When I was a kid, my dad didn’t talk much about Vietnam.  I knew that he served as a combat medic, and thanks to his customary plastic bottle of Black Velvet after dinner, I heard him mention the horror and trauma associated with treating American soldiers that had been caught in napalm strikes once or twice… but for the most part, the only thing he was ever really willing to impart on me was that the snakes in Vietnam scared him almost as much as the enemy did.

It’s important to note that my father, for all his vices, used to be one hell of a story-teller.  Since having a stroke a few years ago, he’s lost the ability to convey his stories with the same quick wit or recollection that he once could, but through his muddled word choices and difficulty remembering, his penchant for exaggeration is as alive as ever.  As a kid, I took him at his word when he told me tales of his adventures around the world, but as I got older, I began to wonder how much of it was true… and how much had shifted under the weight of years of storytelling.  The man could command a room, but in a pre-internet age, it was hard sometimes to know the difference between a real story, and one that only started out as real.

Such was the case with my father’s stories about snakes in Vietnam.  Huge snakes, poisonous ones, constrictors and the like – if my father was to be believed.  They were as strategically proficient as they were deadly; laying traps like the Viet Cong as though they were working together to root out the Americans neither party wanted in their country.  Over the years, I came to find that some of my dad’s seemingly most outrageous stories were actually pretty accurate – but I never believed him when it came to the snakes.

And as is so often the case, it appears that I was wrong.

A video recently surfaced out of the remote Indonesian village of Salubiro, on the island of Sulawesi, that makes my old man’s stories about Vietnam seem certifiably tame.  A young man went missing, authorities mounted a search party… and what they found was a massive python with a huge, swollen belly.  With a video camera rolling, they sliced into its stomach, slowly revealing the feet, then legs, and finally the entire body of the missing man.

The snake’s victim, a twenty-five-year-old plantation worker in the rapidly developing Southeast Asian country, likely knew there was a real risk of animal attack.  A 2013 report issued by a coalition of environmental organizations on the island of Sumatra called “Eyes on the Forest,” indicated that twenty-seven people had been killed in the region from tigers alone in recent years, with more deaths resulting from marauding elephants due in large part the rapid deforestation that is ongoing in the country.  What he likely didn’t suspect, however, was that the attack would come from a twenty-three-foot-long reticulated python.