posted on Jun, 3 2012 @ 09:11 PM
"Is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope pee in the woods?"
This was Danny's response to my question of whether he was being serious. He could, probably should have, answered: "Serious as a heart attack!",
but instead he answered with that stupidity. How the hell was I supposed to know he was too scared to know he had just mangled his response to the
point of nonsensical. I thought he was joking.
Danny stood there, his back to me, his shoulders curved inward with his arms mostly hidden by his back, looking downward, appearing as if he was
peeing. Danny was a real clown. No really, a real clown as in he went to clown school and graduated with top honors. His clown name was Do-Do the
Clown, and Danny could offer up a handshake only to throw his leg over the extended arm of the person he had just invited to shake his hand with the
best of them...of clowns that is. Danny could also joybuzz a handshake with the best of them. Danny could squirt soda from an atomizer with the best
of them. Danny was a real clown.
Of course, out here in the desert, where no bears are Catholic, and Popes don't generally pee, Danny had left his clown suit and rainbow colored wig
with the big red nose, and big red shoes back at home. Who goes camping in a clown suit? Thank the Lord Danny doesn't. God only knows what would
have happened had he worn his clown suit today. I don't know if reptiles can discern colors, or discern humans from clowns, but I kind of suspect
that had Danny worn his clown suit today things would have gone a lot different...like gone horribly wrong.
Not that it was even an issue. Danny wearing his clown suit, I mean. It's not like I have to constantly argue with Danny about the
inappropriateness of wearing a clown suit when off the clock. Danny gets it. If he's not entertaining at a child's birthday party, or some other
sort of gig, Danny dresses pretty normally. I mean he likes to wear polyester a lot, but outside of that, he dresses pretty normally. Today he was
dressed in a lot of khaki and mesh clothing because...well, because we were camping in the desert and up until this moment our camping trip had been
Sure, we saw a few coyote's hanging near by at dusk last night, but the coyote's seemed more afraid of us than we did of them. We ate beans and
beef jerky, sang (badly) a few folk songs we could remember the lyrics to, and then wound the night down singing rock anthems while drinking tequila.
We drank enough tequila that this morning the both us were feeling rather poorly. I felt so bad I accused Danny of beating the crap out of me last
night while I was sleeping. Danny tried to smile at that, but winced and said: "Well, if I did, the way I feel, you must of defended yourself
nicely", and then he walked a few paces north with his back to me.
"Where you going?" I asked. "Nature calls" was his reply. I had to go too, but apparently nature was calling a different tune with me and the
tequila and my stomach were in a horrible row with each other so I waddled south a few paces and squatted to let my stomach repulse the jerky, beans,
and tequila. It all came out rather quickly and messily, because....well, because my stomach was angry with me for drinking so much tequila. As I
wiped the mess I noticed that Danny was still standing facing north. I pulled up my pants and walked a little closer to him.
"Damn, what are you doing, pissing a river?" I asked, lamely trying to be funny. Danny didn't answer. "Danny?" I queried. "Shhhhhhh" was
his reply. "What?" I asked and started to walk closer to him. Danny could hear my footsteps and tensely commanded I stay where I was and not
move a step closer. "Why?" I demanded. "Are you afraid I'll see your pee-pee? It ain't like I ain't seen it before, and I got to tell you it
ain't no big thing."
"I just pissed all over a rattle snake, and now the goddamned snake looks really pissed" Danny kind of whispered loudly.
"Shut up." I said.
"No. You shut up." He said, but this time it wasn't like all the other times he and I were clowning around. This time he seemed to desperately
want me to shut up. I whispered softly: "Are you serious? Did you really piss on a snake? Is there really a snake there?"
"Is a bear Catholic? Does the pope pee in the woods?"
I thought about this a moment, and then through my throbbing headache of pain I mustered a grin. "Ahggggg! What kind of dope do you take me for?"
I started to walk up behind him to slap him on the back when I heard the rattle. Like a death rattle amplified, like an ominous baby rattle rattling
deadly warnings, like a mystifying shaman doing his medicine dance rattle, I could finally see the coiled rattle snake, rattling its rattler as if it
were about to strike at Danny at any second. I could hear Danny's breath, heavy and sporadic. I stood there for a second that must have taken three
weeks to pass, and then I knew I had to do something to help poor Danny standing there with his pants down, his putter in his hand, terrified that
this was how he would go, and even for a clown, I imagine that imagery was none too funny.
I bent down slowly and quietly and picked up a stick near me that was around three feet long. I stood erect as quietly as I bent, and step by
painfully quiet step, side stepping Danny and ever so slowly walking around he and the snake, I positioned myself behind the snake that clearly had
Danny hypnotized, but strangely it also appeared as if Danny had the snake hypnotized.
"No! Don't do anything. Please! Just stand still". Danny pleaded. "What is your plan? Are you just going to wait the snake out?" "Yeah!
That's the plan." I realized Danny was terrified and I couldn't blame him but his plan was lame, and I figured any snake, even a rattler, was no
match for two grown men. So, I nodded my head indicating I was looking behind Danny and asked him: "Do you plan on waiting out both of them
snakes?" Danny jerked his head around quickly to see what other snake I was talking about, and when he did the real - and only - snake recoiled as
if it were now going to strike, so I drove my stick down on the snake hard. As Danny turned back to face me he could see that I had managed to pick
the snake up with the stick, the snake coiling around the stick while still rattling, and then I tossed the stick as far as I could throw it.
Somewhere mid arc, before the stick began its descent, the snake fell off the stick and plunked down on the ground, and Danny and I ran like two bats
out of hell towards the SUV. We sat in the vehicle for at least forty minutes hardly saying a word, before finally finding the courage to get out and
start packing up our gear. We packed quietly and carefully, unsure what we might find in our sleeping bags, or any of the equipment, but all was
fine, we were safe and unharmed, but still had little to say. What can you say after a moment like that?
I guess we could have laughed and laughed and slapped each other on the backs and high fived each other like we were two rugged men of nature, but
truth be known, we had never felt so citified as this day here in the desert staring down the black beady eyes of a scaly serpent with toxic venom and
a scary death warning of a rattle. The city, tonight, has never looked so welcoming, so urbanely safe and sound.
I don't know if bears are Catholic, but I doubt Popes pee in the woods.