By Adrian Garbacz, with editorial support from Людмиле O’Neill.

See these smiling faces, happy as the day is bright. Happy now, but not for long. Soon these mirthful mugs will be distorted into twisted masks of horror. Read on if you want to find out how this peaceful, bucolic scene was transformed into a revolting bloodbath.


Not long after this picture was taken, Pam, John, Людмиле, and I resumed our peaceful pedal down the trail. But it wasn’t long before a kamikaze squirrel darted across my path. You know the squirrely way the little buggers cross a road. First they jump left, then they jump right, then they freeze in place . . . then they jump forward again . . . eventually, they either cause a vehicular accident or they become crow food.

Kamikaze Squirrel caused an accident. To avoid him, I zigged, zagged, totally lost control, then fell off my trusty Cannondale.  Fortunately,  only my pride was hurt:  greatly embarrassed that a reckless rodent could get the better of me.

However,  embarrassment was the least of my concerns as I found myself rolling down an embankment into the pond that you can see in the photo. Before I could even spit out a mouthful of pond water, a huge snapping turtle slithered out of the muck, grabbed my ankle, and chomped. His dripping jaws came away with a mangled, bloody object that looked suspiciously like my left foot. No  wonder my leg was throbbing and the water around me was turning the color of cheap table wine.

Which brings this question to mind: are unidexters* (one-footed folk) required to purchase both a right and a left when buying new shoes? If so, do you think it likely that righty uni-dexters would team up with lefty unidexters when purchasing footwear? And how hard would it be to find a mirror-image unidexter who has the same shoe size and who has the same taste in foot wear?

Anyway, while you were wasting time thinking about shoe shopping, my true and intrepid colleagues rushed into action.

John manfully pulled me out of the swamp. Людмиле womanfully dived (dove?) into the fetid water, wrestled the ravenous reptile until he (she? it?  . . . no time for inquiries about preferred pronouns) released my pedal extremity from his/her/its vice-grip jaws.

While all this was going on, clear-minded Pam fetched a sewing kit from her back pack and commandeered a handful of opioids from a rather sketchy-looking bystander. (The scene drew a crowd of evil-looking guys with piercings and tattoos in all the wrong places. Any thoughts they had about mugging us evaporated after John demonstrated his mastery of  Roman Catholic Kung Fu (a.k.a. Cat Fu), one of the many obscure but deadly martial arts he studied in the seminary. )

Long story short: plucky Pam pounded the pain killers down my throat, caught the foot flung up to her by Людмиле (who is now wondering how to disengage from an enraged snapper), and re-attached the foot onto the leg with needle and thread.  Ouch! She should have waited until the drugs kicked in before performing reconstructive surgery. But other than that she did a great job. I was able to wiggle my toes in no time.

Eventually, Людмиле convinced the turtle that the pond would be a more peaceful place if she were allowed to leave it, and we all pedaled off to the Halligan. Over our favorite beverages, we offered praise for a beautiful day well spent in the company of fine friends who were there when the going got tough.