The Case of the Escaping Snakes Or Why Some Titles Have the Word “OR” in Them

by bobsimpson

Insp. Inspector slides on down to Miami Beach to snare some saccharin sacked South Samoan snakes.

That's correct Watson. To avoid a silhouette, the sun should be directly behind me.

The Case of the Escaping Snakes Or Why Some Titles Have the Word “OR” in Them
The Case of the Escaping Snakes Or Why Some Titles Have the Word “OR” in Them

“Snake On The Beach, Snake On The Beach.” Shrieks rose along the sun-screened soaked sands of Miami Beach. The Gold Coast was in turmoil. Local middle-aged early retirees in the know were already sporting snake proof in-line skates. Dread feelings welled up in the $10.99 breakfast buffet stomachs of terrified tourists when the SNAKE siren sounded. 

Reports of snake strikes as far north as Boca Raton were coming in, but at least the built-up weathered leathered tans of the folks down Boca Raton-Fort Lauderdale way had saved them. If JFK had spent more outdoor quality time soaking up the rays at the Kennedy Compound, then that single magic bullet would have just ricocheted off his tanned callused hardened head.

The Chamber of Commerce held an emergency meeting, took a vote, and issued the statement, “We are extremely upset.”

The Junior Chamber of Commerce held an emergency meeting, took a vote, and issued the statement, “We are extremely upset, but probably not as much as the regular Chamber of Commerce.”

Seasoned sightseers remained in hotels watching CNN, Continuous Never-ending News. Merchants along the strip were losing revenues. No one was buying rubber alligators or baskets of oranges.

Happy hip booted vendors strolled though hotel lobbies with pushcarts full of $30 emergency snakebite kits. They were selling hundreds of the little Suckers.

The Miami Herald projected lost revenue at one million dollars a day. This figure didn’t include the blow-up rubber snake-bitten rafts so this figure was somewhat under inflated.

Legless reptiles had served up all this outrage, but only two snakes had been sighted. This doesn’t mean that there might have been more snakes involved but if there were, they all would have been blind, not sighted. There is a species called the Blind Snake but all this explanation about whether or not there were only two snakes and if additional snakes could see or not see has gotten out of hand.

In fact, nothing can really get out of hand with a snake. In addition to being legless, they are also armless, which shouldn’t be construed as being harmless. Although most serpents are non poisonous, there are a few out there that, as Alligator Alley Airboat Billy says, “can flat-out whomp you pretty good”. If all this has been too cumbersome, mark out the offending passage so you will never have to read it again.

The Miami City Council had voted, out of sheer desperation, to commission the Inspector fromTampa. The Inspector, out of sheer desperation, had accepted the assignment.

At the Miami airport Inspector met Senior City Councilman, Benjamin Tanlong. Ben flashed 46 teeth, “Inspector, I’m Ben Tanlong.” He was wearing a $700 Burdines suit with Snake proof Gucci black leather loafer-style calf boots with racer stripes. He stretched out a bronze-colored hand to greet Inspector.

Inspector shook hands with Ben and reeled from the rancid bouquet of old Coppertone that wafted across the airport concourse from Ben’s sleeve.

Ben said, “I’m certainly glad, as well as five out of seven of the city council, to greet you and welcome you to Miami. I’m glad you could take the assignment. We’re all pretty scared down here.

“Pleased to be here,” said Inspector. “When do I get my money?”

Ben laughed, “Great sense of humor. Actually, I don’t have your money with me. The city council has already approved the payment. The request has to go through 14 departments. The check request will then go to the Check Writing Department where it will be input into the computer. There is always someone new in that department so it usually kicks out of the computer three or four times before the check is printed.

Our low bid upgraded Commodore computer then selects your last previous address and sends the check directly to that address. After the Post office forwards it to your new address, you have ten days to cash it. You should have it within a year.”

They walked through the airport concourse and fought their way down the Up escalator to the baggage claim area. Inspector had one bag to pick up.

There was a gathering of refugees in the baggage claim area. They were fascinated by the luggage as it popped out a hole in the wall, moved along a conveyor belt, and floated back into another hole in the wall.

They formed a line to buy tickets to the American Baggage Train Ride, to give their little Juans a ride. No one arrived to sell tickets so the herd drifted over to buy some Escalator Ride tickets.

Inspector remarked, “It’s been 15 minutes and I haven’t seen my bag yet but that green one has gone around three times.” The green bag belonged to an old lady with a chrome metal walker. She was stationed at the first hole in the wall. She was gripping her walker tightly in anticipation. She had missed the bag the first 3 times around. 

The green suitcase moved by again. She set her false teeth firmly in her gums and made a grab for the bag. She missed. She cursed.

She was now throwing the walker in front of her at an amazing speed, pursuing the chartreuse satchel on the conveyor belt. The few people still gathered in the claim area began to cheer her on. She lunged for the green suitcase.

She had the bagged the bag in her hand and the crowd went wild. They were cheering, jumping up and down. The newly arrived Immigrants jumped down and then up. They quickly hurt themselves and stopped.

The virid tote was heavier than the older racer imagined. The old duffer’s duffle did not budge. She did not release her grip on her grip. Her triumphant grin shifted to a perplexed grimace as she was pulled up over the chrome walker’s top bar and onto the conveyor belt. The depression era, war-bond-buying, bygone Bulldog still held on to her bag.

There was a choking scream and she was gone. The remaining refugees crossed themselves and bowed their heads. Seconds later, the green bag rolled out again, followed by a wet set of dentures. Ben pointed to the false teeth. “What happened to the old lady?”

“It's obvious,” said Inspector, “She was an old woman who lost all her real teeth years ago. She probably needed those choppers to chew. I just wonder what will happen to the teeth now?” 

“I think the baggage men let an article go around seven times and then they mark it with an X.  All the X’s are then taken to the Lost and Found Department.”

“Shouldn’t we tell them that the dentures don’t belong on the conveyor belt?” asked Inspector.

“I wouldn’t worry about that. They’ll cross that bridge when they get to it.”

The Escalator repair man is always careful to follow the correct steps.

The escalator is conveniently located just steps away.
The escalator is conveniently located just steps away.

Chapter Two

The Escalator is Conveniently Located Just Steps Away

Ben was getting impatient. “If you don’t see your luggage, just grab something comparable and let’s go. The city council waited here last week for a suitcase from Bogotá and it never showed up.

”Inspector spied a red bag and grabbed it. “This looks better than mine.” They hurried up the Down escalator, out of the airport, and into a big limo.  

Once inside Ben said, “Hurry up. Open it. Let’s see what you got.”

They opened the red suitcase. First thing he found was a traveling alarm clock. The hands had little thumbs on them extended into a hitchhiking traveling position.

Next he pulled out some women’s underwear, a large brassiere, and $5,000 in cash. “Well Inspector,” said Ben. “You are a very lucky fellow. This is the very money we were waiting for last week. There is a $5,000 reward for its recovery, so just keep the money.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess you’re right about being lucky but what am I going to do with this very large bra?”

Ben snickered, “With all the reward money you’ll be carrying tonight, I wouldn’t worry about the bra. Try your hotel lounge tonight. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up something to put in that bra. Get my drift, eh?”

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the advice, but tonight at the bar I think I’ll just drink from a regular glass. It’s funny though that you should mention drinking from brassieres. A midget friend of mine did a research paper on that very subject. It might come in handy if I wanted to order a double.

He told me a famous German beer got its name from drinking doubles. The Germans make a very dark heavy beer. When it’s poured into a brassiere, the two cups hang low from the weight. 

“Instead of saying, ‘Give me a German beer in a brassiere.’ They just say, ‘Give me a Lowenbrau’

The English have different traditions. They aren’t accustomed to drinking as much as the Germans. They order just the very bottom of the bra cup to be filled with whiskey. ‘Nip of whiskey, please’.”

Ben said, “It sounds like you memorized the research paper. Can we get on with this snake business? The information we have suggests we’re dealing with two very sneaky, slimy, scaly, slithery, scary, sadistic snakes.”

Inspector said, “There’s one thing that troubles me. Why do folks always use adjectives beginning with the letter ‘S to describe snakes?”

“Probably since adverbs would not work as well as adjectives do.”

Inspector asked, “Why have just two snakes caused so much havoc? Haven’t you been able to catch them?”

“Yes, we’ve been able to catch them,” said Ben. “We’ve snared them six times. They just keep getting away. I told you they were sneaky. That’s why we commissioned you, to catch them AND keep them.

“These snakes,” asked Inspector, “Are they sandy-colored?”

“Why yes, but how did you know?”

“First, ” said Inspector, “Their habitat seems to be the sandy beach so they would naturally blend into their immediate surroundings. Second ‘sandy’ is another adjective beginning with the letter ‘S’.”

“See what I mean about the adverbs?” asked Ben. “It doesn’t sound right to say they were sandily colored.”

“Are their bites dangerous?” asked Inspector.

“We really don’t know yet. We don’t have enough information to say. Studies suggest that the venom may be harmful. The immediate bite is not painful. We’re more worried about the long term effects of the toxin.”

“What kind of poison is it?” asked Inspector.

“Our scientists say that when the snake strikes there are massive amounts of saccharin released into the victim’s bloodstream. Take a look at these skull X-rays taken during their last captivity.” 

Inspector studied the x-rays while Ben explained. “See there, right behind the jaw. Those are the saccharin sacks. Our lab workers say the snakebite may eventually, after thirty to thirty-five years, cause Cancer. specifically Sarcoma.”

Inspector nodded, “Yes, this all fits. Everything about these snakes still starts with an ‘S’.”

Ben added, “This species of snake is known as the South Samoan Saccharin Snake. You’ll notice that it looks a lot like our own Dade County Blonde Rattlesnake.”

He had never seen a Dade County Blonde Rattlesnake so he bluffed a reply, “Yes, it bears a striking resemblance.”

Inspector questioned, “If you had them in the x-ray room, how did they get away?”

“We just left them for a minute while the x-rays were being developed. Incidentally, all our hospitals in Dade County have a two-for-one offer on X-rays. One to keep and one to share, one to keep and one for your disability lawyer. Anyway, we came back into the room and they were gone.”

“How could they have just slipped out of the hospital with so many people around?” asked Inspector.

“I told you they were sneaky, didn’t I? They found some hospital gowns and the snakes stiffened up into two long rods. They were wearing the white hospital gowns when they hopped out the emergency room door.”

“Wasn’t there a nurse or someone at the door to stop them?” asked Inspector.

“There was a student nurse at the desk,” said Ben. “She doesn’t work there anymore. She thought the two sticks in white gowns that hopped by her desk were just part of the hospital staff that she’d heard so much about.”

“Ben, it’s getting late and I think I’ve heard enough for today,” said Inspector. “Let me sleep on the problem and we’ll discuss strategy over breakfast tomorrow.

“Okay,” said Ben. “We’ll drop you off at the hotel. This will work out fine. It’s right on my way home. I promised my son I’d go to his championship playoff tonight.”

In the limo Inspector asked Ben, “What sport does your boy play?”

“He’s on the Yo-Yo team. The big spin-off is tonight. He’s really not very good. Coach put him on the on the second string team. Seems like he always winds up last.

Some of the other boys have been teasing him, twisting his string, and short-stringing his Yo-Yo. They even put Termites in his Yo-Yo case. I guess when he gets tired, he’ll quit on his own accord.”

“Does he know any Yo-Yo tricks?” asked Inspector.

“Oh, I taught him a few myself, but he just gets them mixed up. I taught him ‘Walk the Dog’ and ‘Rock the Baby’. Yesterday he showed me ‘Rock the Dog’.”

The Worst Knock Knock Joke: Knock Knock. Come in.

A Room With a Door
A Room With a Door

Chapter Three

A Room With A Door

They arrived at the hotel and Ben handed the reward money and red suitcase to Inspector. Inspector walked though the hotel lobby up to the front desk. “May I have a room please?”

The very neat, prim, and bored desk clerk asked, “Sir, would you like a door with your room? It’s two dollars extra with a door.”

Inspector bantered, “Suppose I asked you for a door? Would you ask me if I wanted a room with my door? I’d be in a real jamb if I had to sleep in a door, wouldn’t I?”

The desk clerk responded, “I think your attempt at humor is infinitely funnier than your actual intended humor. If you don’t try any more humor in the lobby, I’ll throw in a door with your room at no extra cost. Remember, the free door hinges on that fact.

Please don’t leave the door ajar. My aunt left her door ajar in her will. We packed the jar with doorjamb and sold it to a door-to-door salesman. The salesman spread the doorjamb on his plank steak. He did very well selling naughty pine doors to Adult Book stores. Now that I have demonstrated just how inferior your wit is, please go to your room?”

Inspector caught the room key as it was hospitably shoved across the counter. He entered the elevator and pushed the Up Button. He faced the front according to proper elevator etiquette. As he waited for the door to close, he watched people move in and out of the lobby. Most were waiting for the Greyhind Bus that stopped out in front.

The Greyhind Bus Line acquired the name from an old moniker. The nickname referred to the bus driver’s faded britches. Never known for rapid transit, the signboard on the diesel transport displayed a curled up sleeping mutt.

The elevator door was still open as Inspector reflected back to his last Greyhind trip. The restroom in the back of the bus carried no sign, just a silhouette of a skinny squatting dog.

Inspector realized the elevator door had not closed. “This must be one of those old-fashioned elevators that needs a driver. I’ll just run it myself.”

There was an old grizzled man in a uniform perched on a wooden stool in the elevator corner. He was sleeping. Inspector didn’t want to wake him just to ask him what floor he wanted. “He’ll have to drive his own elevator.”

Inspector’s key number was 300. He brought the elevator to a jerky stop within three feet of the third floor, knocking over a fine collection of empty wine bottles near the wooden stool.      

The elevator opened and he jumped down three feet to the third floor.

There were four rooms, every one room 300. He opened the nearest door 300. The room was like so many other hotel rooms he’d seen. There was the bed. There was the long low bureau with the same two lamps. There was the same old cable television set mounted on a steel bracket on the same old wall. Everything was the same.

There were the same small bars of wrapped soap in the bathroom. There was the same sanitized paper strip stretched over the toilet seat. He’d been in so many hotel rooms that he almost never got the paper strip wet.

The walk-in closet was similar to all the other closets he’d ever seen. Inspector peered out the window. “Same old view. Cold-hearted, indifferent city just like all the other cities I’ve seen.”

Inspector placed his red traveling bag in the always-same hotel chair. Then Inspector discovered something novel in the room, which he had apparently overlooked when he first entered the room. He found this refreshing.

He moved his luggage, sat down in the hotel chair, and watched as the young couple in his bed finished making love. Three minutes later a breathless young woman lit a cigarette and said, “I think you have the wrong room. I saw you come in but I really couldn’t break away until now. I’m Yolanda and this is my cousin, Cecil, from Ohio.

Inspector wiped sweat beads from his forehead with one trembling hand while he adjusted himself with the other hand. “My name is Inspector. I’m terribly sorry. I guess the desk clerk made a mistake. I thought about interrupting you but the last time I did that, both dogs bit me.”

Inspector made a clumsy bow as he tried to straighten up. He picked up his luggage and limped to the door. As he left he turned and asked Yolanda, “Is that really your cousin you were making love with?”

“Yeah.” said Yolanda, “He’s my cousin, twice removed.”

“Just a thought”, said Inspector, “but he probably wouldn’t have twice removed if he’d shorten up on his strokes.”

Inspector moved to the next door 300, with a sign swinging from the doorknob that said, “DO NOT DISTURB”. No matter how he tried to turn the doorknob, the sign always moved. Since he couldn’t open the door without disturbing the sign, he moved on to the third door 300.

Luggage was piled outside this door so he started for the fourth door 300. As he turned, the door opened and two old eyes peeked out through the opening. The door opened wider. 

He deduced that this was a lonely old widow:

Lonely: because she winked at him through her cataract glasses and quickly hung a sign on the doorknob, “PLEASE DISTURB”.
Old: because her breasts hung out from the bottom of her full-length robe and rested on her slippers.
Widow: because she said, “I’m a widow and you may take advantage of me for two dollars.”

Inspectror saw the bulge at her waist, “Don’t your breasts get in the way of making change?” She
flung open her robe. Her coin changer hung on a belt looped over her breasts. She rang out a quarter, dime, nickel, and three pennies in one fluid motion, which proved just how many times she’d had to make change.

Inspector looked away, “You’ve come a long way, Baby. I’m sorry; I’m just here on business.”

“So am I, Sonny,” said the widow. “So if you don’t want any, move on.”

Inspector advanced to the fourth room 300. It was empty. He placed his luggage on the always-same chair and called the desk clerk on the telephone.  “I’d like a wake up call for 6:30.”

The desk clerk said, “I already have a 6:30 wake up call for another room. You will have to select another time. I have a 6:45 open if you like?”

“A 6:45 would be fine,” said Inspector.

He was unpacked his new suitcase. The telephone ring and he answered, “Mr. Inspector. It is time to wake up. It is 6:45.”

He answered, “I’m sorry. What I had in mind was something in the morning. Could you call me at 6:45 in the morning?

The efficient clerk answered, “I accept your apology. I already have a 6:45 wake up call for another room in the morning. I do have a 6:30 open in the morning. Would you like that?”

“Yes”, said Inspector. “That would he fine. So, you will call me tomorrow morning at 6:30, right?”

The desk clerk huffed, “Mr. Inspector, we have certain wage and hour laws here in Dade County.  One of them says that I do not have to labor twelve hours in a row just to wake you in the morning. I certainly shall not be calling you in the morning. The day shift clerk will be making that call to you tomorrow morning. No doubt he will find you as exciting to talk to as I have. Good night.”

Inspector muttered, “Someday all practicing heterosexuals will have to be in the closet.”

Inspector dug deep into his coat pocket and pulled out his favorite self help book, “Late Night Cable TV Get Rich Quick Through Real Estate With No Down Payment and Self Realization Through the Power of Subliminal Self Talk Plus If You Act Right Now A Complete Set of Twelve Cassette Tapes Featuring a Real Live Actor Reading Amortization Schedules For Interest Rates From 6% Through 13% For Fifteen and Thirty Year Fixed Rate Mortgages”. When he needed to program his mind to solve a problem he referred to the book.

He turned to the chapter on self-hypnosis. He repeated the phrase “An answer will come. An answer will come.”

Another quieter voice said, “When will the answer come? What will it be? Will it work? How do you really know the answer will come? Maybe you’re still the same ass-hole you’ve always been and you’ll ultimately look stupid in front of thousands of people that you desperately want to impress. Did you think of that, Stupid? What a jerk you are. Your unmarried parents were right. You’re just an almost gifted Bastard suctioned out of a trailer park septic tank and it’s more than you deserve.

Inspector spoke again, “An answer will come. An answer will come."

The smaller voice said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You know I’m right. I really don’t have time to argue any more. Think what you want. I don’t care.”

Inspector spoke again, “An answer will come. An answer will come.” He fell asleep.

The small voice said, “Maybe.”

Blackboards are tardy because they are always Slate

Adjectives are Noun-Conformists and Adverbs are Just Trampy Little Word Sluts.
Adjectives are Noun-Conformists and Adverbs are Just Trampy Little Word Sluts.

Chapter Four

Adjectives are Noun-Conformists and Adverbs are Just Trampy Little Word Sluts.

The telephone rang and another equally competent voice said, “Good morning Inspector. It is 6:30 in the morning. Time to get up, Continental breakfast in the lobby begins at 6:30 and runs till 6:45. Aerobic Dance Watching is on Channel 8 on TV.”

Inspector switched to Channel 8. As he shaved and dressed he watched young lithe lasses dance in tight leotards on TV. When his heart rate hit 122 per minute he turned off the TV. The answer had come to him in his sleep.

Inspector drove the elevator to the lobby. He worked his way through the sleeping bums and panhandlers in the lobby. One hobo was awake and approached Inspector.

“God Bless you, Son,” said the bum. “I’m working my way to the Veteran’s Hospital and I only need 35 more cents for my bus fare. If I can get to the VA, they’ll prescribe some medication to ease these old war wounds. Yep. Got em in the Big One, WW II, defending our country.”

Inspector was proud to help a Veteran. He gave him the 35 cents. The Old soldier said, “God Bless you, Son.” He sat down at Inspector’s feet and fell asleep.

Inspector looked down at the old warhorse. “Nothing is too good for our disabled veterans. He’ll probably want a cup of coffee when he gets to that VA hospital.” The additional quarter for the coffee that Inspector threw down at the vagrant VET rolled into the open mouth, spun three times on the dry tongue, and landed heads.

Inspector walked into the hotel coffee shop. Ben Tanlong was sitting in a booth. “Inspector. Good morning. I took the liberty of ordering breakfast for you so we can be on our way sooner.”

“Thank you.” said Inspector. “What am I having for breakfast?”

“You’re starting out with bacon, eggs, orange juice, cantaloupe, and fried plantains,” answered Ben.

“Sounds good. Why the plantains?”

Ben replied, “Because the cook is Cuban. The waitress is Cuban. The owner is Cuban and all the other customers in here are Cuban. If we order the plantains, they will think we’re Cuban too and we’ll get a second cup of coffee free.”

As they finished breakfast Ben asked, “Have you devised a way to permanently confine the snakes after we catch them again? We have to ship them all the way back to Samoa.”

“I think I have the answer. Last night I was reading Readers Digress magazine. It stated that most snakes have an utter distaste for masking tape glue.”

Ben said, “Yeah, I read the uncondensed version in Snake Times Magazine but how can that help us?”

“We need two six-foot sections of garden hose. We’ll freeze the snakes, slide them into the hoses, and seal the ends with masking tape.”

“What happens when the snakes start to melt?” chuckled Ben. “Have you thawed about that?”

“When the snakes melt, they will be repelled at both ends of the hose by the masking tape glue. They won’t be able to go anywhere.”

“Well, I hope this works,” said Ben. “Because if it doesn’t, we have strict orders from the Mayor to kill the snakes.”

“Kill? What about the animal lover protests you’ll get?”

“It is true that we get a lot of animal lover petitions but the only resistance we expect to get is from SLIDE, Snakes for Living In Decent Environments.

We do have some people on our side. There’s the militant vocal group that calls for snake eradication. In fact OHS is in favor of destruction of every snake Dade County.”


“Oh for Heaven Snakes,” said Ben.

“Ben, I’m pretty sure my plan will work so I don’t think we’ll have to kill them.”

“The Mayor was very specific about what to do. He wants to barbeque the slithering scoundrels at City Hall with all 3 major television network hookups. He says he going to baste and slather them with ‘I Can’t Frigging Believe It’s Not Butter’ as they wriggle on the grill. We’re going to promote it as the first Open Pit Viper Barbeque.”

Inspector said, “If that happens, I’ll just bow out of the festivities. I guess I’m just not one for snake meat, although they say rattlesnake tastes like fried chicken.”

Ben remarked, “I’ve only had fried rattlesnake twice in my life but for my money it tastes a whole lot more like fried water moccasin.”

Ben paid the breakfast check from a plain white envelope marked “City Funds”. He left a dime tip and swallowed the last of his second free cup of coffee. “We’ve got to get moving. We have to get to Reptile World to pick up Wally. You’ll like Wally. He’s our Dade County snake expert. He does three shows a day over at Reptile World.”

South Samoan Saccharin Snake whose bite may cause Cancer in 30 years

Waving at Wally
Waving at Wally

Chapter Five

Waving At Wally

They entered Reptile World through the giant papier-mâché dinosaur head. Tourists were also entering through the big lizard’s mouth. Ben had shown his Councilman’s card and they had been waved through the mouth free.

They followed the arrows on the prehistoric esophagus walls. The stomach was a large humid theatre. Wally was on stage playing to a full stomach. The stomach was packed with sweating, sunburned, traveler-checkered tourists.

Wally pulled a small alligator from a box and presented it to the audience. He went into great detail why no one can buy alligator shoes anymore. He added, “An adult alligator can out-run an adult man for a short distance.”

The lights went out in the stomach as Wally started a short homemade video. An alligator and a man, both full-grown, were crouched in the starting position on a racetrack.

A pistol was fired. Both contestants got off to a good start. Wally had spoken the Gospel. The fully-grown alligator led the race for the first 13 or 14 feet. The fully-grown man then passed the gator and lapped him three times around the track.

The exhausted alligator wandered into the infield while the fully-grown man kept jogging around the track. The alligator lay down to sun himself and catch his breath, while sipping some Human-Aide.

The fatigued fully-grown man passed out and the alligator bit the man’s left leg right off. His right leg was left on. There was confusion and screaming as the tape ended. Wally was still giggling when the stomach lights came on.

Wally spoke, “I will now show you, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, how to put an alligator to sleep by rubbing his belly.” Wally rubbed the creature’s stomach.

“You must be careful to stroke his stomach. If you rub too high up his belly, he’ll throw up fish all over you. If you rub too far down on his belly, he’s liable to fall in love with your hand.”

He stroked as the gator continued to squirm and fidget.  Wally smiled and dipped his right hand behind the box on stage.  Hidden from the audience, was an open jar of Novocain paste.  Wally dipped his finger into the paste and rubbed the alligator again.

The reptile quickly fell asleep. The audience applauded as he dumped the gator back in the box. He thanked the audience while he tried to rub the feeling back into his right hand.

Wally announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, I am going to close the show by presenting the famous Eastern Diamondback Rattler. This snake, of course, really does not have diamonds on his back.”

He counted two long seconds to himself and said, “They’re really rhinestones. Not diamonds, just rhinestones. Excuse me. Is my microphone on? They’re just rhinestones. Rhinestones, you stupid bunch of Bas. Oh never mind.”

Wally cautiously dragged the six-foot snake from a cage. He held it with both hands. Wally spotted his friend Ben in the audience and waved to him.

When Wally waved he dropped the snake’s head. The audience gasped as the snake swung like a pendulum up between Wally’s legs. Wally did not see his life flash in front of him. His only thought, “Wonder what it’s going to feel like when this big snake strikes my crotch?”

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake’s swing peaked about two inches from Wally's inseam and then started back down. Wally flipped the snake back into the cage.

He tried to pretend that this was part of the show but his tan jungle shorts were now dark and dripping on the stage floor. The audience cheered. Not so much because of Wally’s bravery, but this was the first time that most of them had ever seen even a minor celebrity urinate on stage.

A young couple in the first row had once seen a local TV late-night 50-year-old anchorwoman laugh and banter with the sports guy and then suddenly suffer some stress incontinence in front of Camera Three.

Show-Business-Is-My-Life Wally continued, “Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls, I will demonstrate just how fast this rattlesnake can strike. They move so swiftly that the human eye cannot perceive it. To prove just how fast he moves I’m going to get this little fellow to strike this large balloon.” Wally produced a fully inflated red balloon.

“Watch very closely as I shove the balloon at the snake’s mouth.” Wally pushed the red balloon into the snake’s face. The reptile didn’t move. The balloon didn’t pop.

Wally repeated several times, explaining in his own show-business way, “This usually doesn’t take this long.”

“Let me explain that snakes strike objects that emit heat.  He probably doesn’t think this balloon is alive because it’s not giving off any heat.”

A heckler yelled, “Hey Wally Baby, why don’t you set the balloon on fire?”

He ignored the heckler. “Sometimes, if I wave my hand down with the balloon and then pull it away, the snake is fooled and he’ll strike the balloon.”

Wally tried this movement. The crowd gasped but the balloon didn’t pop. Wally tried this teasing movement three more times but the snake wouldn’t budge.

The first row in the audience in unison yelled, “Shove it down his throat, Wally Baby.”

He raised his voice an octave, “You may, if you’re sharp enough, actually see the rattler strike the balloon.” Wally reached into the box on stage. Hidden from the audience and sitting next to the Novocain paste was a straight pin.

With one motion, Wally shoved the balloon down toward the seemingly comatose snake and popped the balloon with the pin. The snake didn’t move. The audience was amazed. They had not seen the serpent move, yet they had seen and heard the balloon burst.

The Master of Ceremonies ran up to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen. How bout it? Let’s give Wally a big hand.” The audience broke into sporadic clapping, which died before there was any consistency to the applause. 

Wally bowed and then walked down into the audience. Ben introduced Inspector to Wally. Inspector shook hands with Wally. “You were fantastic. You certainly were right about not seeing the diamondback strike. I could have sworn that the snake never moved but you certainly proved that he did.”

Wally laughed, “Oh Inspector, I must be honest with you since we’re going to be working together. I really popped that balloon with a straight pin hidden from the audience. The snake just didn’t want to perform today.”

I don’t know about that,” said Inspector, “but from the looks of your right hand, I’d say he got you real good about nine times.”

Wally glanced down at his huge right hand, budding into a left-handed catcher’s mitt. Each time Wally had shoved the red balloon at the snake, the rattler had bitten his Novocained hand. Wally had not felt a thing.

Wally continued to stare at the big hand hanging on his right arm. He moved his right thumb. He saw it move and thoroughly realized that it really was his own hand. He lost his tan and sat down on the sawdust floor.

Ben remarked, “Well Wally, look at it this way. That Diamondback gave you something that the audience didn’t give you.”

Wally looked up but couldn’t say anything so Inspector asked, “What was that?”

“Why, a big hand, of course,” laughed Ben.

Ben added, “Inspector, we should be leaving. Wally’s not going to be able to help us now and this place is going to be swimming with lawyers in about two minutes. Around here the ambulances chase the attorneys.”

Reinforcements are here from Fly Island

Swat Team vs Two Toddlers
Swat Team vs Two Toddlers

Chapter Six

Swat Team vs Two Toddlers

They exited through the papier-mâché dinosaur’s tight anus and quickly left Reptile World. They arrived at the beach just in time to see two tiny children run by, swinging two snakes around their heads.

The SWAT team brought down the toddlers with a short burst from their automatic weapons. They pried the snakes from the small kindergartener’s cold hands and threw the snakes into an awaiting tank of liquid nitrogen.

Inspector fished the stiff frozen snakes from the liquid nitrogen and laid them on a table. Ben Tanlong spread petroleum jelly on the snake’s heads. Inspector and Ben eased the frozen sticks into the waiting lengths of garden hose. Inspector remembered that he had not had sex in a very long time.

Ben yelled, “Quick, get the masking tape.” 

Inspector sealed the hoses. “It’s over.”

Ben said, “All that’s left now is to ship these snakes back to Samoa and get your money for you.”

“How is my check coming?”

“They told me that your check was spotted in the Accounting department this morning. If all goes well, you’ll be paid within a year.”

Next morning Inspector met Ben for breakfast again. Inspector arrived at the coffee shop first. He ordered eggs, bacon, and plantains for Ben. For himself, he requested his usual four-ounce, vitamin enriched, individually wrapped Breakfast Square.

He was finishing his Breakfast Square when Ben walked up. Ben said, “It’s quite a relief to know that those snakes are finally on their way back to Samoa. I wonder what the city’s next problem will be? You know, many strange things happen to the people that live here in the Bermuda Triangle.”

Inspector was having trouble swallowing the last bit of his Breakfast Square. After he got it down his throat he jokingly asked, “Do you think that it’s safe for me to eat a Breakfast Square inside the Bermuda Triangle?”

Ben laughed, “Yes, I think it’s safe. I don’t think you’re in much danger, especially if you remember to take the wrapper off next time.”

Updated: 07/05/2012, bobsimpson
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