Here’s Bill in his baggy white underpants, barefoot with a dead tree branch in his hand. It’s dark. It’s late. He and I are outside hunting for a snake. I have a flashlight the size of a pencil in my hand.
I’d gone looking for my big, red maine coon cat in his large, covered cat yard. Karl hadn’t made his usual squeaking noises when I opened his wire door and called for him to come with me into the house.
All I have is that tiny flashlight in the late dark and I can’t find Karl. I thrash through the tall zinnias and point the light into the spiky, yellow wild primroses. Nope. Not here. I trip a bit and grab the side of the wire yard just in time. Then I look under Karl’s favorite bush. Nope.
“Here Kitty, Kitty Karl…here Kitty!”
Ahhh, here he is crouched next to the wire, staring intently at something. I’m saying, “…Hey, Karl…what’s up?”
Well, what’s up is a snake! Curled up! On the other side of the wire.
Oh boy. I look but I can’t see if it’s a small rattler or a friendly snake.
…And, I’m worried because every night Karl insists he has to spend all night out here.
A few days ago, I saw coyote tracks in the soft dirt beside the yard. And, now a snake. The yard is covered on top with chicken wire but with enough patience something could dig under the yard wire. Or slide through the wire holes.
I have to get Bill. He’s in his studio and probably asleep, but this is serious.
So, this is how Bill has ended up outside now in the dark in his baggy underpants with my flashlight and the tree branch in his hand. He’s also been drinking which makes him fool hardy. Otherwise, he would not be out here in the night, practically naked and barefooted.
This is a man who has ‘Spider sticks’ which are thin fruit tree branches, and golf clubs stashed all over the property so he can beat the spider webs off himself in the mornings.
“Aren’t you afraid you might step on the snake?” I say.
Bill is bouncing around in the dark, bare flesh and big feet in the moonlight. He can’t see without his glasses and he’s not wearing them.
He must have drunk a full bottle of wine.
Finally and fortunately, we agree that the snake has slithered away somewhere. He’s smarter then the two people thrashing around in the dark, I would say.
The late meeting is adjourned and Bill disappears into his place.
When I mention to Bill in the morning that he was out in the dark chasing snakes barefooted and almost bare-assed, I suspect he will disagree with me, claiming to have been fully clothed and shoed.
But, I swear I have never seen the man outside the house without shoes. He even wears them, inside his house.
It’s kind of like the evening my cat dislodged a huge, long, thick centipede with multitudes of fat legs, off my bed in the night. I heard them both thrump to the floor…turned on the light….started screaming and ran to get Bill.
I was very puzzled when Bill came lurching to my aid and kept falling into and against all the walls in the hall and in my bedroom as he tried to catch the fast centipede.
Bill was hugely unsuccessful. I kept thinking, “What is wrong with this man?”
Bill told me the next day that a friend of his had mailed him a bunch of pills and said, “Take them.”
He did and found in my emergency that he couldn’t stay upright.
He agreed with me that it was a really stupid thing to take a lot of nameless pills because someone told you to.
But, all in all….pills or wine or whatever….and perhaps no matter how inept… it never hurts to have a man around the house. There’s a nice feeling of security with a man even if in practice the poor fellow is rarely prepared for your emergencies.
And P.S. To be perfectly clear, it was Bill wearing the underpants. Not the snake.