I hop into John Everhart’s van.
No, he didn’t offer me candy. I kind of wished he did, because on the side of this particular van is a picture of John and a rather big, ugly Burmese Python. Over the picture in a font that probably predates the 1970’s is the moniker; John Everhart Snake Whisperer.
The back of the van is hollowed out and now holds floor to ceiling stacked wire cages, except in one corner where an emergency venom first aid station resides. Several long poles with hooks on the end hang over the cages. They look like something Captain Hook might use to play pool with, however later I learned these were simply called Snake Hooks and Scoops and that the Captain Hook joke didn’t make John laugh at all.
We were on our way to the sugar cane farms around the Everglades of Florida. The sugar cane attracts a large number of wildlife including rats, birds, turtles, and the Florida Sugar King Snake.
John: The Sugar King is not the snake we have to worry about.
Me: Really? Because in my opinion, all snakes we need to worry about. They are all evil and…snakey.
John: I don’t think snakey is a word. Are you not a fan of snakes?
Me: Let’s just say as a kid I begged my parents for a mongoose after watching the movie; Riki Tikki Tavi. I stayed up all night with a baseball bat in one hand and a can of Raid in the other.
John: Raid will do nothing on snakes. I love all snakes, man…from the Big King Cobras to the cute little Garter snake. Listen dude, snakes are your friends, except the ones that can kill ya. Remember, those snakes are not your friends. Stick to the snakes that don’t kill you.
Me: Gotcha. Really wise and powerful words…and totally obvious. What snake are we whispering to today?
John: Haha! You a funny boy, aren’t you? Today we are after a Diamondback Rattlesnake. They are considered to be the most dangerous of all snakes in North America. If we are lucky we will also come across a Burmese Python. There are lots of them out there because people get them as pets as babies, then they get too big, so they release them in the wild. They are pretty docile, but they will squeeze you to death for a bite of your pretzel.
This is the point where I start choking on a soft pretzel I was eating.
John: Just joking there good buddy. See my jokes are better than your stupid Captain Hook joke, and we don’t actually whisper to them you know…that’s just something fancy I put on the van to attracted business.
I throw the rest of the pretzel out the window. John’s job is to remove unwanted snakes (like there would ever be a wanted snake in my book!) from people’s homes and farms. John does this with the Captain Hook pool cues stored in the back of the van and also by employing ancient Indian/Asian snake charming practices. That is to say he doesn’t wear the turban and play the annoying gourd flute, but rather moves his head and body in such a way as to make the snake think he is a threat.
In other words, yes…John is a crazy son of a bitch.
We travel down some dirt roads, probably the last of the hold outs in the modern world of paved roads…leave it to Florida. As the van rearranges my spine with each bump and jarring from the uneven terrain, John throws out several disturbing snake facts.
Here are a couple of the less boring/disturbing ones:
“…did you know a snake can eat a deer? Yup! It can barf up one too…”
“…there are no snakes in Iceland…”
“…snakes shed their skin like 5 times a year, my ex-wife has a new husband every 5 years…”
“…snakes lay eggs…so do your jokes funny boy…”
“…snakes smell the air with their tongue…speaking of smelling air, you may want to roll down your window in 3…2…”
About 30 minutes after the worst smelling fart in the history of snake wranglers, we reached our destination. It was a small sugar cane farm owned by The Huberts Family. I was told the Huberts Family had owned this farm for over 30 years.
I didn’t really care how long the Hurberts Family owned the farm. All I cared about was that there was some sort of slithering devil beast on the loose, and I, without my tank and bazooka. John walked over and talked to Old Man Hubert who was probably only around 30 years old or so, but I wanted to add color to the story.
John walked back over to me, “Old Man Hubert said that they have been spotting the Diamondback over on the south end of property.”
Me: He is not really that old is he?
John: Not really. Seems kind of silly to call him Old Man, doesn’t it?
Me: Yeah…do you want me to grab the Captain Hook pool sticks?
John: Still not funny.
We grab the hooks, scoops, and a cage and head through the muck to the south end of the farm.
John: Now, the snake will probably stick to the driest places it can find…it’s not fond of wet areas…unless the snake is a lesbian! Haha! Now that’s how you tell a joke funny boy! Don’t move!
Me: What?! Don’t move? Why?!
John: Don’t move…just stand still. The snake is near your left foot.
Me: What?! Do something!
Me: I’m Shhh-ing!
John stood up on one foot and held a Captain Hook pool stick in one hand and a scoop in the other. With in mere seconds he pinned the head of the rattler and scooped the snake into the cage.
John: Alright, city boy. All done. Let’s go change your underwear.
Me: Yeah…great…is there a Target near here?
A couple of notes:
1) There were no Targets near there
2) Never try to catch snakes by yourself. Please leave it to the professionals.
3) Snake Whisperers have no sense of humor
4) Snakes also have no sense of humor
5) I don’t get paid enough
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