Day after Labor Day, Andy hid in the hay bales next to the lion cage as Circus McManus retreated to our Okefenokee camp. The trapeze act, Todd and Todd, found him as we passed Birmingham.
"Why'da run, musclehead?" elicited a familiar story -- drunken father, lecherous uncles, pregnant girlfriend. Musclehead Andrew Puckinubby. Shit-for-brains Andy Morningwood. I heard it before. I checked the Amber Alerts -- nothing.
I opened beers. Andy liked beer. I, the Great McManus -- magus, alchemist, psychic -- know all. We drank. Green-eyed Reggie drank bottoms up.
"Your pet boa drinks beer?" Andy asked.
"Reggie's not my pet. He's my drinking buddy and assistant," I said. We talked. Small talk first, then serious matters: cars, tits, rock music, vaginas, dreams, Paris Hilton and why he thought circus-life was cool. Andy couldn't keep his blue eyes off Reggie, the green-eyed boa.
"How do you train a pet snake?"
"He's not my pet. He gets pissed if you don't call him Reggie."
"Snakes don't have feelings." Andy petted Reggie's head. Reggie hates that. He slithered over to the alphabet blocks and positioned the F and U blocks.
"Damn! That's a well-trained snake." Andy had the knack of talking shit that insulted Reggie. He raised his middle finger. Reggie spelled a-s-s-h-o-l-e.
"Reggie likes Proust, speaks English, French and Portuguese, writes our ad copy. His act is three years old, too old. Next season, he wants to be Hercules, the strong man."
"Your snake needs muscles like mine to be Hercules." Andy flexed and laughed.
"You wanna be my assistant for a year or two?"
"You bet your ass, I do." I grabbed Andy's hand and Reggie's neck.
"Good! You can learn the act in the off-season." I made the magic. Andy's eyes bulged, turning green as his and Reggie's minds exchanged bodies.