SLOAN COLUMN: Preacher Bob slays the evil serpent
It was a relatively quiet Saturday night, just me and the dog. I was not too far from calling it a night and crawling into bed. A busy day of preaching lay in wait.
The quietness was interrupted by the sound of my phone ringing. Calls after 9 p.m. are uncommon, even for preachers. From my experience, late night calls are often accompanied with not so good news.
“Preacher Bob, I need your help,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I didn’t know who else to call.”
It was a Cathy, a congregant from one of the two rural churches I serve. In her 60s, she had recently lost her longtime beau and lived alone in a mobile home just a short distance from the manse.
“It’s fine, dear,” I calmly responded to Cathy’s somewhat frantic request. “How can I help?”
“There’s a snake about to kill Bob.”
If I wasn’t curious before, I was now.
“I’m sorry, did you say a snake is about to kill Bob? Who’s Bob?”
“Bob is my chicken,” Cathy explained. “I named him after you. A snake got in the pen. It’s curled up around Bob and it’s squeezing the life out of him. It’s really big!”
After pausing for a moment, I told Cathy not to worry and that I would be there in a jiff. Changing into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I wondered why she had decided to call me of all people. Was it because I was a preacher? Was it because she knew I had served in the Marine Corps? Maybe it was because I was the only person she knew who would be dumb enough to tangle with a snake about to devour a late night snack. All three were possibilities, if not probabilities. Dressed, I hopped in my Wrangler and made the very short drive to Cathy’s place.
I pulled up in the yard so that my headlights were pointed directly at the chicken pen. Sure enough, there was the snake. I estimated it was about five feet long. I say estimated because it was coiled tightly around the bantam rooster’s midsection. Things looked quite grim for poor Bob.
Cathy and a neighbor were already outside when I arrived. I talked with them a few moments while I sized up the situation. As I did so, the snake released its grip on its prey and began to widen its jaws so that it could swallow its very early Sunday dinner.
I grabbed a hoe from the bed of the truck. The snake instinctively knew his meal was about to be interrupted and began to slither, rooster about halfway down its throat, towards the tree line behind the pen. Moving quickly, but with necessary caution, I caught up with the snake and brought the hoe down on it three our four times. Assured that it was dead, I picked it up with the hoe and deposited it in the woods. Sadly, there was nothing I could do for Bob the rooster.
Heroics completed, I returned home and went to bed.
By the time I arrived at church the next day, most, if not all, of the congregation was aware of the previous evening’s excitement. Cathy had shared with everyone that Bob had come to the rescue and killed the mean ol’ snake that had tried to eat her rooster.
After church, I talked with Cathy again. She thanked me for being there in her time of need. I told her I was honored that she chose to name her late chicken after me.
“Cathy,” I said, “might I suggest when you tell people about what happened, don’t say, ‘Bob came over and killed the snake.’ Tell them ‘the preacher slayed the serpent.’ It has a more biblical sound, don’t you think?” She agreed.
We all laughed, said our goodbyes, and headed home for Sunday dinner. I chose not to have fried chicken that day in memory of Bob. May he rest in peace.
Here ends the epic tale of how Preacher Bob slayed the evil (and hungry) serpent.