Jake; A Story of a Killer
JAKE; A STORY OF A KILLER
It all started when he was just a pup. It was innocent enough. A chance meeting in the back yard between a very impressionable young Great Dane puppy and an altogether
uninterested snake. The result would scar the tiny moose for life.
My family and I were enjoying a very nice, warm spring day with a
picnic in the back yard of an old farmhouse we were remodeling.
Jake was in the shin high grass practicing his gangly leaps when
he froze and let out an eerie “back of the throat” yelp. It wasn’t
loud but the tone made everyone stop and look his way. By now Jake
was trying, without much success, to back-peddle over his disproportioned
legs. His gangly back legs finally dug in and the extra puppy skin
he was sporting started to coil around him. In an instant, the look
of terror that gripped his face turned to the most ferocious look
I’ve ever seen on a dog before or since. Lawerence Welk would have
marveled at the power and grace as Jake unleashed the skin accordion
hugging his ribs. Instead of the perky sound of a polka, the
soundtrack sounded much like the pit bull fights my uncle and the
boys had behind the Cloverleaf bar and grill. All we saw was a
dusty ball of flying legs and ears. As quick as the ordeal began,
the pup dropped silently to his stomach and turned his head our way.
His look had changed again to the conquering hunter smirk witch was
accentuated by an eighteen-inch garden snake hanging from his
slobbery mouth. Add a top hat and it would have been Snidely
Whiplash at the moment he tied the girl to the tracks.
From that moment Jake was on a mission. He would single-handedly
rid the world of his ziging and zaging foe. Many family dinners were served with picture window entertainment compliments of the ever-vidjulent guardian of the back yard. For hours, Jake would crouch on all fours staring intently on a small crack between the lid of our septic system and the tank itself. Jake must have heard the rustle of sand as the snakes rocketed up the hole because his ears would perk up and he would stand up with only his back legs keeping his chest and massive front legs glued to the ground. This posture looked uncomfortably awkward but as soon as that snake slipped its scaly little body into the grass Jake launched his front legs and reared his head like a wild stallion. One hundred plus pounds of pure snake hating fury was unleashed in an instant in a crushing blow, usually two feet to the left of the snake, who just shifted gears. The chase was on! He looked like a baby kitten bounding from one miss to another with his tail sticking straight up the whole time. A kitten on steroid formula 9-lives. Eventually the snake would either make it to the fence, and freedom, or would succumb to Jakes thundering pursuit. I cant help wondering if the snakes sent their speediest snakes out to lure Jake to war and the rest of the bunch slithered safely to the fence. Hey, that's what a farm boy dreams of at night. His crusade also provided hours of entertainment for my brother and I by providing us an endless supply of racing snakes. We were the rave of the countryside. Boys came from miles around to see the snake races. On a good day we would draw two or three awestruck hillbillies from down in the holler We lived out a ways. Jake, as usual, was the king of the show as he pranced up to Clem and Cletus and dropped a fresh racer at their feet so they could join the reindeer games. Line them up in the yard, lay your best marble down, and let them go. The first petrified snake to traverse the tangle of grass and the barrage of clumsy blows from Jake and dive into the septic crack wins. Marbles and bragging rights.
The racing scene soon got old so we devised a way to spice it up.
The ditch out in front of our house always flooded in the spring
making a perfect water racetrack. My brother would release the
contestants at one end and run beside the ditch screaming words of
encouragement to his racer. Jake thought this was a great game.
He would keep pace with brother Bill on the opposite side of the
track barking equally encouraging cheers to my racer. The setup was
a smashing success until the smashing incident with that speeding car. Jake was real sorry he smashed that nice mans fender and just couldn't figure out why we were ushered to the back yard and the Keene Bros. Racing Enterprises were shut down for good. We didn’t like it much either, but my Dad made it infinitely clear that it was, in fact, closed for good.
That only proved to strengthen our need for speed. We threw the mini
bike into the equation. Changed the whole curve. Round and round we would ride. It was just like Nascar. Drive fast. Turn left. Our version took it one step further than those sissy millionaire racers. WE had to dodge an endless onslaught of lightning fast snake and clumsy pursuits by small ponies. Eat your heart out Gordon!
I have mixed emotions about the demise of old Jake. One day
he came up to me as proud as punch and laid his bounty at my feet.
In my impetuous youth, I picked up the snake and tossed it straight
into the fire I was tending. After watching the snake coil around
its own blistering skin I looked to Jake for approval. Instead what
I saw was a confused look in his eyes as he cocked his head sideways.
He seemed to be thinking that I didn’t appreciate his offerings
anymore. He lowered his head and trotted away. I shrugged my
shoulders and went back to watching my snake kabob. The next morning
Jake wasn’t at the well pit. He wasn’t at the track. In fact,
I didn’t see Jake until mid-afternoon when he emerged from the barn
and strutted up to me once again as proud as punch. This time it
wasn’t a snake he had to offer, but my Mom’s Siamese cat. Apparently
cats aren’t quite as resilient as snakes because little kitty looked
a little worse for wear. Shortly after the beating he received, Jake
left our farm. I don’t know if it was on orders or he just ran away
but I sure hope he found a good life. Maybe plowing fields or
something. One thing is for sure, old Jake still hates the site and
mere mention of the word serpent.