Sometimes everything is clear, but still makes no sense.
The lineman stood looking at the snake hanging out of an old switch box. He studied it for awhile, amazed at how it had been able to squeeze through a knockout in the bottom of the box and grab the mouse.
He reached over and pulled the mouse from the snake’s jaws and held it up by the tail. Not a very pretty sight, he thought, as he popped it into his mouth and began to chew. Ummm…a little rubbery, but not all that bad. After he swallowed the last of it he reached into his pocket, pulled out his knife, unfolded it and began cutting the snake into small, bite-size pieces.
Randy and his friend Matt were sitting in Randy’s living room watching a local news report about an unidentified lineman from the power company who’d “cannibalized” a snake while working in someone’s backyard. Apparently a neighbor had seen the incident from across the street, and caught most of it on his cell phone video.
“That sure does look like it might be Bob Ritter,” said Randy, as he took a swig of beer and winked at Matt. “He really is one strange character. I remember driving down 223 late one afternoon and seeing his truck pulled over by the side of the road near the old Johnson place. As I drove past I could see him bent over something that was lying on the ground. I slowed down a bit, thinking he might need some help. But he stood up and waved me on. That’s when I noticed that he was holding something bloody in his hands. I wondered what the hell he was up to. A couple of days later it occurred to me that I’d seen a dead coyote right around that same spot the day before.”
“I’ve been kinda wondering about him ever since. Did you know he pulls down nearly a hundred grand a year just taking care of them damn power lines? I mean, you’d think with that kind of money he could at least afford to stop by Denny’s, or some other place when he got a little hungry.”
Randy finished his beer, then got up and went to the kitchen to get another. On the way he glanced over at Matt, who was stretched out in the recliner by the window. His eyes were closed, and it looked like he’d fallen asleep. But he wasn’t asleep. He’d been in that same position, noticeably decomposing for nearly three weeks.
They were having a conversation about how people in the area had been behaving very strangely over the past few months. Randy was in the kitchen making himself a sandwich, while Matt was describing in considerable detail the peculiar behavior of his next door neighbor. When Randy came back from the kitchen, Matt was still rambling on but his speech seemed to be getting slurred, and nothing he said was making any sense. Slowly his eyes began to close, and his voice gradually became inaudible. And then he stopped breathing. And that was that.
Matt was dead. But somehow that wasn’t enough to put an end to their friendship. As long as Matt remained sitting next to the window, Randy didn’t have to deal with him being gone, literally. It was a little like Norman Bates, in the film Psycho, who left his dead mother sitting upstairs for ten years in her rocking chair. Of course Randy knew he’d eventually have to face up to it and call someone. He just wasn’t ready yet.
He stood there for awhile, looking out the window. Then he patted Matt gently on the shoulder, and continued to the kitchen to get his beer.
* * *
The lineman was arrested a few days later while attempting to break into the home of Mr. Randolph Pierce, a local resident, who was recently hospitalized as a result of inhaling a near-lethal dose of Febreze air freshener.