Morning has always come much too early to my way of thinking. That too-early morning, there was only the grey dawn light outside, even dimmer in the kitchen; I didn’t want to damage my eyelids by turning on a light. Besides, after years of training I functioned pretty well in half-light.
Got the coffee pot going, and headed back toward the bathroom to wake myself up with a shower. By then, the eyes were working a little better, and
GREAT GOSH ALMIGHTY I STEPPED RIGHT OVER A SNAKE!!!!
There he lay, right there on the kitchen tile, color-matched perfectly, hiding in plain sight. Worse, I was barefoot, which somehow heightened my vulnerability… one quick swipe upward and that snake could tear right into my foot, not even bedroom slipper for protection.
Although to be honest, those fangs looked capable of piercing whatever that snake wanted to pierce.
I backed slowly to the kitchen phone, never taking my eyes off him. He never took his eyes off me, either. In fact, he didn’t move a hair.
This was one cool snake.
I dialed my son’s number. Thank God, he answered on the first ring!
“Jay, there’s a snake in my kitchen.”
“On the floor.”
“What’s he doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing. He’s not doing anything.”
“Uh… how big is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“How long do you think he is?”
“You know I’m no good at guessing something like that.”
“Just try to do it, Mama, make a guess. Now, how long do you guess he is?”
“I can’t see but half of him.”
“Okaaaayyy… then, how long is that half?”
“About 10 inches long. I suppose. I do not plan to get down there to measure him.”
“Where’s his other part? Is he under something?”
“I don’t know. It’s just – gone.”
“Well, then — which part is gone?”
“His tail part.”
“So the head part is still there?”
“Then can you tell me what happened to his tail part?”
“I guess a cat bit it off.”
“Mama, I really want to know — is this snake still alive?”
“I don’t know.”
“Look at him. Is he breathing?”
“I AM NOT GETTING CLOSE ENOUGH TO THAT SNAKE TO LOOK HIM IN THE FACE!”
“Okay. Exactly what do you want me to do about it?”
“Come get him.”
“Mama, I live 35 miles from you and it’s not even 6:30. I am not coming.”
I swallowed hard, trying to subdue rising hysteria, noticing that my voice was getting a bit shrill. About 48 more seconds of this and I‘d lose control. Irritatingly, the snake didn’t appear to feel threatened, not even a little bit. He had far better control than I did.
“Mama, please, just pick him up and flush him down the commode. Okay?”
“Because he’ll get down there with others of his kind and reproduce!”
“He’s dead: he can’t reproduce.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Well, okay, Mama… has he moved even an inch since we’ve been talking?”
“Then he is dead. Honestly. Believe me, with all the screaming you’ve been doing, he’d be scared to death if he wasn’t already dead.”
“Jay, are you coming or not?”
“No, I am not coming. You are going to have to take care of this yourself. Here’s what I want you to do… pick him up and take him outside. Then, throw him into the woods.”
“You expect me to pick up a snake with my bare hands?”
Jay was quiet for a minute or so, enough that I worried that he’d gone back to sleep. Finally, he answered.
“Just get a paper towel, okay? I know they are right there near the phone so don’t claim you can’t get to them. So, right now I want you to get a paper towel, then pick him up and take him outside.”
“If I do, will you stay on the phone?”
“What good would that do?”
“In case he bites me. You need to hear it if he bites me. So you can call 911.”
There was a big sigh on the other end of the phone. Jay obviously doesn’t wake up ready to greet the day any more than I do.
“Okay. Take the phone outside with you, but I still want you to do exactly what I told you to do.”
I picked up the snake very gingerly, and he didn’t move at all. He may even have been a wee bit stiff, but I knew that could be a ruse. I grew up knowing to never trust a snake. Particularly one handing you an apple, although this one had not offered anything. But you never knew.
I took him across the driveway, next to the woods, and flung him hard as I could. He hit a tree trunk, bounced off, flew back down… and landed right at my feet, my bare feet. On top of my foot, in fact!
I screamed. Loud.
“Mama! What happened? Are you okay? Did he bite you?”
I described how he bounced and then flew. Once again Jay sighed, hugely, and said, “Mama, please throw him again, just not as hard. Please?”
So I did just what my son said… and watched as that stupid damned snake just draped himself on a limb, perfectly balanced, out of reach for anyone who might have offered to climb up there and remove him. However, my son certainly didn’t offer to come do it.
Snake hung there in the hot sun for several days, demonstrating by smell that yeah, he definitely was dead.
Well, at least the front half of him was dead. I can’t vouch for the back half.