ROOMING WITH A RATTLESNAKE
The desert was a-crunch with distance & thorny miracles when Davy Crockett Reincarnated unintentionally sunk his weels into a dry wash.
Next, he went a-drift looking for any tools nature might provide & cracked his head in a deep hole. Dazed, he built a roof on the hole & now had his very own kiva & a new home – alleluia!
A new stage in his life had begun.
All the critters on that particular slope some months ago had dug-up themselves a leader – the desert squirrel, Yahtzee. Yahtzee declared peace & nobody ate anybody else anymore & low n’ behold, manna had been falling from the crystalline sky ever since.
This particular slope of rocky ravines & colorful views, for Crockett, was heaven ~ but then a rattlesnake full of hell dropped down into his earthical room & declared the both of them to be ~
The snake, whose name was Paragon, was a fair-minded roomie, but told Davy he’d spent some time in the pen & warned him that he, Paragon, wasn’t past biting someone’s eyes out in the middle of the night if crossed.
I got a real nice critter on my hands, sardonically mused Davy to himself & turned over to go to sleep.
But over in the lower corner, scaly Paragon wouldn’t stop rattling. He couldn’t help it. His tail had emphysema, which, in denial, he referred to as “bronchitis”. Incidentally, Paragon was also being tested for diabetes & ate 10 tons of sugar every night. But that’s beside the point we’re trying to get at here.
Later as Davy was dozing off, suddenly, Paragon was standing on the tip of his rattler & towering over him, declaring, “Democracy doesn’t work!”
Roused, Davy hollered, “Get out of my face! I’m trying to sleep!”
Bitterly, Paragon stalked back to the lower corner and continued to thunderously rattle thru the nocturnal hours.
As the world turned & the desert whispered its endless beatitudes, Paragon informed Davy, & re-informed him day after day, that just about all the other critters around weren’t doing their duties & were constantly brown-nosing Yahtzee, while he, Paragon, was the only one who was worth a 10-dollar blanket. “And there’s gonna be race wars in this country before you and I are dead!” he added one evening.
Paragon didn’t approve of Davy’s ways either, & continuously whittled away at him too. One afternoon when they were both sneaking a quick nap after a bite of manna, for example, Paragon whittled, “I doubt you can work a full day.”
Davy winced and quoted, “Our doubts are traitors and makes us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
“What?” hissed the snake.
“That’s a quote from Measure For Measure by Shakespeare,” grinned Davy.
“And I’m an elf owl’s uncle,” spat Paragon. His venom soaked into the earthen floor as he slithered up the ladder, disappeared in the blazing light outside and went back to work.
After several weeks, the fortress walls of Crockett’s peace of mind were completely whittled down, & all the eternal frontiersman could think about was how hard it was not to hate his roomie, the incorrigible rattlesnake who possessed, it seemed, a colossus contempt for all critters other than himself.
Then, one morning Davy burned the beans. “Oops,” he muttered, exhausted after another night of electric jolts in his head caused by Paragon’s miserable rattle.
“Everything you do is wrong,” hissed the snake.
“And everything you do is right, so who cares?” groaned Davy. He stirred the mess in the pot & thought & finally aimed & shot, “You know, Paragon, when a critter believes he’s better than everybody else around him, I’d say that makes him the most low-down of all.”
Paragon blinked once or twice after Crockett’s sly remark, & quit talking. For several weeks the snake didn’t say a word. Whenever he was in the Kiva, all he did was read. Which Crockett soon got used to & before long, he no longer hated Paragon. In fact, he was growing kind of fond of his scaly roommate who was always crawling around on his belly here, there and everywhere.
But something was brewing inside Paragon’s reptile head. And finally to Davy he said, “The difference between me and most everybody else around here is ~ I got integrity.” With that said, Paragon sprang out of the kiva that pretty red sky morning & complained to Yahtzee, the wise desert squirrel, about everything & everybody, & even threatened a couple coyotes, & came back & started packing his bags. He’d just gotten himself kicked out of the community.
Of course, there’s a moral to this tale ~ a little piece of wisdom that you can apply to your own stay in the transitional zone of Veterans Campus. And that moral is: if you don’t like the roommate you got now, don’t worry. Be happy. You’ll get along just fine, sooner or later, like Davy Crockett & Paragon did ~ Paragon, that poor old rattlesnake with the negative aura so thick around him that it was downright impossible for him to see through it.
“Paragon was hard-working & honest tho’,” added Davy, sitting cross-legged in his kiva & sipping coffee ~ as a few days later, yours truly was interviewing him. Davy sat there quietly for a long moment. Finally he concluded, “And, believe it or don’t, that rattlesnake did have some integrity.”
(Copyright Clyde Collins 2012)
The Davy Crockett Reincarnated Almanac