The Gum-Chewing Rattler
By Master Storyteller
From his book
The Checker-Playing Hound Dog
When I was a kid, I had
a bad habit: I just loved to chew bubblegum. I always had a juicy
wad of bubblegum in my mouthtwo or three pieces at the same
time, just chomping away.
My teacher would see the
wad in my mouth and snap, Get rid of that gum! I would
have to take the gum out of my mouth and wrap it in some paper and
throw it in the waste basket. But I didnt really care, because
I always kept another package of bubblegum right in my shirt pocket.
But my mom was the one
who would really get mad at me, because I would forget to take the
gum out of my pocket before I threw the shirt in the wash. It would
come out of the washing machine with a big, gunky stain around the
pocket. My mom would say, Look at this! Youve ruined
another shirt! But then one day something happened that changed
her mind, and she never got mad at me again for carrying gum in
my shirt pocket.
One day I was walking around
out in the desert, kind of daydreamingchomping on my bubblegum
and not paying attention to where I was going. And I stepped right
on a rattlesnakes tail!
Well, the snake couldnt
rattle and warn me, because I was standing on his tail. So he didnt
even worry about warning me. He just came striking up through the
air, aiming his fangs right at my heart. He hit mebam!right
on the shirt pocket. And thats where I was carrying my spare
bubblegum. The rattlesnakes fangs stuck in the bubblegum!
There I stood, with my
foot on a rattlesnakes tail and with his fangs stuck in my
shirt pocket. He kept thrashing around and whipping up against me,
and I was so scared I couldnt move. I just stood there, staring
into his beady little eyes. Those eyes were just looking hate at
me! And he was working his jaws, trying to get his fangs out of
the gum so that he could get back at me and bite me good!
But of course, as he was
working his jaws to get his fangs out of the bubblegum, the gum
kept getting softer and softer. And the next thing I knew, there
was a little pink bubble coming up out of his mouth! It got bigger
and bigger, until it was the size of a basketball!
I got up all my courage.
I brought my hand up slowly andpop!I burst the bubble!
The snake went flying back and his head hit on a rock. It knocked
him out cold.
But that did take all my
courage. I fainted and fell down in the other direction. I didnt
come home for lunch, and my mom came looking for me. She found me
lying on the ground, fainted out cold. And lying nearby was the
She woke me up, asked me
what happened, and I told her the same thing I just told you. And
you know what? She didnt believe it, either.
© Joe Hayes
Joe Hayes Books at Cinco
Joe Hayes, Storyteller
Joe Hayes, professional
storyteller and SFAOL contributor, has performed in hundreds of
schools, libraries, museums and parks. He tells folktales from many
cultures, and among his favorites are the local cuentos,
the Hispanic tales of New Mexico. A highlight of every summer in
Santa Fe, for children and adults alike, are his storytelling sessions
outside the tepee at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe.
In 1982, Mariposa Printing
and Publishing company in Santa Fe presented 10 of these stories
in "The Day It Snowed Tortillas." Now in its ninth printing,
the book has become a regional favorite and has brought delight
to readers throughout the country.
From the melodic song of
"La Hormiguita"to the classic lament of "La Llorana," "The Day
It Snowed Tortillas" is a collection that will captivate hearts
for years to come. If you enjoy the stories of Joe Hayes on SFAOL,
you can order this book or others he has written by visiting