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Thomas Wictor

Excised Snippet Number Two

Excised Snippet Number Two

Here’s the second passage from my novel Invisible Idiot, which became Chasing the Last Whale, Volume Two of the Ghosts Trilogy.

Though I agreed with the need to remove these scenes, I liked them, so I’m publishing them here when I get the urge.

Tonight I have the urge.

Excised Snippet Number Two: Terrible Pagan

I would’ve made a terrible pagan. Nature and the great outdoors don’t do a thing for me because I can’t stand being dirty. Besides, pagan celebrations involve sacrifice—blood sacrifice. It’s all about appeasement, about trying to live with this “maybe, maybe not” trickiness. A wood nymph is gorgeous with her big eyes and tangled hair, but you never know what she’s got in mind for you. She might hug you and tell you how glad she is to see you, or she might lead you into the darkest part of the forest and abandon you. It all depends on her mood.


This walk has plenty of other hazards. The branches lying across the path fall from eighty-foot trees. Some of them weigh thirty pounds. They could go right through my head, like a crowbar piercing a melon. I haven’t heard of falling branches hitting anybody out here, but if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen to me. It’ll be this Ripley’s Believe It or Not! impalement that’ll disfigure me horribly without killing me. I’ll have a branch spearing my brain and sinuses and coming out under my chin. Or from my mouth.

That’s it—a branch protruding from my mouth, shoving my tongue out so it’s hanging down over my chin. Looking like that, I’ll approach people for help.

Ghrrhhhrg? Hghrhhgh!

I should buy a crash helmet. Actually, if I took my walks in my sweat jacket, shorts, and a red wraparound motorcycle helmet with a black visor, nobody would ever bother me.

There’s a constant skittering as tiny creatures race into the ivy on both sides of the path. They move so fast that it took me a while to recognize them as lizards. I was afraid they were forest rats. Whichever side of the path they’re on, they always want to be on the opposite. I occasionally catch them napping in the middle of the path, basking in the sunlight that filters down through the leaves.

If I’m quiet I can sneak up on them. A couple of times, I’ve been able to kneel down right next to them. They open their eyes, cock their heads at me, and shoot into the ivy. I’d never looked a lizard in the eye until I started taking these walks. They seem incredibly bright. I wish I could convince them to do their basking off to the side, where they’d be out of the way. I’ve found a few that weren’t fast enough and got stepped on or bicycled over. At least they died in their sleep.

Apparently all animals dream; I’d like to know what lizards dream about. Bugs, probably.

I’ve also seen a snake, six feet long and two inches in diameter at its waist or hips or whatever the thickest part of a snake is. It slithered along the concrete base of the wrought-iron fence, its speckled brown-and-yellow scales making it seem transparent against the dirt, like it was a ghost. I didn’t notice it until I was right beside it. Nobody else was around, so nobody could tell me how high I jumped, which is too bad. I really soared.

I hate snakes. They’re completely blank, not like lizards at all. In a flash they switch from docile to vicious, without changing their impartial expression. Even small snakes make me numb, and this one was like a juvenile anaconda. I found a stick with a broken end as sharp as a lance and jabbed it into the ground in front of the snake’s face. It hissed and showed me its mouth, glistening pink folds around a black hole. I almost threw up.

My baseball cap floated over my head on the tips of my hair. I kept jabbing with the stick and yelling, “Go away!” even though I know snakes are deaf, and it finally slid through an opening in the base of the fence and disappeared into the bushes. I slapped the ground with the stick to keep it going. After it was gone, my legs twitched uncontrollably. Someone would’ve killed the stupid thing, and then I would’ve had to see its rotting corpse for the next month.

The only other problem besides falling branches, squished lizards, and ghostly snakes is the mind-boggling number of dog turds strewn around. I rarely see people walking their dogs, so maybe strays are coming out here at night. This would be a first-rate place for them because it’s secluded and quiet, not that dogs need seclusion and quiet to move their bowels. They do it anywhere and anytime, under any circumstances. I have to watch my step up here, and sometimes I have to breathe through my mouth.

This afternoon I saw a monumental pile of dog manure in the exact center of the path. Someone had decorated it with a tiny paper American flag attached to a toothpick. I avoided it and went my two miles, and by the time I came back, the American flag had been exchanged for a paper Mexican flag on a toothpick.

It made me wonder what percentage of people out here are carrying toothpick-mounted flags at any given time. I don’t even know where you get them or which nations’ flags are available in that format.

Mostly, I wonder what in the world they did with that rescued American flag.