Sensory Overload at the Biggest Rattlesnake Roundup in the World
Illustrations by Winston Smith
“Rattler Round-Up” © Winston Smith, 2012
I’m one of those assholes at the airport who slaloms past you on a beeping golf cart. The limo of the elderly, lazy, and infirm. Even I can feel the seething looks. Sorry, but it’s for your own good. Airports are punishing enough without my people slowing the herd. Or so we tell ourselves as we relax in our cushy seats and run you over.
Since I’ve nothing to look at, and all I can hear is beeping, I’m left with one entertainment between gates. I smell the terminal. This is about as interesting as it sounds. Having said that, the salty, carbon-rich fog of deep-fryer grease we rolled through in the Dallas airport was pretty stunning. A nasal lubricant. Texas doesn’t just look big; it smells big, like a hungry, oily place.
I was racing to make my connection to Abilene, another hour’s flight west of Dallas in the heart of what’s considered central West Texas. You know something’s large when its west has a center. I tried this bit on my golf-cart driver. He just honked his little horn at the pocket of body odors clogging our passage.
At the gate, I listened for a familiar voice. Nobody called my name. I stared into the blur and hoped to be recognized. Still nothing. My brother, Mykol, was to meet me. His plane from Toronto had landed an hour earlier. The plan was for the two of us to fly from here to Abilene together. That seemed unlikely at this point.
They announced preboarding. I paced and called Mykol’s name, even flagging my white cane overhead. Bupkus. Final boarding call was given. I tried his cell phone. No answer. Should I just go and hope he’d catch another flight? I wasn’t prepared to bumble about Texas on my own. They’ve got trucks. Lots of them. I fit under trucks.
“Y’all are sure he was on the plane, sweet pea?” the gate agent asked and punched some keys on her computer.
“No idea” I replied.
“Don’t worry, hon. Bet he stopped for a snack. Some fries. Or a burger or—” I got the notion she was consulting the horizon of menus over my shoulder.
She was probably right, and I wouldn’t have worried, but things happen to Mykol. What kinds of things? Just look at the way he spells his name. There’s also the fact that lizards are his preferred roommates. I can’t say I know anybody else who collects sand or has imbibed a glass of bleach, twice. Once he even beat up our sister’s boyfriend because the man was on fire. Not only did Mykol extinguish the flames blow by blow, he fulfilled our sibling fantasy. Did he start the fire? Who knows. Is it wise to fix the wiring of an industrial dishwasher with your switchblade? Mykol has provided me with the answers to such questions.