Ok, so it's true. I got another one, a tattoo on my left arm.
Glen, my new friend and tattoo artist extraordinaire, wondered alllowed: "Isn't your wife going to kill you?"
"What she doesn't know won't hurt her," I said in my sneakiest voice. "Besides, she's in Ireland. I can't tell her if she isn't here."
Glen didn't look convinced. Neither did my wife on her return. My third daughter, the rat, had already briefed her on my latest addition.
"Patrick O'Neill...You've lost your mind," she informed me!
True as that may be, I did it for good reasons. There was the whole balance thing to consider, given my first tattoo was on my right arm. Only natural to get a second.
There's also The True Snake Story.
You see, I had an encounter a few years ago in the Arizona desert with a green Mojave rattlesnake. They are the most lethal rattler in North America. Thirty seconds to Jesus. So lethal that your chances of surviving a bite are iffy.
I met my Mojave at the foot of a small footbridge that I was going to cross to get to the dining hall of the Conference facility where I was staying. I was minding my own business when out of the corner of my eye I saw something green and coiled.
I stopped. That's good snake protocol.
Yup, it was a snake alright, a green Mojave kind. It remained still, coiled and non-rattling.
I had never seen a green Mojave before but I wasn't about to get any closer. I backed away slowly observing it out of the corner of my eye and went to find the caretaker.
"There's a snake," I said when I found the caretaker. "A green Mojave kind. I think".
"Not good," he said. He went into his trailer and returned with a pistol. Together we went back to the bridge.
"They're very shy", the caretaker said. "And impossible to handle. Way too lethal. We have to shoot him."
"We," I said?
The caretaker approached the snake until he was virtually standing over it. The snake was rattling big time by now.
He fired the pistol at point blank range.
The snake dodged the first bullet. Really.
The caretaker got him on the second shot. He pulled out his knife and cut off the rattle, depositing it in my palm. "That's for you," he said. "Good job spotting him. He could have hurt somebody."
I looked at the amputation, four distinct rattles still twitching in my outstretched hand. He picked up the snake. "The meat is good eating," he said.
So that's the reason for the second tattoo. That rattler gave me it's rattle. I gave it my left forearm. It's only fair.
"It's a true snake story," I said to my wife explaining the new ink. "I wouldn't lie to you about something like that."
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.