This morning, Hick discovered that an intruder has set up housekeeping in his BARn.
For a couple of weeks, Hick has been hearing things toppling upstairs in his Coke room/BAR area. Knick-knacky items. He figured there must be mice running around up there. He's had them before, you know. Most notably the time he found them inside the pockets of his coveralls. Hairless, pink, blind, baby mice. Plunged his hand right into their midst. To hear Hick's older boys tell it, "Dad jumped up and down, ripped off those coveralls, and screamed like a little girl." So the idea that there might be furry brown fully-grown field mice in his tricked-out loft did not cause him to panic.
To further fuel his suspicions, he had found that his gimcracks were, indeed, on the floor. And this morning, he found something else. Under his workbench, downstairs.
In case you can't tell from The Pony's phone pic, that's a five-foot snakeskin. The thing about a five-foot snakeskin is that the snake is bigger than five feet now. Hick thinks the original owner of that skin was a black snake. Or black rat snake, but nobody around here uses its proper name. Hick reports that in spite of the toppled tchotchkes, he has actually seen only a couple of mice in the barn. So he figures the skin-shedder was laying in wait along the mouse path.
Just so you don't think Hick is pulling a fast one, here's another photo, showing both ends of the skin.
This picture also includes The Pony's finger. Or perhaps an ominous entity. Or a magical red dot. Glass half full or half empty, I suppose. That backdrop is our old heating/cooling unit that was just replaced. Because why throw away something that doesn't work, when you could store it in the BARn to use as a backdrop for a five-foot snakeskin?
Yes, the BARn proper is not up to the standards of the BARn loft. I suppose that's a working chainsaw and a nonworking chainsaw. A chair I've never seen before, which points to something being thrown away at Hick's work. The measuring implement is a survey pole, though nobody here has ever worked as a surveyor. Under a gray tarp in the back is a 1970s Ford pickup without a bed. I'm expecting those American Pickers to drop in any day now.
There are no plans to evict our reptilian squatter. Hick was a bit apprehensive about the skin being light-colored from a black snake, until I told him that was normal. He declared that if it came from a copperhead, we were gonna catch it, by cracky, and become rich for owning the world's largest copperhead. Yes. He has delusions of grandeur. Surely he must know that we will become rich after my as-yet unwritten book hits #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
While I wait for that to happen, I'm going to see if we can't find a cousin of Mr. Five-Foot-Plus Black Snake to take up residence in our garage.