Sunday, August 8, 2010

Danger in the Swamp

I once took a shortcut through the Okefenokee Swamp that was almost the death of me. I was on my way to Tebeauvilee, where my wagon was being repaired, and despite warnings from locals I thought the route would save me some time. I was not worried since I was wearing a good pair of buffalo hide boots and carrying a bottle of Wizard Water© in my back pocket. As I waded through the murky water, though, snakes repeatedly lashed out at my legs. I could feel the impact as they struck the boots. The leather was so thick though, that their fangs just stuck fast. Before long there were a couple dozen snakes attached to my boots, their tails lashing wildly in the water.

All that ruckus attracted the attention of a bull alligator. Bull alligators are the largest type of meat-eating water lizard. This one was about twice the length of my wagon and at least as wide. He likely took the splashing as a sign of a drowning animal. I noticed him slide off a log and head in my direction. I knew there was no way I could outrun him.

I reached a shallow spot where my boots were exposed to air and pulled the bottle of Wizard Water© out of my back pocket. Quickly I tapped a few drops onto the backs of the snakes and waited a couple seconds. The alligator was coming up fast. The snakes grew faster though. They expanded so much there was hardly room for one body against the next, but the heads were still stuck fast in the boots and the tails writhed like Medusa's wig.

The alligator lunged at me. He had not counted on the action of the enlarged tails, however. Whap! Whap! Whap! Several dozen snakes whipped across his snout with force of snapping bridge cables. He was knocked back a few feet. He came at me again, and was again knocked back. He would not give up. Again and again he lunged, more times than I could count. Finally the beast lost consciousness and the snakes beat him to death.

I managed to drag the body to a dry hillock. There I skinned it. I took the hide with me to Tebeauvilee, where I had it turned into a fine pair of boots to replace the snake-bitten pair.

The alligator hide boots proved even better than the buffalo hide boots. For one thing, they were waterproof. For another, considering their previous owner's single-mindedness, I'd have to say that they were at least twice as thick.

As for the old boots, I tried cutting off the snake bodies from that pair, but they just kept growing back. I finally sold them to a lawyer running for political office, who used them as an example of the wily ways of his opponents. He lost that election, but the boots were such an attention-getter that he used them for three more election campaigns.

One thing you can count on in this world: the persistence of reptiles and politicians.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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