Last Laugh: The Barn Rat and the Black Snake

One woman's fear of barn rats and black snakes rats didn't stop her from beating one to death with the other.

| May/June 1983

  • last laugh - barn rat, black snake
    Whether the demise of a barn rat is or isn't funny probably depends on who tells the story.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

  • last laugh - barn rat, black snake

Well sir, a fella I respect, name of Tim Comstock, once got a letter from an old friend what said, "Sometime I'd like to tell you the story of how I scalded my belly, but not now. It’s not funny quite yit." And that's perzackly how I feel right now. Sometime, if I kin git over the embarrassment, I'd like to tell you what happened just the other day when the fellas of the Plumtree Crossin' Gen'ral Assembly got messed up with the Barren County Ladies Auxiliary and Highminded Civic League for the second time. But no ... no, I can't bring myself to recount that tale jist yit.

In the meantime, then, you'll be glad to know that Angus MacLander — who, last fall, provided us with a humorous tale about wood gatherin' the easy way — has again blessed us with an entertainin' yarn of his own, titled ...

Ebenezer (the Barn Rat) and the Black Snake "Bullwhip?"

I'd hardly crested Shale Knob on the Hill Road, when I noticed the ambulance. It'd just rounded Spencer's Curve, which put it about 200 yards back and closing fast. Notin' the ditches on both sides of that narrow farm road, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor, my pickup's engine roared, and the race was on. By the time I reached the long straight stretch at the base of the hill, I was doing 55 MPH ... but a glance at my rearview mirror left me feeling like a rabbit with no hole in sight and the hounds right on its tail. I recognized Curly Scheer behind the wheel, and saw his co-pilot, Hartley Steele, waving frantically.

By the time my speedometer showed 65, Curly had turned on his wipers to clear away the dust I was throwing, and his mouth was forming words I was right glad I couldn't hear. An' we were just about to the end of that straight stretch, when my heart plumb stopped. An old black car was headed right at us. But in the split second whilst I was deciding which ditch to head for, and trying to remember whether or not my insurance had run out, I realized we all had the same destination: Burt's place. A good many red and blue lights were already on the scene, flashing like frantic fireflies. Well, I hit my brakes, the dark car turned into Burt's place, and my truck and the ambulance skidded into the driveway as one.

Doc was out of his old black clunker, bag in hand and heading for the farmhouse, before Curly could get the ambulance's door open to yell at me.

"Dang fool, why didn't you get out of the way?"


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