Mike had done some pretty stupid things in the past, but this one took the prize.
We were home, in California at the time--at our sister and brother-in-law's house. I found him in the living room—with a twelve-foot python. "Are you out of your mind?" I asked, pretty sure I already knew the answer before I'd even asked the question.
"Nope. Just changing my professional image," he said, trying to pull the snake from his arm. It clearly didn’t want to let go.
I laughed. "The fans already know you're an idiot," I reminded him.
"I want to do a heel turn," he said. The snake was now trying to coil around him. "I'm going to call myself The Cobra."
I couldn't help laughing. "That's no cobra, bro. That's a python!" I pointed out.
He rolled his eyes. "Of course I'm not using a real cobra," he said, more than a little perturbed. "Cobras are dangerous, bro!"
"Then you can't call yourself Cobra," I said.
"Why not? "
Mike could be dumb as dirt sometimes. Too many blows to the head, I guess. Concussions really mess with your brain. "Because your slimy sidekick is a python," I said, using logic on the only one of my brothers incapable or being logical. Waste of time. “The audience will be able to tell the difference.”
Mike seemed to be trying to comprehend what I had just said. "Okay...so maybe I should call myself Python? Is that what you're saying? " he wanted to know.
"Something like that, yeah," I said.
He gave it some thought. "Yeah, okay...that might work," he said finally.
Mike worries me sometimes—most of the time, actually. That boy needs to be looked after.
I was in the kitchen that evening when Mike came looking for me. "We got a problem, bro," he told me.
I grabbed an apple from the basket on the counter and took a bite. "We have a problem...or you have a problem? " I asked, wondering what he'd screwed up this time. Maybe the snake was demanding top billing. Mike would probably give it to him.
"Boris is missing," he said in a low voice.
"Boris? Is he related to Waldo or something?" I asked.
"Be serious, man. The snake is missing!"
That got my attention. "What do you mean, the snake is missing? "
"Just what I said. He's freakin' gone!"
"Gone...where?" I asked. Please mean the damn thing went MIA outside.
"I dunno! I turned my back on him for two seconds and he crawled away!"
"In here? "
Relief. "You took him outside—"
"No...in the living room!"
"There's an eight-foot python on the loose in Robyn and Alex's house, and you have no idea where the stupid thing might be hiding? " I asked, fighting the urge to throttle him on the spot.
Mike bobbed his head emphatically. "Yeah."
"Okay, let me ask you a question," I started. "Are your life insurance premiums paid up?”
He nodded. "Sure. Why? " he asked. "Boris isn't poisonous."
"Venomous," I corrected him. "And even if the damn snake can't kill you, Robyn probably will."
We spent the better part of an hour turning the house upside down, trying to find Mike's new sidekick before Alex and Robyn came home and found themselves with an unwanted houseguest. Alex might be forgiving—but Robyn, who as a rule loved animals, detested snakes. She'd be mad as hell to have one on the loose in her house.
"This is nuts," I told Mike. "It's not exactly tiny. How many hiding places can it find?"
"It'll look for someplace warm," Mike said. "A closet, a laundry hamper, a bed...."
I halted him. "That thing could be in one of our beds?"
He thought for a minute, then nodded. "Yep."
"Alex and Robyn's bed?"
I sucked in a deep breath. "We're screwed. Big time," I concluded. "First, Robyn will kill the snake. Then, she'll kill you for bringing the snake into the house. Then she'll kill me for letting you bring the snake into the house."
We split up to search the four bedrooms. It wasn't long, though, before Mike came looking for me. He came into the room I was searching and spoke in a low voice. "Found him."
I stopped what I was doing. "Great! Where is he?"
"What are you waiting for?" I asked. "Get him out of there."
Was he kidding? "Why not?"
"He's in a real bad mood, Paulie," Mike said. "Nasty. I can't pick him up until he calms down."
I was at the end of my rope. "And how long is that going to take?"
He shrugged. "I dunno. Tomorrow, maybe."
"Tomorrow?" My voice reached a low roar at that point. "Mike, even if Robyn doesn't kill you, I just might."