I would like to say this isn’t a true story.
My neighbor’s son, an Afghanistan Marine Veteran, who sometimes has problems with … Things … has been kneeling beside his truck the last couple of days with a make-shift fishing pole with a shuttlecock (you know, from badminton) attached to the end of it.
The shuttlecock is multi-colored and there is something inside of it that makes a clicking noise.
I have no idea what makes the clicking noise, but he lifts it up and down and wags its sideways and then just sits and squats and watches underneath his truck.
Strange stuff, right?
Well ... You gotta know the guy.
He’s awesome. The type who would carry a can of gasoline for you in a fire storm.
A little loopy, a little “talky,” but ...
After about four days of seeing him do this I had to ask.
“Trying to catch a squirrel?” Half-kidding, half serious, all-in curious.
“Nah, got a couple of snakes in my truck,” he said. “Can’t get them out.”
And, he added, in a most matter-of-fact and scary tone, “They hatched a bunch of eggs, so I had a mamma, a papa, and bunch of baby snakes.”
He said he kept seeing things in his truck — in the vents, under the seats, behind the seats — and his father — who is a 30-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department — told him he needed to go to the VA Hospital; he was seeing things.
My neighbor surfs. He’s a Veteran. He does have his problems, but he’s the best neighbor any person could ask for.
“I thought maybe I was .. You know I had a couple of grenades go off near my head,” he said.
This is my neighbor: He said this, shrugged, grinned, and clicked his make-shift fishing pole toward his truck in the same movement.And I ‘d trust him with my life.
“But then one came out,” he said.
With snakes in his air vents clogging up circulation of cold air (plus, his air conditioner doesn’t work), he bought about 10 bags of ice and put them in his truck trying to “cold out” the snakes. It worked. One came out.
A six-foot “Black Racer.” What I used to call a plain ole’ black snake, but apparently the “Racer” variety are a bit more aggressive than the boring black snake.
And this was the mamma.
Well, my neighbor’s dad believed him then.
Since that first Black Racer Exorcism my neighbor has also expelled “a bunch” of baby snakes.
Problem is, Papa Racer is still hanging around, as is one of his offspring, who seems to have reached a length of … I don’t know, three-feet.
And they like his truck.
“I found where they hung out (meaning hatched babies), under the carpet behind the seats,” he said.
He’s telling me all of this while holding a makeshift fishing pole with a noise-making shuttlecock attached to the end.
Oh yeah, he’s tried smoke, firecrackers, moth balls. Nothing worked. In fact, he said, the moth balls agitated them.
“Watch this,” he said.
He squatted. He reached out his fishing pole with the painted and noisy shuttlecock to the rear wheel well of his truck.
And lo and behold … About two-feet worth of Black Racer emerged and struck at the bait.
Then coiled back on itself.
He grinned at me with the satisfaction of a man who had proved an important point, but didn’t know what to do with it.
“The other one comes out sometimes,” he said. “But I ain’t sticking my head under there.”
I don’t know if there is a point to this story — other than my neighbor (the son) seemed pleased that his father finally believed him.
Though, he confessed, his 30-year veteran of a police force in an unfriendly city father is deathly afraid of two things, snakes being number one. The second one being sharks (but that’s another story).
“Do me a favor,” I asked. “If you catch it, don’t let it go in the neighborhood.”
He laughed. “Oh no, I’m taking it to mamma snake … They’re just in the way here, you know?”
I didn’t ask.