Tony Woodlief | Author

So, the snake

There’s this scene in Jaws, when poor Chief Brody, chumming off the side of Quint’s boat, has his first honest-to-God encounter with the beast. “We’re going to need a bigger boat,” he mumbles.

The thing is, I only have a 28-gauge shotgun. Yes, they come in 28’s. As some of you know, I’ve had an ongoing algae problem in my pond. And there’s that big mean water snake who thinks it’s his pond. Well, the only way I’m going to save that pond is if I keep the fountain working, but the fountain keeps getting clogged with algae. I’ve tried to row out in a little inflatable boat and hoist that monstrous fountain up to scrub it down, but that just leads to ridiculousness as I struggle not to fall in while the fountain goes one way and my boat goes the other.

I decided to wade out into the pond. I was going to wear waders, but then someone told me about his friend who fell over in a stream with waders on and drowned. The pond is about five feet deep where the fountain sits. So no waders for Tony. Instead I put on some old pants, tied on my hiking boots extra tight, and started into that fetid, murky pond.

That’s when I saw him. Sunning himself on the shore behind some reeds, basking in all his malevolent snakiness. I backed out of the water and dashed into the house to fetch the shotgun. My hands trembled as I shoved a shell in each barrel. This was it. Go time.

I crept down the hillside until I stood over him. I aimed my shooting iron. I squeezed the trigger.

It didn’t budge. Stupid safety switch.

I slid the safety switch. Something in the snake’s brain, apparently — though it senses no threat from my approach — knows to kick into gear when a safety is disengaged. Off he slithered. I fired. Reeds flew into the air. Water splashed my legs.

He was still slithering. I fired again. More dead reeds. Surely I got him? I edged down to the water and poked around with a stick. No snake parts. I’m pretty sure the reeds protected him, which brings me to my point: we’re going to need a bigger boat.

Lacking a bigger boat, I strapped a machete to my back — I am not even kidding — and waded out into the water. Everything that touched me, I was sure, was that big, mean, pissed off snake. I tried not to make frightened girl-type sounds, since Wife and all my sons had gathered at the shore to watch in amusement.

To sum up, I did not get bitten. I cleaned that fountain while standing in five feet of nasty water and praying. I made my way out of the water. I turned on my newly cleaned fountain. It stayed on for about fifteen minutes.

Which means I’m going to have to try a new algaecide and then wade back out there. But first I’m getting a real shotgun. And perhaps some napalm.

On Key

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