Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ol’ Croaky fails to survive ambush by Mr. No-shoulders, evening harmony gone

In springtime in Mississippi the robins are diggin’ for worms, the mocking birds and cardinals are courtin,’ the bull frogs are “bellerin’” for wives or for husbands and it’s time to load your gun, cause the snakes are a crawlin.’

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any personal grievances concerning snakes, except when they have poor judgment and trespass on geographical locations where my children, or for that matter any children, have unlimited access to the property and only then when they are venomous.

I wouldn’t harm a chicken snake because they subsist mainly on rodents (damnrats). A king snake’s favorite meal is a rattler or copperhead or moccasin, which are hemotoxic species. That is a poison that affects the blood, as opposed to a neurotoxin which discombobulates the central nervous system.

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Cobras, mambas and boom slangs fall in that category. The only neurotoxic reptile in these latitudes is the coral snake. They are easy to spot because they are colorful. They resemble a variety of king snakes which have red, yellow and black bands.

The only way to tell the good guys from bad guys is this rhyme from the old days:

“Black on red, pat him on the head.”

The sequence of the different colored bands are the giveaway, “Black on red pat him on the head.”
In other words when the black band adjoins a red band he is a useful serpent. The deadly coral has the exact colors but a different sequence. ‘Red on yellow will kill a fellow.”

Now, I have to confess to a serpent homicide with my accomplice “Red” who is a “redneck” tick hound. He is immature and apart from being the ugliest puppy in Panola County (if not the state of Mississippi) he is a fine fellow.

“Red has a good nose and will trail anybody’s old dirty sock or smelly drawers so he has potential as a search and rescue hound. He has a touch of blue tick in him because his tail is speckled blue while the rest of him is speckled red except for his head which is similar in color and shape to a “punkin” with a nose it.

I was telling lies on the front porch to Chad Smith and he noticed Red pouncing at something in the weeds by the small pond in the front yard. Ol’ Red had treed the only thing uglier than him that was locally available, a hungry old rusty cottonmouth moccasin. I knew he was hungry because he was in the process of gobbling down my conversational bullfrog that would sing to me of an afternoon.

If that scaly varmint could have spit out my frog he would have nailed Ol’ Red. Well, to make a sad story sadder, Old Croaky didn’t survive the ambush by the snake.

His widow was mostly silent with grief, but as soon as I could locate my Colt, I retaliated with prejudice.

After all, I was learning from him as well as teaching harmony to that frog and considered him to be a “sundown poet.” He was better natured and more entertaining than my wretched ex-wife and not half as ugly.

I got around to calculating expenses for my revenge- oriented execution and found (due to the inflated prices of reliable ammunition) that it cost me three dollars to avenge the death of my pond partner. I’d spend a paycheck (if I ever get another) to have him back. Alas, that can never be.
I don’t know what the construction crew thought about the gunfire but I explained to the foreman and showed him the corpse and he forgave me for scaring his crew into the nearest fox hole.

Enduring Silence in Sardis,

Ricky Harpole
 (Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)