29 August 2006

"I will put enmity between you and the woman,
between your offspring and hers..."

Amber Joy and I arrive home well after dark, and feel our way toward our little cabin in the dark. Finally we come into range of the motion sensor lights near our front porch, and they flash on, leaving those strange blinking spots in my eyes. As we approach the porch door, I hear Amber say, with mild undertones of alarm, "Look, a snake!" In a rather foolhardy move, I continue walking, and as I open the screen door I ask "Where?" over my shoulder. Turning to look back at her where she has frozen in her tracks, I see the culprit, coiled in the cool dirt next to our door; I have stepped right over it. Oops. (This seems like reasonable grounds for me to wonder about my level of common sense and quickness of reflexes. I guess I can cross "ninja" off my list of alternative career choices! Learn from my folly: if your companion says, "Look, a snake!" this is your cue to STOP MOVING, particularly if it does not become immediately apparent where the danger is.)

I'm generally loving towards creatures of all sorts; I've never been one to viciously destroy some other living thing. (Oh, one recent exception being the millipede that bit me in my sleep a few weeks ago... but that's another story altogether...) And admittedly, this snake is not especially threatening: he's* coiled but not as if he's waiting to strike a foot unawares - he appears to be resting his scaly little head in the center of his neatly spiraled body, the picture of peaceful serpent slumber. Positioned this way, he is only a little larger than my clenched fist. We can't tell what kind of snake he is: the best description is brown splotches on a grayish background with a large head. Innocent appearances aside, all I can hear are the words of my late grandfather ringing mantra-like in my ears: "The only good snake is a dead snake." I can't just dismiss sage wisdom like that, especially since it was delivered to me in this very spot many times in my childhood. Additionally, Amber and I feel that it would be too disconcerting to allow the snake to live.

So we go to the carport and fetch a shovel. My naivete is long gone by this time: I'm seeing threatening shapes everywhere in the darkness. Hustling back over to the house, weapon in hand, I'm ready for action. The snake sits, waiting calmly.

I circle around and position the shovel 12 inches above where his head meets the rest of his slick body. He doesn't move, just keeps his composed position like a martyr facing the lions with serenity. Glancing up for reassurance at Amber (who nods to me grimly), I take several deep breaths and drive the shovel down as hard as I can. Now his body is wriggling a bit, so keeping him pinned I give the shovel a couple of extra stomps. Then I stand on it for good measure.

Amber and I glance at each other uncertainly. I cautiously lift the head of the shovel. The snake squirms a bit and then stops. I prod him, and his head eerily rises from the broken folds of his body, moving slowly, the jaw opening and closing. I hear a tiny shriek, and look up to see that Amber is now about 15 feet farther away (and doing a very funny "I'm so freaked out" dance). How does she move that fast?! We decide he needs a little more "assistance." And he gets it - after several more indiscriminate thrusts and stomps with the shovel, the snake is not moving anymore. We unceremoniously scoop the segments of snake onto the shovel and launch it into the brush. Then we attempt to go to sleep, thoroughly creeped out. But if there are any more snakes out there who slither a little too close for comfort, we know what to do!

*I realize that the snake went from "it" to "he" in the middle of the post. I didn't notice I had changed the pronoun until later - I retained it, not because of any bias against males on my part, but simply because it began to take on personality rather than remaining an object. Or, perhaps it's Paula Abdul's fault: "He's a Cold-Hearted Snake" was popular at an impressionable time in my life.


Amber Joy said...

There's always an adventure out our little cabin at the lake, but I must let everybody know (I mean, let DPS know; who else reads this?) that I'm not a chicken. I was playing the role of photojournalist in this encounter, but sadly the photos are not downloading properly.

But I don't like snakes.

dps said...

"Look into his eyes,... oh owowo, he's been telling lies"

I imagined the rather fast dance was more of a defensive maneuver, drawing the snakes attention away from eminent death by soothing "him" with abrupt changes in one's stance.

I cannot wait for "Snakes on a Porch" to debut on a screen near me!

Kelli said...

"He's a lover boy at play, he don't play by rules...oh hoooo, oh-ow... girl, don't play the fool now..." Somehow, I just knew that if that song connected to anyone, it would be you, DPS! Why not go for a holistic experience and project "Snakes on a Plane" onto my screen porch?! Some of our scaled friends might just show up!

Amber Joy, I certainly didn't mean to portray you as a chicken. For everyone else (or just DPS, whichever): she was armed too - with a camera!

Ruth Erin said...

i thoroughly enjoyed reading this. You description was so well written, I feel as though I was there. Thank God I wasn't though... snakes and I don't mesh :)

Amber Lee said...

Kelli, Amber Joy is clearly very lucky to have you as a roommate. I remember the time you killed that roach for me in the bathroom as I stood shivering under my towell. I thank you to this day, good friend.

Kelli said...

Oh, Amber, that little cockroach seems like child's play now. Why is it that I'm the designated "yucky creatures" killer?

In other news, I've seen two snakes since "the killing." They got away. One was definitely not a friendly snake. We'll be keeping the shovel handy.

Cuz Leslie said...

Kelli, your Grandpa Bryant would be SO proud of you... who needs a shotgun??

Kelli said...

Yeah, shotguns are for sissies! ;)

Shellie said...

Kelli!!! I was just horrified!!!
Of course I would be, right?!

I had not heard this story. Seems like it would have been a good "reply all" story. So, I have been sitting here surfing the web for some time now and thought I would send a wave your way.

I will call you soon, friend!