Ralph saves Sarge's life.
As mentioned in other stories my buddy Ralph and I spent a lot of time together. And after I got back from my first hitch in the Army, took a break in service and went to college, I got a job as a Draftsman at the Allis Chalmers Plant in Independance, MO. On my first day at work who should I run into but (yah you guessed it, my buddy Ralph.) So we imediately made plans for the next hunting season. By now Ralph had a half a dozen operations on his legs and he was able to walk without his crutches.(they actually cut the long bones in his legs and put braces on them so the bone would fill in between the ends of the cut bones Yuck)
But back to the good part. Quail season is the first season in Missouri so we headed to the Ozark Mountains and found a hunting area open to the public. The area was capped by Limestone rock and had very little grass except between the rocks. In places there was deep cuts between the rocky ledges. We walked on the bare rock and tossed small pieces down into the cuts. We had found that the quail were down in the shade eating the weed seeds and scratching in the dirt. A rock would send them all flying and of course we were waiting with shotguns poised.
I was walking on this flat Limestone ledge and the next piece was about a foot lower than the one I was on. At the crack between the two levels, Russian Thistle grew wildly. So I jumped over the thistle and landed on the flat rock. Except it wasn't flat. What made it not flat was a big Missouri Diamond Back Rattle Snake. Who took exception to someone jumping on him. And in typical snake reflex action he nailed me in the left ankle. He was caught in my boot tops or my jeans and he couldn't let loose immediately. I felt the pain and looked down and saw the snake (MY God he was big) but fear added energy to my leg and I threw it up in the air like the Folly Girls and the snake flew off. Not finished with him I pumped my 12 ga. three times and gave him three reasons to die.
Ralph had been looking down in the ditch and did not see my fancy dance. He yelled. "Hey did you see one?"
My reply, wasn't what he expected.
"A snake bit me. I shot him."
Ralph didn't waste any time getting over to where I was holding my leg and cussin'. When he saw the rattle snake he took charge and told me to start for the truck, NOW! I got about 50 yrds and the pain level was too high to lift my leg and I was just dragging it. Ralph caught up to me and put his shoulder under my left arm and lifted me up so none of my weight would be on my bad leg. If you remember from another story about Ralph he had been on crutches almost all of his life. And tho he was only 4 ft 11inches tall he had shoulders even broader than mine. And strong arms and shoulders. We had been about 300 yards from the truck and by the time we got there Ralph was all but carrying me. He boosted me into the back of the truck and then tossed the dead snake in with me. (I bet you are wondering why he did that.) Well it is not well known but each type of snake has a distinct poison. If the doctors do not know what type of snake it is they will be unable to give the right type of anti-snake toxin. And if they give the wrong type it would be like getting bit twice. Thank God that Ralph reads a lot and knows things like that.
As we raced to the nearest town and hospital, Ralph took some curves and corners a-slidding an bumps a-flying. And every time he did it, that damn snake would roll over on me. And I was fighting it off, positive that it was still alive and trying to bite me again. I don't remember getting to the hospital or the life saving shots, but I woke up and my wife (my first wife, now deceased) and Ralph were there at my bedside. I stayed off my feet for a week and by then the swelling had gone down and my system had kicked back in so I could keep food down.
Ralph, he just said that I would do the same for him, and he was right.