Two nights ago, my wife ate spicy food for supper. I noticed she tossed more than usual during our 8-hour sleep and yelped a few times. Likely a nightmare.
Over our morning cup of coffee, she says that in her dreams, she was attacked by thousands of small snakes that had found their way into our home.
I told her it was likely the spicy food nightmare syndrome. I had heard this explanation on Dr. Phil, or maybe it was Dr. Oz, or perhaps in the checkout line at the grocery, but it was from specialists that tend to know these things. She thanked me for my observation and threw away the Salsa and the leftover packed in Tupperware.
Her dream jogged my memory, which at this age, is welcomed. I am fortunate to have a street-rat-crazy family on my father’s side, so many stories are waiting to be recounted.
Back in the mid-fifties, my late father’s late cousin, Woody, and his late wife, Zennia, lived at the end of a gravel road named “Jungle Lane.” The street was a perfect fit for Zennia, a prolific collector of tropical plants, resulting in her house looking more of a Tarzan movie set than a home. She was also a Tarot card madam, an amateur Botanist, and an aromatherapist. Woody worked as a plumber and mowed the yard.
Zennia orders a rare and deadly plant from her favorite magazine, “Plants Have Feelings Too.” It’s shipped from Burma by boat and will arrive in Fort Worth in June.
The plant arrives via delivery truck on June 15th. Lush and green with large leaves drooping to the floor, the plant is a monster standing at 7 ft and weighing in at 100 pounds. Two men and a dolly struggled to place the beast in Zennia’s living room.
Zennia, being quite the chef, prepares a Burmese dish of Pork Chunks on a bamboo Stick with wafting brown rice and grilled organic vegetables to celebrate the new arrival. She made good use of the sacred Burmese Eden’s Wort, a rare jungle spice made from the powdered bark of the even more rare Eden tree. Woody hates spicy foods and eats a Bologna sandwich and a beer.
Full of Pearl beer, Bologna and Pork Chunks, the two retired early.
Woody, always the early riser, makes his way to the kitchen around 5:30 am, brews a pot of coffee, and returns to the bedroom with a cup for Zennia. Then, switching on the bedside lamp, he screams and drops both cups of coffee, breaking Zennia’s favorite Howdy Doody cup and scalding both feet.
Zennia lay peacefully on her back, hair rolled in Spoolies, wearing her favorite flannel jammies. The once lovely face is swollen and blueish. A large green snake is coiled around her neck, flicking its forked tongue and hissing at Woody.
Zennia is a goner. Woody can do nothing for her, so he contacts the police and asked them to please bring an ambulance and someone from the Zoo; his wife was murdered by a large snake. He thought about shooting the snake with his 12 gauge, but then it would have made a mess of poor Zennia’s face, and then the relatives would have a shit-fit at her funeral because she was messed up. So he decided to let the police and the zoo folks take care of the reptile. He thought Zennia might be pulling a stunt so he poked her leg. The reptile tried to bite him. No stunt. She’s dead. He notices the snake has blue eyes.
Four police officers, two ambulance attendants, a Herpitoligist from the Fort Worth Zoo, and the coroner with a ride-along priest show up thirty minutes later. The few neighbors on the block stand watching the show.
The policemen and the coroner confirms that Zennia died from acute strangulation caused by the constricting movements of the murderous snake. The Herpitoligist said it’s a Burmese Python, but not just any regular one. This is the rare ten-banded, articulating, shape-shifting, smooth-skinned, blue-eyed deadly poisonous “Garden of Eden Python,” a direct descendent of the evil viper that tempted Adam and Eve. Only three are believed to be left alive, and the reptiles can live up to 800 years, and of course, they are endangered and carry a high fine of 10 grand if the serpent is harmed or upset. The priest says that since Adam and Eve are involved and the Bible, the Holy Father in Rome should know of this discovery. It is now gone Biblical.
The Herpatoligist says the snake was likely hiding in the plant when it shipped from Burma and was appraising its new habitat when he found poor sleeping Zennia. Most likely, it was attracted to the odor of the Burmese spices used during supper. The Burmese Eden Tree is the preferred habitat of the deadly reptile, so the spice made it feel right at home. Having not eaten in a while, Zennia was the perfect meal, already seasoned to perfection.
Woody doesn’t give one shit about all this, his wife is dead, and the snake won’t budge. The snake boy says he can’t remove the reptile here but will need to transport the body and the snake to the Zoo.
Desperate, Woody agrees. The convoy loads Zennia and the accompanying snake in the ambulance, and they depart.
Three days later, the snake won’t budge an inch, Zennia is getting ripe and Woody needs to have her funeral and internment. The best he can do is have the service in the snake house at the zoo. Friends and family observe the service from behind a glass window. The zoo choir sings the theme song from the movie “Doctari.” Zennia is buried between the Gorilla enclosure and the Zebra exhibit. The snake is still alive and has its own special exhibit.
My wife stares at me like there is a third eye on my forehead. She thinks the story is bullshit, but I tell her it’s all quite true, and then I explain the moral of the story. “Be careful what you eat because it might cause something else to kill you.”
9 Replies to ““Be Careful, What You Eat May Cause Something Else To Kill You””
I enjoyed the story, as I always do … but there’s no sense in risking a long marriage in the telling of it.
Mustang, she takes everything I write as complete fiction until she finds the bits of truth in it. Thanks for reading.
What an amazing story and all true, you say? Phil, are you in politics, by any chance?
Ha! Herb, only parts are actual. That’s the beauty of fiction. Take a morsel of realism and expound. The cousins lived on a street known as Jungle Lane because of the woods that lined the street. Zennia left a back door open, and a copperhead snake crawled into the house. The snake slithered from under the sofa as they watched television that evening. Woody (Woodrow) Duncan killed it with a shovel during a commercial break. I am not in politics; I detest both sides equally. Most of what I write is based on actual events from the family and friends I have made or met along my way; I only add flavor. Thanks for reading.
You just tweaked it a bit, huh? I would have stared at your third eye, too (thinking of the TZ episode). *blinking*
My next thought would be “…you have a damn strange family.”
In our area, we have many Copperheads. They aren’t known for wandering (slithering?) into peoples’ houses but, you will find many coming out of the grass to warm themselves on concrete or asphalt. They are pretty snakes, even when squished. The tire patterns enhance the pink/tan design.
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Love these tall tales Phil. “Zennia is buried between the Gorilla enclosure and the Zebra exhibit.”…great finish!
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thanks Max, appreciate you reading, and believing.
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I wonder if Jungle Lane ever got paved?
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I believe it did in the 60s. I can’t recall the real name of the street even though my fathers aunt and some of his family lived there. The street was a forest, thus the nickname. That part of Poly was rural and uninhabited by civilized folks. Now, it’s the ghetto.
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