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A View from the Altar / Snake handling man
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Snake handling man

A grunt named Jimmy worked at the farm next to ours. Jimmy, rail thin except for a small pot belly, had a wife and an albino horse who were about the same size. He also had two filthy little boys, toddlers who never wore anything but a disposable diaper which got changed weekly. The eldest, who couldn’t have reached the age of four, also had a Daisy BB gun which he constantly cocked and shot at random. It was a hazard, yes. Jimmy occasionally noticed the shooting, pointed at the kid and exclaimed, “Hey!”

Jimmy once killed a baby rattlesnake in his yard and showed it to his nasty sons. The snake was about eight inches long. The boys were naturally curious about the fangs, so Jimmy opened its mouth and showed them the two fishbone-like teeth. Being a farm worker, his hands were perpetually skint up. In the act of squeezing open the snake’s mouth, a tiny droplet of venom dribbled onto one of his hands, wicking its way into an open sore. By nightfall he was gravely ill. His boss drove him to the hospital, and the effects cleared up after a week in intensive care. The episode embarrassed him, and it was best not to ask him about it.

Some time later Jimmy and his wife were taking a stroll along the Arkansas river at a placed called Trulock, looking for treasures in the sand. The hunt consisted of turning over drift logs, tearing into the occasional trash bag, and poking a stick through little scumps of debris washed up here and there. One mound held what appeared to be a canvas sack. Jimmy split the canvas with his pocket knife and was gouging at the mass inside when he realized the sack was actually pants and the mass inside was a rotting human corpse. Leaving his stick embedded where it was, he experienced an actual spontaneous run-away, yelling and fleeing to the safety of his bride who was still lumbering up the beach like an Imperial Walker.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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