..A funny thing happened...
Everyone should enjoy this one...
On a Saturday, 6/2/01, I was sitting around the house at about 12:45 in the afternoon. I had been up for a while, Kathryn had been up for a while and Mrs. Martin had just crawled out of bed and was eating breakfast. The phone rang. I answered.
Jeff: " Hey man. Um, Do you have any shells for your shotgun?"
Ok, as you may have already guessed, warning buzzers were screaming in my head. I was thinking "What the F@CK??", but said
Joey: "Um... why?"
I feel it's always better to err on the safe side. If Jeff wants to kill someone, let him do it with someone else's gun, not mine!
Jeff: "I've got a little snake problem."
Ah, this I can understand. Mr. Crisp lives in a wooded area right on the lake. He has a rodent problem in his abode, and if a mouse can get in, so can the snakes that want to eat the meeses.
Mr. Crisp explained to me that a snake was attempting to gain entry into his home. This snake did not have a valid search warrant and was acting viciously. It had attacked the shovel that Mr. Crisp was using to keep it at bay. I told him I would be over in a few minutes, hung up, chuckled and shook my head. The wife asked "What?" I told her. She said "Oh, I'm not feeling good, I'm going back to bed." A few seconds later she added "Oh, will that thing still shoot?" I said "yes." You see, my shotgun is an antique. It was given to my grandfather when he was young by an older hunting buddy. It is extremely old. Kathryn was firmly ensconced with drink and snack in front of her current favorite movie, so I grabbed the shotgun and a few shells and headed to the lake.
When I arrived, Jeff was pacing around the edge of his entrance area holding a shovel. I approached and he pointed out Mr. Snake. Said snake was curled up beside one of the bushes near Jeff's door. Jeff explained that Mr. Snake really wanted in and that he was uncomfortable with that idea. He showed me the shovel he had been using to try to at first kill Mr. Snake, then keep him away from the door. If you have ever been in this situation, you know the telltale signs. The shovel had several places where twin rivers of venom were running down it's blade. Mr. Snake was apparently not happy with the current situation either. He had been striking at the shovel that I assume Mr. Crisp had been using as a shield. Mr. Crisp had hit Mr. Snake one good time about halfway down his length. This had not slowed Mr. Snake down in the least. Perhaps we should have taken this as an omen.
Mr. Crisp attempted once again to use the shovel to behead Mr. Snake, but due to the softness of the ground in that area, this was a futile effort. He managed to move Mr. Snake using the shovel. Mr. Snake was first moved a good throws length towards the beach, then after a quick conference, he was moved onto the beach. We figured that the landlord would not be pleased by the furrow the 16 gauge shotgun blast would make on his grassy lawn.
Mr. Snake laid on the sandy beach, indignantly staring at us as he had been for a while. I pulled the gun out of it's bag. The grip had come loose while rolling around in the bag. I started loading it, Jeff said "you should only need one.." Then he added "Will that thing still shoot?"
At this point, I realized that I really need to get a new gun. No one seems to appreciate a good working antique.
I leveled the gun at Mr. Snake. I was standing atop the seawall. He was below me, approximately eight feet away. I took quick aim, released the safety and let a blast go. Admittedly, I have not fired any gun in a while, and it had been several years for this particular one. I was expecting the healthy kick I remembered from before. The result was that I forgot that the right barrel is the "low barrel." The blast hit mostly right in front of Mr. Snake, with only about ten percent actually striking him. He wiggled around a tad, then started giving us that malevolent stare once again, as if to say "That all ya got?"
I reloaded. Mr. Crisp made a remark about me needing to aim better. I aimed right for the beast's body, released the safety and depressed the trigger. This time Mr. Snake was hit well. He rolled up after the blast swept over and through him. He hissed at us in fury, then once again flicked his tongue out and gave us that malevolent stare. We began to wonder what manner of hell snake had been cast upon Jeff's front step. I pulled the last shell from my pocket, wondering if three was really going to be enough. I reloaded, took aim, released the safety, pulled the trigger and the gun went "click".
OK, misfires are no fun, but in an old double barreled shotgun, they are downright scary. I opened the breach. The shell was fully intact. I decided to try once more. Pull. Click. I ejected the shell, figuring that it was a dud. These shells have been sitting in my drawer for several years....
Meanwhile, Mr. Snake was finally acting a little sluggishly, as if his mind was finally admitting that it had been hacked and beaten by a shovel and shot twice. Mr. Crisp finally maneuvered him to a rock on the beach where he could get some leverage, put the blade of the shovel onto Mr. Snake's neck, and ground down as hard as he could. When he let up, the snake again looked at us with that cold dispassionate "I'm going to kill and eat you" look that only snakes and cats can give. It's head was barely hanging on. We finally decided we had done all we could do short of a tactical nuclear device and left it alone. It finally decided it was dead and Jeff used the shovel (handy tool, that!) to stretch it out. It was a good four footer.
I needed to get home in case the daughter needed anything, so I packed my gun and bid Mr. Crisp adieu. When I was pulling away, he was using a hose to wash the venom from the shovel....
In retrospect, the first blast, even though off target slightly, should have torn Mr. Snake into approximately ten pieces. I now believe that since these shells have been sitting for so long, they have lost a good bit of their kick. Thus, the less than remembered kickage and the minimal snake damage.
Update!: On October 15, 2001, I purchased a new shotgun. It is a nice new black, ugly Mossberg M500 12 gauge. I could feel the anguished cry of snakes everywhere.