The Great Snake HuntPosted: October 26, 2011
“Agua. Por favor.”
It’s an old gag but a good one, the way we ask for water when we’re hungover. Sam was already up, I was still catatonic. He barely responded to my croak except by way of a grunt of his own but padded off to the kitchen without further prompting.
“I’ve got to have a word to Terry about his choice of pets,” Sam was muttering to himself when he came back into the room moments later.
“Where’s my water?”
“I couldn’t get it. There’s a snake in the kitchen.”
Of all the excuses this one was pretty good. I went to look for myself. There was no snake in the kitchen. At least not one that anyone but Sam could see. I got my glass of water and went back to bed.
In the meantime Sam told his story to Terry. Terry told his neighbour Lewis. Lewis told Terry to call the landlord. Terry called Ralph.
“Why didn’t you call me sooner Terrence?” Ralph asked. “How big was it?”
“How big was it Sam?”
“Maybe just under a metre long.”
“It’s over a metre long Ralph.”
“I’m on my way.”
In the meantime we had a poke round the cupboards and under the benches but couldn’t see anything.
“I think it went under the washing machine,” Sam said.
The only thing resembling a snake under the washing machine was the black plastic drain pipe.
“Are you sure you didn’t see the black plastic drain pipe and mistake it for a snake?”
“Mate this wolf-crying story is getting out of hand.”
“Are you sure you don’t have delirium tremors?” Terry asked.
We had got home at 10.30am after 22 hours of celebrating the Rugby World Cup win so hallucinations were not all together out of the question. Sam was definitely feeling the heat and losing confidence in what he had seen.
Ralph arrived. He was carrying a double-barrelled shotgun and the biggest torch I have ever seen. It was so large it looked like a mini-generator. A label on the side proclaimed 10,000,000 candle power. Apparently it was Ralph’s porcupine hunting torch. Ralph was also wearing a camouflage t-shirt. I got the distinct impression that he wasn’t wearing it before Terry’s phone call. I could just picture it – Ralph in the middle of something, talking to his wife maybe and then “I’ve got to go, Terrence needs me again. Snake trouble this time. Bring me my camouflage shirt. Wonder if I need to take the shotgun? Yes, I’ll be needing the shotgun. And my spotlight, get me my spotlight too.”
Ralph also had an assistant with him. The assistant was carrying a stick. Lewis came over. Lewis was carrying an old palm frond. Terry’s gardner Chandhu was also there. Also carrying a stick. Sam and I armed ourselves with brooms and moved to the back of the room to guard against a possible rear assault.
Ralph immediately took charge of the operation.
“Turn on all the lights. Snakes are the kings of darkness.”
After a thorough inspection of the premises attention turned to the washing machine. Ralph laid his shotgun close to hand and directed his man towards the machine. He opened it and looked inside. There was no snake inside.
“At least if we find it there it will be a very clean snake,” Ralph remarked.
They started poking round under the washing machine with the sticks. When this produced no result Ralph directed his man to pull out the washing machine. It wouldn’t come out so they started attacking the joinery around it with a hammer.
“Well if we don’t catch him at least he will be a deaf snake,” Ralph said unprompted after a particularly vigourous period of hammering. The hammer broke so they switched to a pair of hedge clippers. Eventually they managed to rip the plywood side off the bench. This didn’t really help things as the washing machine was still held in place by the framing.
Then they switched back to their original approach of poking with sticks. Tipping the washing machine back as far as it would go they shone the torch underneath. Amazingly there actually was a snake there. Maybe Sam had rushed out and found one once he realised what a commotion his tall tale had caused.
To get more prodding room they propped the machine back on its hind legs using a bottle of Eno.
“Maybe the snake has problems with acid,” Ralph quipped.
More poking and prodding followed. I stood behind the four armed men and documented the destruction of the kitchen with my camera.
Suddenly the snake made a dash for freedom. Ralph’s man panicked and let out a little shriek. Ralph showed no hesitation and pounced on the snake, catching it behind the head.
It was small, maybe 50 centimetres long and fangless.
“Is it poisonous?” Sam asked.
“What will we do with it now?”
“Because the only good snake is a dead one.”
Ralph obviously had his blood lust up. Ralph is Catholic so killing snakes is ok but Chandhu is Hindu and looked a bit horrified. Apparently snakes are sacred or gods or something to Hindus.
Ralph carried it outside and his assistant snipped its head off with the hedge clippers. It coiled and convulsed, wrapping itself around Ralph’s arm.
“Death grip,” Ralph remarked looking pleased with himself.
Once we were sure it was well dead the two Great White Snake Hunters stepped forward from behind the refrigerator to pose for photos with the snake. Sam was vindicated and I forgave him for not bringing me my glass of water. All in all it was an eventful evening.