When that snake conversation bust open at Cousin dinner on Sunday night, I know for sure then that nobody ain’t going home soon.
I know for sure then that the moon gon crawl into she bedroom long before we.
"When the hymerali snake bite you, you does have to be smoked to sweat out the poison," Cousin announce.
Me mother, like Ms. Authority say, "Mm-hm. Is true. You does have to smoke the person."
But Ms. Doubting Thomas me screw up me face. "Smoke? What you mean, smoke?"
"They got to wrap you up, I don’t know if is in leaf or blanket. And they put you on a spit, over fire, like when you smoking fish, and they heat you 'til you sweat out the poison," me mother say.
"Yes," Cousin nodding wise, wise. "That is what daddy tell me."
Cousin father, he is me cha-cha, me father brother.
He used to live up Abary Creek. There, poison snake does only wait for you to twitch one toe as a excuse to bite you.
Well, when I hear that my cha cha say that, when I hear he say you got to get smoked to sweat out the poison, I stop doubting.
He know things we mere mortals don’t know.
"Oh shucks!" That was me now, believing.
After that, everybody had a story, a tall tale, a rumour, or a ill-conceived fact to share.
The only problem was, everybody want to share at the exact same moment.
All you could hear was “argle bargle argle bargle…”
But suddenly, in the middle o' the argle bargle, in the midst o’ words flying all over the living room, somebody voice drop in clean and clear.
"I hear it got a snake, if you kill the partner, the snake gon follow you 'til it kill you."
The argle bargle stop.
Cousin say, "Y’know, daddy tell me that the Amerindians believe that the hymerali does travel in a pair. If you kill one, the partner does communicate with the dead mate.
And it does communicate somehow who kill it.
And the partner does hunt you down 'til it find you.
And kill you.”
Me, big fan o’ cha-cha, want to tell one o' he stories too. "Aiiiye Cuz, you ever hear 'bout the time the snake follow you daddy and them men behind they tractor?"
But before Cousin even hear me, she husband jump in. "How that gon be possible? Suppose you migrate overseas? How the snake gon follow you to kill you?"
Somebody mumble, mumble that is a Amerindian belief.
Nobody ain’t dispute the belief. We so want to think that snake bad, and can do anything.
Then hear Monty, "It got a snake that does use a leaf to bring back to life he dead pardner."
That one rev up me mother. She sit up. She jook the air with she finger and say, "Y’know, Joiner did tell me that same thing!"
[Joiner was a furniture / wood-work man who used to work for me father in the construction business.]
Me mother say, "Years before Joiner start work for she father..."
...[me mother stab the air and point to me]...
"Joiner used to work for some other people in the bush. Them workers used to live in a launch on the river, and cook on land.
Joiner say one o' them boys kill a snake. The dead snake pardner crawl up to the dead snake, and look at it good. Then the pardner crawl 'way and leave the dead one.
Them men think the snake gone.
That snake come back with a leaf in he mouth and drop it by the dead snake.
Joiner say, the next thing they know, the dead snake revive, and the two o’ them crawl in the bush.
Joiner say when they see that, they hustle off in the launch and move 'way. They not staying there!”
If you hear we after this!
Argle bargle full up the air again. Noise!
"The snake ain’t been dead."
"Is a special leaf."
"Something in the leaf does revive them."
"Animals know things too, why we think we is only one to know?"
Finally! We run out o' conjecture, opinion, idea and thought.
We quiet down.
Then Monty ask, "Anybody ever see jumbie?"
Jumbie? Dead people spirit?
Why the tail people got to talk 'bout them things that late o' clock?
Why the tail cowards like me and Cousin can't help weself, we got to hear, we got to talk jumbie stories?
As if the snake wasn’t enough.