Torrey, my friend who lived next door to my grandparents was a great fishing partner. When I’d spend a week at my grandparents, we’d fish constantly. The fish didn’t bite well in the summer heat, but after sundown, they became very active. After supper, we’d head down to the river with a lantern and our tackle. We’d continue fishing until well after midnight and sometimes until as late as 3a.m.
One year a water moccasin moved into the area below the dam. Sometimes in the daytime he could be seen swimming in the large hole where we caught the carp. He looked to be at least seven feet long. Knowing he was around put us on high alert, so we scanned the area with a flashlight before settling in to fish. Not having much luck in the big hole, we decided to go fish in the potholes around the area. These holes formed by rocks becoming stuck in a depression, and as the heavy currents poured over the rocks, these became grindstones that moved back and forth with the current to carve out these holes. They were smooth and some were very deep. We couldn’t reach the bottom with a stick.
Fish would often get trapped in these holes and were easy pickings. Some of these holes were no bigger than the size of a dish, but behind the muddy water was a fish ready to be caught. I’d drop my line into the hole and a fish would snag it. I’d keep catching until I got no more bites. After heavy rains, these were good places to catch fish.
We were going along the holes catching fish when I had a strange encounter. I stepped across a watery hole, and while straddling it, something started thrashing wildly. Thinking it might be a big fish, I called for Torrey to hand me the flashlight. It was something big alright, but it wasn’t a fish. It was the giant water moccasin. He was striking at me and had missed at least six times. How, I have no idea. Must be me putting my guardian angel to work again.
Upon our discovery, we knew it was our opportunity to kill the beast of terror. Torrey went after a stick. He then asked for me to shine a light so he could see. Torrey found a satisfactory club and returned. But in the moment the light was off the snake, he disappeared. I had no idea which way he went. We cautiously hunted, but didn’t find him.
The next night we returned with our fishing gear, but this time we knew the snake was nearby, so we were on high alert. Torrey already had a battering club in hand. It was dark, so we shined the flashlight before walking anywhere. As we walked across the rock face, Torrey froze. I stopped and said, “What?”
“I think you better move,” he said.
I looked down and my foot was inches from the snake’s head. The curved rock provided a shadow just deep enough to keep the snake out of my view. But when Torrey crested the rock, his flashlight beam unveiled the shadow. I calmly screamed and did a backflip. Torrey eased over the rock, keeping the snake in the beam. He handed me the flashlight and put down his tackle. “Don’t take the light off him.”
Torrey then eased up to the snake, raised his club, and struck the snake’s head. It started to move, but he struck it again, and again, and again. He kept hammering away for quite some time. “Torrey,” I said, “You can relax. He’s very dead.”
Undeterred, he kept hammering. “I’m making sure that no part of him is alive.”
Note to self. Don’t make Torrey angry.
Eddie Snipes 2012
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