The Snapper

May 22, 2918 “The Snapper”

The American Bottom is sated. After a week of rain, water comes up to the edges along Routes 3 and 111. Water critters from raccoons to lizards and skinks to snakes and turtles were making their perilous journeys across roads. I was driving north from Edwardsville at mid-day, when I came upon a large snapping turtle, its head going in and out of its shell.

So, I pulled over. Car were making no efforts to slow down or stop. I walked along the shoulder to the turtle, now snapping its jaws, in no mood to thank me. The damn thing weighed about ten pounds.

You have to respect a turtle whose name is “Snapping”, not “Snappy.” I got behind it and took hold of the rear shell area. It bowed its head over the opening, mimicking the whack made by an old timey paper cutter. You know the saying: “Turtle can’t get you from behind.”

No, it can’t—if you hold it firmly and account for the four scabrous legs each armed with rapier-like claws, if you don’t tug the body toward you or hold it too far away and the turtle’s weight makes your shoulders weak, if you don’t lose your mind when the dinosaur stiffens legs and neck and head and snaps the machine with balletic grace, if the howl of the creature from the black lagoon doesn’t make you cry for your mama.

And there was the audience factor. Other drivers began to get interested when they saw my three failed attempts to lift The Thing, my imagination providing commentary: Car full of girl students, must not let go, must not whine, must not move my face; oh my god, what would my dad do; OMG, if it bites me, hold up my bloody stump and yell “Freedom!”

Then there was a lull in the traffic. I grabbed Old Ned or Old Nelly or whatever the hell its name was, extended my manly, pale arms and carried the shitting, pissing dragon across the highway! I only tripped once! I tried to lower it gently (yes, I took it where it was headed, don’t be telling me your turtle IQ), but Ned/Nelly hissed and spat and tried to turn upside down, emitting the worst breath I’ve smelled since Scout the cat ate some raw chicken, and my hands started slipping and the monstrous mouth of the monster opened wide and I could see the depths of hell of Chelydidrae serpentina

I dropped him/her on his/her head in the tall prairie grass. It (the snapper not the grass) flipped up and over and took off for the pines of Roxanna. It probably called Turtle 911 to report it had been molested.

The Department of Natural Resources in Springfield called to tell me that the National Rifle Association has put me on their enemies list as a “Pussy Opposed Willfully, Wantonly Etc. to Shooting Turtles LIke a Normal Person Ecstatically Would (POWWESTLINPEW).

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *