiled a foot in front of me.”
       “Damn, Geezer.  What did you do?”
       “I eased the shotgun around, aimed it at the snake’s head, and prepared to pull the trigger.  Sandy, I was scared to death.”
       “Were you afraid he’d strike you above your boots?”
       “No.”  The Geezer grinned.  “I was scared of having one of those shorter versions we were talking about.”

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