Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Charm of the belly crawling reptile

Dear Acolyte, Bless you! Let us get to the lesson right away shall we. I am running a little late today, unfinished business.

I say, Acolytes, with not a little regret that I was at one time a naughty, naughty boy. I lied, I was sneaky, I took advantage of the gullible.

"Say that is not true, Exulted One. Not you, the bringer of light!!"

Yes tender Acolyte. I was a bright but naive boy , and was charmed by the wiles of the belly crawling reptile.

"A reptile, Exulted One?

Yes, Son, a snake and Bless You!

Spending as much time as I did, hiding in trees and shrubbery outside the School for Bad Girls, where I was living, I learned to catch and handle snakes with some degree of skill. I even caught and sold a few to the boys in the village. Several times I removed a snake or two from a basement or crawl space under a house, charging a modest fee.

At first, of course, I hesitated to spend much time in the village due to the fact that I was a school age boy living on his own and by his own wits. I was afraid that the authorities would take an interest in me, haul me in and put me in the School for Bad Boys until they figured out where I belonged. That was my greatest fear.

One day, a circus came to town and set up tents on the outskirts of the village, near the School for Bad Girls. Nearly penniless, I managed to sneak in under a poorly staked down flap of canvas and look around. The older village boys had warned me that the circus was always on the lookout for sneaky boys like me. If they caught you, they'd likely feed you to the tigers or worse. Still, I wanted in there, I was a very curious boy.

"Exulted One, they would never feed a child to a tiger!"

Yes, Son, Maybe not, but remember, I was a boy who, not long before, was eating undercooked rat in the leaky bilge of the Polar Cyst, A dark vessel of unknown flag! Trust does not come easily to a child tossed casually into a stormy sea by pirates and brigands. Down in the hold of that ship, if lucky, eating my rat, I would dream of a better life. I would dream my overturned bucket a fine table in an elegant restaurant. One Norway rat, please, rare, hold everything else. Sad and dreary, but that is how I made it through my days and nights, if you call day and night an unblinking five watt bulb.

To my good fortune, I encountered a fine, tall fellow with a large yellow basket,a Snake Charmer. Of course, he knew immediately that I was a boy without a ticket but seemed to care less. In fact, as he later related, He had, snuck into this very same circus as a boy, learning his craft from an elderly Charmer.

For three happy days, before the circus packed off their tents and animals, the Snake Charmer imparted a wealth of information of the care and handling of snakes. I learned how to grab them properly, how to hold them, and more than a little of their psychology.

"Psychology, Exulted One?"

Yes, Son, everything with a brain has a psychology, even an Acolyte!


As a parting gift, the Snake Charmer gave me my very own small basket and several turbans, cut down to fit the size of my head. He even gave me an exotic little snake which, although not venomous, had a nasty disposition and he had given up trying to train it. He though that, with more time on my hands, I could do something with that unruly creature. Fangy, I called it, even though it was a fangless snake. It was a nasty snake, however, and could give you a painful bite.

I loved the turban! With the turban, the village people just blindly assumed I was a native of some foreign land where people ran somewhat compact. It was perfect for a boy trying to avoid capture by the authorities and being send away to the Boy's Home.

The girls at the School for Bad Girls laughed at me and my little snake, Fangy, and the turban. Let em laugh, I thought, Ma would have simply pinned a fresh bottle of beer up against her face, making her already crazy eyes triple in size in the most alarming way and emit a terrifying screech like a rusty drawbridge. No one got the better of Ma!

The little snake never warmed up to me as I hoped it would. It was always crabby, even for a snake and had a fearsome bite. It would grab on your finger and hang on like a bulldog while you hopped up and down trying to shake it off. I tried everything to make it happy and like me but to no avail. I fed it good, I knew what kind of bug it liked and what kind it didn't. There was nothing warm and furry about that smake!

"Warm an furry, Exulted One?"

Bless You, Acolyte, just an expression. Though I was determined to make friends with that snake, it never happened. I started to get the feeling that it was up to no good. It started watching me with those beady eyes and it was creepy, like it was working on a plan. I tried praying for a sign from above to help me get on better terms with Fangy. I felt my little one boy church helped save me from the evil Captain of the Polar Cyst and perhaps it would intercede now. I was waiting for that sign from above.

One inexplicable talent Fangy had was it could always, always tell if there was another snake near by. It would turn facing the direction of the snake, wherever the snake happened to be and flick out its blue, forked tongue like it was licking an all day sucker. It never failed. It would flick the tongue toward a bush or a pile of rocks and there always was a snake in there. Remarkable, really. Fangy helped me catch a lot of snakes.

One day, I was out sitting in my little camp with Fangy near the tall iron fence next to the School for Bad Girls, wearing my turban. Fangy was sunning himself on top of his snake charmer basket. He wasn't going to run away, he knew I'd just catch him again. I was thinking hard about how I could get that darn snake to warm up to me. My whole snake charming future seemed to be tied up in that ornery critter. I guess Fangy just didn't find me so charming. His serpent eyes eyed me coldly, with a look of mockery and cold-blooded loathing. Still, this snake was my future and I would never give up on him.

Just then, Bad Girl 89065 showed up near the iron fence, pretending to snip some blades of grass, eyes darting about. Oh no, I thought, Bad Girl 63208R was up to something. 65 was 08R's little helper, spy, and messenger. This was not a good development on account of Bad Girl 08R being the toughest, meanest girl in the entire school.

What?, I whispered, my young voice cracking.

o8R wants a snake and she wants it right now! You gotta get her a snake!

Trouble, now there was serious trouble, I had hunted down and sold all the snakes in the territory, just about. There were no snakes to be had and 08R wants hers right now, this minute! If 08R didn't get her snake, she'd might denounce me to the authorities and they'd plunk me directly in the school for Bad Boys. Remember, I wasn't that big and nobody knew my real age, I'd become a lifer, in there for all eternity!

"Gimmy your snake", Bad Girl 89065 said, looking quite nervous herself. "She doesn't get her snake, we all die!" 065 wasn't fooling, beads of sweat were pooling on her forehead and there was a tremor in her voice. "Come on, give me the darn snake!"

I looked over to Fangy, Fangy was my only hope to become a world famous snake charmer. I couldn't give him up. Maybe I should just grab Fangy an run! Head for the tracks, jump on a train, anything! I would try a little deception to gain some time.

Just let me catch Fangy some bugs first, I told o65. He has to have his bugs, he'll starve! I looked toward Fangy, I would just grab everything and run like a scalded duck or I was chasing a beer truck as dear old Ma would like to say. Something odd though, Fangy was on alert!, his blue forked tongue was flicking like I had never seen it before.... There was a snake out there and it had to be really close for Fangy to alert like that!

Wait a minute!, there's a snake right over here, a big one, I whispered hoarsely. I lunged for the spot where Fangy was fixedly staring at, Fangy had never let me down. Right away I spotted a hole under the nearest bush and madly thrust my eager hand down it to grab the big snake I knew was down there. I had to get that smake!

What the heck! Something down there grabbed my thumb and bite me with so much force that, thrashing around, I kicked over Fangy's basket. It took a minute to get my hand out of that hole and plunge it into a nearby bucket of cold water I had in my camp. Jez, that hurt.

Fangy was on the move! Wierdly, he didn't try to escape, he slid in between the iron pickets on the fence and headed directly for Bad Girl 63208R!!! I freaked, if Fangy bite her, fire and brimstone would rain down upon me, her wicked girl mobsters would track me to the ends of the earth to wreak vengeance. Oh no, don't bite, don't bite, I prayed with desperation.

Again, what the heck, Fangy beelined directly to 08R like a fond puppy! 08R reached down, picked up Fangy putting Fangy close to her face. What! Then to my utter shock and disbelief, Fangy actually extended his forky tongue out further than it even seemed possible and licked Bad Girl 63208R right on her juicy, red lips. Fangy was in love!

"Exulted One, ah, we're kind of having a hard time belie.."

Kindly shush, Beloved Acolytes, and Bless you! It is nearly time that I must go.

"So, Exulted One, was there no sign from above, I mean, the lesson..?"

Son, how would you get a sign from above from the belly crawling reptile? No, no sign from above, it was a sign from below!, the hole, Acolyte!, the hole! Now I must run, Bless you all, time to end the lesson.

"But.. but, wait, Exulted One...."

"Pimped out" Shopping cart of wife with eyes blue like Ellensburg agate.  Line with hardware cloth so apples, oranges, etc, will not fall out.  Is this not deluxe?  A Ferrari of beat up shopping carts.

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