ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM “THE DOUBTING SNAKE” NOVEL

Kano tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a movement beneath some dead branches.  “That is a paca.  Go and get it.”

I walked over to the spot and discovered a paca which seemed to be full grown – about 25 pounds.   But as soon as I approached it, the little brown, creature ran away for a few yards and then froze.   Again and again I approached it and just as many times, it bounded away.

Finally I gave up and walked back to Kano.   “We have to set a trap first,” I said.

Kano merely walked over to the paca, reached down and picked it up.   He held its belly outwards with his arms under its front legs.  Then Kano put the creature down and it bounded under some nearby branches.

“Kano, why did you let it go?”

“So you could catch it.  I’m teaching you to catch paca.”

Again, I tried and failed.   I could hear Kano snickering.   I guess this was good for him to see.   He must feel mentally inferior to me and seeing that he does possess some skills which I do not, must make him feel better.

“What did I do wrong, Kano?”

“You didn’t catch the paca.”

“How were YOU able to catch it?”

“Because I know how”

“Then tell me how to catch it.”

“You just walk over and pick it up.”

“But when I walked over, it ran away.”

“You scared it.”

“How come YOU didn’t scare it?”

“Because I wanted to catch it.”

“So did I!”

“Then you shouldn’t have scared it.”

What a situation!  Kano knows a skill which I would like to learn.   Yet he doesn’t have the intelligence to explain it to me.  I tried once more.

“Kano, listen to me.  When you walk over to the paca, it doesn’t run away.   When I walk over, it does.   Obviously, we’re doing something different.  What?”

Kano thought for a moment and said, “You are scaring it away and I’m not scaring it away.  That is what is different.”

“O.K.   I understand that.   Now what can I do differently so it won’t get scared?”

“Don’t do anything differently.  You can just walk over and pick it up.   You can walk over any way you want, just don’t scare it.”

Kano walked over to the paca once more to demonstrate.   He skipped part of the way, jumped, twirled around and walked in various strange ways.   When he reached the paca, he bent down and picked it up as before.

I had heard that retarded people are good with animals.   The animals seem to be able to sense the retarded  person’s helplessness.  Perhaps Kano’s disability has actually helped him out in this case, although I don’t know how altruistic a paca can be.

The “empty one” insisted that I keep trying.   I wandered about, following the creature for almost an hour, but could never come within thirty feet of it.

Finally Kano picked the creature up and brought it to me.   He suggested we keep it as a pet and told me he thought it was cute.   It was a strange creature with a narrow face, a pudgy rear and slick fur.  I petted the creature and talked to it.

“Why are you so frightened of me?   I only want to eat you.”   I laughed yet I felt a tear come to my eyes.  It was certainly not because of sympathy for the paca.   I feel very comfortable with the idea of eating meat.   Perhaps my subconscious  remembered some painful event which was evoked by this situation. Kano released the paca and once again it bounded for the bushes.

“I thought you were going to keep it as a pet?”

“Do you really want to?”

“Sure!”

“Alright, you get it and bring it home.”  Apparently the paca had grown used to us as I had no trouble picking it up this time.

As we walked back to the hut, Kano said that we could really stuff ourselves on that much meat.

“What do you mean?  Are you going to eat it after all?”

“Of course.  I only said that stuff about keeping it as a pet so you would walk over to it with a friendly feeling.  I taught you how to catch it.”

“Kano!  How could you?  That’s not fair.”

“Not fair?   Why isn’t it fair?  I said I was going to teach you to catch a paca and I did.  That’s fair.”

“But there are morals here.  The only reason I was able to catch it was because I thought of it as a pet.  And now, in a way, I’m lying to the paca.  That’s not fair.”

“Lying to a paca?   I don’t know about such things.   I neither lie to paca nor tell them the truth.  I just eat them.”

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