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“Snake-Popping” An excerpt from “A Good Place.”

My favorite current passage from A Good Place.

I read the following story to a Sr. Adult group earlier in the week.  One lady laughed so hard I thought we were going to have to do the Heimlich Maneuver on her.

Here is it for you to read, enjoy, and laugh.

Author’s note:  Mayo Moore, preteen son of Joe and Eliza narrates the entire book.  This is his story of the snake-popping.

About a week later, I learned an important lesson. It resulted in the worst
whipping of my life.

It all started with our new corncrib.

Now, my daddy, who’d grown up in snakeless Ireland, was
scared to death of snakes—not just poisonous ones—but all
snakes. I believe a foot-long garter snake put the same fear of the
Lord in him as a huge timber rattler.

He loved telling the story of St. Patrick tossing Ireland’s
snakes off the mountain near his hometown, and laughing as he
added, “All of the snakes tossed out of Ireland by the saint landed
here in Louisiana.”

I didn’t inherit that fear of snakes; in fact, I’ve always been
fascinated with them. I grew up in a world where boys caught
snakes. Now I wasn’t stupid—I was careful with copperheads or
cottonmouths, but I wasn’t one bit afraid of the harmless ones
making up most of our snake population.

I’d learned a great deal about snakes from my Uncle Eli. He
was fearless with them and taught me both how to identify and
handle them.

Among his varied talents was one I admired the most: snake-popping.

He’d catch a snake by the tail—most often a chicken snake—andpop the snake like a whip. If snapped
with enough force and a tight enough grip on the tail, the snake’s
head would pop right off.

It was an impressive sight. Eli taught me how to do it, and I
was rightfully proud of my newfound skill.

On this fateful day, I was cleaning out the old corncrib and
unearthed a three-foot-long chicken snake under the corn shucks.
In spite of its normal diet of rats, which we detested, it had a
bigger appetite for chicken eggs and biddies, so anytime we found
one on our place, we killed it.

Since it was winter, the snake was sluggish and easily caught.
Just as I left the crib, holding the snake with both hands, was
when fate took over. My Irish daddy came around the barn
whistling, carrying a pail of milk in his hand. I thought this
was the perfect time to show him my new snake-popping skill,
figuring he’d be properly impressed with my brave action.

Laying the chicken snake on the ground, I grasped its tail, and
with a mighty whipping action, propelled the snake in an arc. . .
And that’s when trouble started. I didn’t have as good a grip
as I should’ve, and my whipping motion didn’t result in the head
popping off—rather it caused the entire chicken snake to fly out
of my hands.

In horror, I watched it fly through the air straight for Daddy,
who stood frozen with his mouth open. The snake twirled in a
long arc like a stretched rubber band, and its downward path
landed on Daddy, wrapping itself around his leg.
Momma, who was on the porch and saw it all, later
commented, “My man Joe ‘got religion’ when that snake wrapped
around his leg.”

The bucket of milk was the first casualty—flying upward ten
feet before coming back to earth, milk spilling in every direction.
But, that wasn’t the end of the flying—Daddy got ahold of
the snake and flung it across the yard. Once again, like a thrown
rope, the poor snake was airborne, finally hitting the barn wall
with a loud thump before sliding to the ground.

I should’ve sprinted for the safety of the woods but could only
watch in horror. Daddy was hollering in Irish—which is what he
always did when he was mad or scared—and he was a lot of both
at the moment. I glanced at the porch for help from my mom,
but she stood with her hand over her face, trying to suppress a
laughing fit. I heard her sputter, “Ain’t no use cryin’ over spilt
milk.”

Looking back, I saw Bo charging the helpless snake. Grasping
the snake in his mouth, he shook it violently and tossed it
through the air—right back toward Daddy.

At least this time, he had time to duck. It cleared his head by
about a foot before landing with a “whomp” in the barnyard.
The next movement in this drama did not bode well for me:
Daddy was on the move toward me. Collaring me with one hand,
he began wearing me out with the other. When his hand started
hurting, he picked up a stick and used it until it broke. Finally, he
picked up the now empty milk bucket and walloped me loudly
on the behind with it. He kept it up a long time, chewing me out
the whole time. Who knows what he was saying, since he was still
yelling in Irish.

When he stopped, we both looked to the porch, and Momma
was gone. Also gone was the snake. It seemed as if its three flights
would’ve dazed or killed it, but evidently it had cleared the
premises. Speaking of clearing out, that’s what I did—going to
the woods until Momma called for supper.

Copyright 2009   A Good Place by Curt Iles    Creekbank Stories LLC 2009

visit http://www.creekbank.net to learn more and order copies

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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