So there sat all the members of the Hunting Club, dumbfounded and howling with glee, along with dozens of other patrons in Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Cafe.
“Justice has been served,” Doc said as the ambulance left.
“I just wonder how long it will take them to open the bag again,” I mused, prompting further gales of laughter.
Oh, wait, you don’t know what’s going on. Let me fill you in.
The excitement began when, in the course of their holiday shopping, John Henry and his family visited a taxidermist shop to look around. It was his lucky day. John Henry was the five hundredth person to enter the shop that weekend. His prize? An extra-large stuffed rattlesnake…coiled to strike.
John Henry’s wife took one look at the coiled snake (fangs prominent) and emptied a plastic Foley’s shopping bag into which he deposited the diamondback. They soon headed home, but hunger got the best of them. In the parking lot of Doreen’s parking lot a dilemma became apparent. His hormonal teenage daughter wasn’t hungry and since the day was nice, she elected to remain in the car and read.
Problem: She wasn’t about to stay in the car with a snake, dead or alive.
John Henry’s wife said the snake wasn’t coming in with them, so the solution was to place the bag in the shade of the car, slightly under and behind the rear wheel. They trooped inside and settled into a booth, which happened to have a clear view of the car. Now everyone could keep an eye on the Macy’s bag and the Major Award.
The family hadn’t even received their iced tea when a new Lincoln pulled up in the lot, discharging a snooty, bouffanted lady. Apparently equipped with Shopping Bag Radar, she spied the bag and with moves that put the cafe’s hunters to shame, put The Sneak on her quarry, all the time casting furtive looks to see if anyone was watching.
With a smooth, fluid motion, the woman scooped up the bag without breaking her stride and entered the cafe. John Henry’s daughter turned a page, never noticing the events that transpired outside her literary world. From inside, we all saw it happen.
Turning up her rather aristocratic nose at the cafe’s occupants, the woman marched past the counter to settle herself at a table, mere feet from John Henry’s fascinated family, and directly beside the ever-present domino game. She sat the bag on the floor.
John Henry slipped out of his seat, ambled over to the Club members who were seated in the large round corner booth and quietly whispered the story to us.
We turned and positioned ourselves to watch the show.
Halfway through lunch the woman just couldn’t stand it anymore. She had to see what she’d scored in the parking lot.
The would-be thief placed the bag on the seat beside her and peered inside. Apparently her astigmatism wouldn’t allow her to get a clear look what was in the bottom. She reached for the glasses on the chain around her neck and perched the spectacles on her nose. She peeked again.
REPORT: A stuffed snake-in-a-sack looks just like a live one.
With a jolt like she was hit with 10,000 volts of electricity she screeched in terror, recoiled from the bag, launched to her feet, and fell backward onto the domino table in a drop-dead faint. Dominoes scatted across the floor and for the game halted for first time in weeks.
She rolled off the table onto the floor, foundation garments made public. Her heavily sprayed, blue-haired head dribbled like a loose basketball for a moment. When she was out of the way Mr. Joe Guymon played the deuce-five and scored fifteen points.
The limp plastic bag closed.
Things unraveled even more when a pair of off-duty paramedics joined the fray. In the confusion, John Henry couldn’t just walk over and pick up something that supposedly belonged to the woman, so we watched as one of the paramedics deposited the bag and her purse on the foot of the lady’s departing gurney. This set off another series of shrieks from the now revived and strapped down individual.
“I know just how she feels.” Doc’s terrified of snakes himself.
The cafe erupted into waves of laughter after the noisy trio left for the ambulance.
“There goes my snake,” John Henry sighed.
“Where are you going?” I asked Wrong Willie.
He put on his coat. “To the hospital. I’ve gotta be there when they open that bag again.”