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Monday, June 9, 2014

THE FAMILY TREE


This is a True Story shared at My Wife’s Blog Party  “Tell Me a True Story.”



That crazy kid has left the shower running. I don’t know what is wrong with him. So starts my true story about one branch of the family tree.

The old saying “There’s one in every family” probably is true for almost every family has one or more odd balls in it. I will just call him Tom for there is no need to draw any more attention to him than he does himself.

That morning the shower was left on, and we find Tom’s father mad for he had to climb the stairs leading to the second floor where there were bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom. As he made the climb and went into the bathroom he could hear the water running much louder.
He pulled back the shower curtain and before him was a shower room full of glass cages. Each cage had in it a rattle snake and something had excited them and they were shaking their rattles.

He went flying downstairs to find Tom and finally found him in the basement feeding the mice he was raising to feed the rattlers. His dad demanded Tom remove his menagerie at once.

Tom pretty well ignored that request for it hadn’t reached the level of a demand, yet as far as he was concerned. Tom was a second cousin, I emphasize second cousin to put him as far out on that branch of the family tree as possible.

His dad was one of my many first cousins. Tom was a little… I won’t call him strange but… let’s just say a little different. I figured he would grow out of it but it looked like he was growing into it whatever that means.

As the demands got louder Tom decided he was going to have to move his menagerie to somewhere else. While it seemed odd to me but he had a girlfriend whose mother had a basement and he moved in with the girl. He took all his snakes and mice with him.

The girl’s mother didn’t object too loud because she was a bit afraid of Tom’s oddness. She kept to herself and let her daughter and Tom have the basement to themselves.

A little later Tom showed up with something he wanted to show the guys working at my shop.

He brought in three glass cases with a black cobra in each case. They were small but would rise up and fan out into the strike position. I thought he had really lost it now because these were illegal.

He bought them from someone who slipped them into the country. He continued to add snakes to his collection and then one night when he was gone someone broke into the home and when they found themselves in the midst of all the snakes they panicked and began knocking the cases over, breaking them and allowing the snakes to escape, the three cobras were among them.

When Tom returned and saw what happened he set about collecting them again. He cleared the basement of all the snakes except for the cobras. He couldn’t find them.

They apparently slipped beneath the floor boards somehow. This was the first time he was bothered about being around snakes.  He wasn’t comfortable sleeping with the possibility of the cobras coming up from under the floor while he was asleep.

He and his girlfriend moved upstairs and slept there. He never found them but figured they died when the weather turned cold and they couldn’t tolerate that.

There was a happening one day when he was out in the Livermore hills. He was looking up under a house built on a steep hill. The front of the house was on the street level while the rear was up in the air supported by stilts.

The owner came home and wanted to know what he was doing there. He said I’m looking for rattlesnakes. The man bristled and said there aren’t any snakes around here so leave.

Tom went up the hill toward the front of the house and came out with a five foot rattler and asked, “What is this then?”  After bagging the snake the man told Tom to come by as often as he could and check the place.

Tom worked for me once in a while and we were on our way to a job and I noticed a cloth sack on the seat between us. I asked him if it was his lunch and he said no it was a rattler he carried with him in case he had any trouble with someone.

Not so politely, I told him to get out of my truck and take his snake with him. He was constantly coming up with something new like a Gila monster and I forbid him to bring anything around me for I’m uncomfortable around most reptiles.

One more story and then I’ll stop. Tom lived in a neighborhood where mostly black people lived.  Robberies were common and he thought he would scare off any potential thieves by showing off his python. He had raised it from a small two foot snake and now it was twelve foot long and large.

He took it out front and soon he had a large crowd surrounding him. Eventually some of the people started poking the snake and it became excited. It began to constrict around Tom and he couldn’t free himself. It was squeezing him until some of the men in the crowd stepped up and got it off of him. They got the agitated snake back into its cage and the show was over.

Shortly after he sold the snake to a pet store.  He had handled the python for years but decided it wasn’t safe any longer to do so.

Due to moving I haven’t seen Tom for thirty years but a short time ago I heard he lives about seventy miles from me as the crow flies and is still messing with all kinds of reptiles.

For me, I have my dogs and want nothing to do with snakes. 
 
This True Story is shared at “Tell Me a True Story.”

 

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