I’d been back from Thailand visiting the states for three weeks. I hated it. I missed the village life and sunshine. I missed fishing every afternoon/evening. I wouldn’t be returning to Thailand for another four or five weeks. I guess I can’t whine too much really. At least I would get to leave and go back there soon enough. If it had snowed one more time in Boston though I’d likely to have gone running down the street screaming and tearing hunks of hair out of my skull.
I did get to miss all the excitement one Tuesday a couple of weeks earlier at the Isaan village house while I was away, for which I may be thankful for, and which may even have saved me from a serious injury, possibly.
My wife called me one Tuesday night from Isaan Thailand, and woke my tired, still jet lagged, and stressed-out ass up (there’s a twelve hour time difference, they’re twelve hours ahead of EST). She sounded funny, as though she was trying to remain calm, but actually was excited about something. I know my woman quite well now, and can usually pick up on her hidden signals and emotions now-a-days. Wait’ll I write about the fights. (One between me and her, and one between her and her Sis.) Trouble in paradise you say? Nah. Interesting cultural differences story though.
My wife tells me on the phone this night that we had a “snay ‘n how” … which I finally interpreted, after a few minutes confusion, to mean “a snake in the house”.
“Holy shit! Where?” I queried her in my excitement.
“In kighen.” In the kitchen.
“Where in the kitchen?”
In the refrigerator? How the hell did it get in the refrigerator?
“Wife, is this a snake you bought to eat?”
“NO! NO! NO! Not insigh (inside), no eat darling. (This said in exasperation, as if she would never deign to eat a snake. How the hell am I to know? She’ll eat damned near anything else. I thought maybe she was excited about a new dish to eat, maybe.) Under the refrige!”
“Uh, which refrigerator darling?” (We have three in the kitchen areas.)
“The one for shop!”
Oh. That’s right. We have four reefers, including that one. How the hell did it get inside there? A week before I had left for the states I had put up a good batch of chicken wire on the blue painted steel bars that surround the whole kitchen area, to keep out the cats and the damned chickens. The steel bars keep the crooks out, as things keep disappearing as though they’ve grown legs and walked away never to be seen again. Small things, but irritating none the less and a problem I wished to end. Mainly I put up the chicken wire because one morning I went out to the sink to get my coffee cup, barefoot I’ll add, and stepped on a big pile of green chicken shit I was still too sleepy to notice underfoot. I vowed that day to suspend all the chickens kitchen privileges, and went out and bought a roll of chicken wire. It was up that same afternoon.
“Wife, how’d the snake get inside through my new chicken wire fencing?”
“Doan know. Think Mama leave door for kitchen open for cat she.”
Great, I go to the trouble to fix this problem and Mama just leaves the gate/door open for her stupid unfriendly cat. Silly village folk.
“What kind of snake was it, Wife?”
“Oh, big snake! Velly big! Same my arm!”
Same her arm? What the hell?
“Oh crap! You mean the snake’s as big as your arm?”
“Big. Okay, but what kind of snay dear?”
“OH, POISON SNAY! VELLY BIG! I doan know name for English.”
“Was it a cobra dear?” (Oh God, please say no.)
“YES, COBLA! Dis is name for English. Big poison! Big snay!”
Ah jeez. Now I have a damn cobra, a big one, maybe what, a very poisonous King Cobra, under the refrigerator of my Isaan kitchen? Great. Maybe an Isaan Spitting Cobra? The very reefer, now shut off, as it is not being used at present, that we have stowed some tools and supplies in. The very same reefer that I was rummaging around in and under just last week it seems while putting up said chicken wire fence. Shit.
“Where is the snake now, Wife?”
“Good. How did you see it under the fridge?”
(This is a commercial reefer, such as the ones you open the top front and get your beer, cola, whatever, from down inside, very deep, and if a snake got under it and went back to the wall it sits against it would be very hard to see the damned thing, until it bit your ankle as you stand there disturbing the highly venomous sucker underneath.)
“Mama’s cat see. I see cat look under fridge. Not go away. Make want to kill snay. (Hissing and growling at the snake I interpreted this to mean.) Me look under fridge where cat look. See snay!”
“What did you do when you saw the big cobra, dear?”
“Scleem too mutt. Run outsigh. Get man flum village to kill snay!”
“So did the men from the village eat the snake darling?”
(I know someone ate the damned thing. No way they just killed the thing and threw it away! I imagine it’d be tasty with the right noodles and sauces.)
“Yes, man kill snake, eat.”
I knew it.
Nothing like getting the weekly news from back home in Isaan.
Jeez. I have never had a cobra in my kitchen before. That’s a first after all the years I’ve been up there. Anyone know where I can buy an anti-venom kit for Cobra bite?
(The Central Scrutinizer)
This story was written in March of 2003. All rights reserved by the author.
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