304. Wrestling Pythons

There is a cop in the alley behind the church, across from the drive up bank, tucked in at an angle where he can see the parking lot without attracting too much attention. Why?  Maybe speeders in the cut through alley; maybe a bank robbery. (Who robs a drive through bank? “Could you give me that in two tubes of twenties?  Thanks. Uh and a lollipop for my kid.”) Oh, how about a drug deal in the parking lot? I think I’ve witnessed one or two between a guy on a bicycle pulling up to an Escalade. They didn’t seem to go together for any good reason I could think of. Cop pulls out– nothing but powdered sugar left behind his acceleration. Gone. Nothing!! I had front row seats for action that vaporized… a pregnant rain cloud that broke into dry steam. Crap! I have to face real work now, calling insurance companies and faxing stuff. But wait…

Oh, good, the floor guys are here today for some distraction before my haircut at 11:30. They have already peeled off the vinyl fake wood floor that bubbled up on me after months of trying to get someone to lay it. In mere minutes these three guys have wrestled a vinyl python into submission.

It is now a fake wood floor covering, but I think of it as a flayed python skin glued onto the subfloor. My hyper-fertile imagination takes over…

“Yes, I bagged this bugger in the Amazon Basin in 2004. Had me in his coils, so he did, alone beneath an enormous Brazilian old growth mahogany tree I was admiring. Before I knew it, he was squeezing tight as a bad vice while I exhaled. Panic began to fill my over pressurized frame.

Climber Pocket Knife (Red)Then I remembered my all purpose utility tool attached to my belt. Fortunately my hands were at belt level and I could manipulate my fingers to open the tool for the grill brush attachment. As it popped open I felt a reassuring thud against the belly of the mammoth beast. I knew I had engaged the brush and began to wiggle it against the pale scales of the muscular monstrosity. Eyeball to eyeball we faced one another, its flickering tongue tasting the salty sweat of my fearless face. My training told me that when a constrictor savors its victim, the next step is opening the jaw for the one piece gorging which follows. I stared into his soulless eyes.

“That’s when I heard a whisper of a breath of hope. The beast’s belly convulsed and the serpent tried not to giggle or show any weakness. I kept methodically wiggling the grill brush, and then it happened. The leviathan laughed out loud with breath that reeked of gastrointestinal decay and putrefaction. With each helpless giggle I felt it loosen its grip on me. I prodded harder with the grill brush against one of its twenty or so sternums. Now I saw fear in the serpent’s vertical pupils. It knew that I had not just one upper hand but two. I grabbed the slippery slitherer by its meaty throat with my left hand, never stopping the tickling with my grill brush. ‘Who’s laughing now?’ I whispered to the once cocky worm.

“When it was completely helpless and recoiled by laughter, I switched the utility tool to its filet knife attachment and proceeded to surgically separate the beast from its scaly hide. Twenty two feet of snakeskin without a drop of blood involved. With a final flourish I snapped the snake’s entire bulkiness out of the souvenir skin. It wriggled away– naked, afraid, and defeated. Oddly pink as if sunburned in this rain forest. ‘He won’t last long in this jungle’, I muttered to no one. Meanwhile I rolled up the hide into a neat tube for office flooring.”

Now I am fully aware that none of this ever happened to anyone at any level of society or at any point in history. But such limitations do not disturb or even challenge me. I plod on against the boredom of the moment as the flooring guys make remarkable progress mere feet from my laptop. They have cut the vinyl beast precisely to fit my S-shaped hallway in the time it took me to fantasize about snake wrestling and fileting. Now they are carefully gluing down the coveted skin. It’s a ticklish process, to be sure. I thank the Lord for my Belgium made utility tool as I watch them cut and paste the complicated vinyl edges. Yes, it’s good to be alive.

Reality, however, is not all that sexy, folks, let’s face it. Some days just don’t pass the excitement test. Elvis, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Jimi Hendrix… all dead and gone. So it’s up to me to juice up reality. If speeders won’t speed, and robbers won’t rob, and dealers won’t deal,  I need to create an alternate universe where entertaining things do happen. In my world flooring contractors show up with a wild serpent in a tube. Otherwise I’d die of ennui, which looks like emu from a distance. Now there’s a thought, the mighty Emu rushed out of the bush with murderous intent, drawn like a religious fanatic to my orange towel as I shaved in the early Australian dawn…