Tuesday, March 15, 2005

They never came back, yea, nor any of their descendants.

Once upon a time, there was a Mommy and a Daddy and a tiny little Belle and a tiny little Zappa who lived in a tiny little limestone house with a screened porch and about eight acres on which to plant gardens and play. And mow. Oh, and a woods in which to scamper and search for mushrooms and watch deer.

One day, the Daddy and the Tiny Children were out in the front yard, and the Mommy took this opportunity to strip and wash and wax the kitchen floor.

While the Mommy was down on her hands and knees scouring away with a scrub-brush and a bucket of Mr. Clean, she heard the Daddy yell "Mamacita, get the gun, QUICK!!"

This is not a good thing for a woman on her hands and knees in Mr. Clean and dirty linoleum to hear.

Changing voices to make the story easier to write. . . .

I ran to the door and looked out; Hub and the kids were standing together watching an area of the yard; I looked but could see nothing. He saw me standing there and told me to GET THE GUN, so I ran to the bedroom, where we kept the Thief Gun, well locked up and way up high, got it, and ran outside with it.

"What's the matter, what is it?" I asked.

"THERE! Can't you see it?" he replied.

I looked, but frankly my vision was then and is now not all that good, and all I could see were dried crusty leaves that had washed down from every tree on our side of the road over the winter. We hadn't raked them yet and they formed a crispy floating layer on top of the actual yard. But, that was all I could see.

The kids were excited. "There, mommy, it's right THERE!"

Hub hadn't fired a shot yet; he wanted me to see 'it' first. And finally, I did.

It looked like a big human brain. A big human brain, rolling and tumbling around on top of those crusty leaves. I didn't even know what it was.

I had never seen a snake giving live birth before. I had thought all snakes laid eggs.

Hub sent us all to the front steps, and fired. The big human brain scattered into pieces, and each piece was alive and went scampering across the crusty leaf layer and disappeared UNDER it.

"Well, that's that," he said.

"I don't THINK so," I replied.

He went into the house and took the children with him, and I surveyed the situation and decided what to do.

The first thing was to remove that leafy layer. A rake would take too long so I used matches.

Once the ground cooled, I surveyed the situation again. Those snakes were living somewhere in that immediate area and I was determined to find it. How could I let my children play there until I had removed every obvious danger that could be found? I considered the snakes to be an obvious danger. Duh.

So there I was, down on my hands and knees again, crawling around this blackened area and looking more and more like a coal miner with every passing moment. Hub wanted to get out the camera, but was apparently stopped by the look on my face.

Finally, I found it.

A hole in the ground, about three inches wide.

Remember back in grade school, when My Weekly Reader would show cross-sections of the inside of an animal's den?

I put a flashlight to that hole, and there it was: a cross-section of a snake's den that would have been the envy of any My Weekly Reader photographer. There were snakes everywhere, down in that hole. Coiled on little ledges, slithering around the bottom you name it. I was too angry with them to be scared. I put a pile of little driveway stones around the hole to mark its place and went back into the house for some murder weapons. One gun wouldn't be of any help. I saw the bucket of Mr. Clean. Eureka. I grabbed a pack of matches. I was ready to kill.

Back to the den entrance. I poured the contents of the bucket down the hole. This in and of itself drove a few of the snakes out, but I was ready for them with my rake and my ire. After a few seconds of head-stomping and what must have looked like wild ritualistic dancing on the blackened earth, I lit a match and dropped it down the hole.

It was awesome. I would never have believed it had I not seen it myself.

It was as if I had dropped a stick of dynomite down that hole. We heard a huge explosion down there, and the ground actually heaved up and then down again. And then there was silence, and then the real fun started.

Scorched snakes began to pour out of that hole, and I was there to greet them with my hoe and my fury. They were easy to kill, because the Mr. Clean had BLINDED THEM, and they had only red bloody holes where their eyes once were.

Hub was, by this time, nearly dead from laughing so much and so hard, but he finally gained control of himself enough to put the kids on the front steps and come out to help me stomp snakes.

Each time we got a pile, I gathered them on my rake and took them to the side of the yard to throw them over the fence, but every time I lifted the rake to throw, they slid down the handle and I ended up just sort of festooning the barbed-wire with them. You know, like Christmas garland. Yes, JUST like that.

Finally, no more snakes were coming out of the hole. I got down with the flashlight and checked. Their den was in ruins and there was ONE MORE SNAKE down there looking up at me.

I was patient. I got a lawn chair and a book, and made camp there by the snake-hole.

While I was keeping vigil, Zappa came out and wanted to know if there were any snakes left.

"There's one down there, honey," I said.

"Mommy, could you catch him for me? Tomorrow is "Show and Tell" at school."

I knew his teacher well, quite well indeed. When I stopped giggling, I said, "Sure, honey. Mommy will catch that last snake for you. Bring me something to put him in."

My happy smiling little boy ran to the garage and brought back a little green baitbox, the kind with the rubber slot on top to keep things from escaping. It was also the only way to PUT things into the box. Okay, I could do that. For Zappa, anything.

After several hours, the last snake slowly emerged from the hole. I was waiting; I grabbed him with one hand and thrust the baitbox under him with the other. It took both hands to force him into the box. Heck, by that time, he was probably in shock.

We sprinkled him with water all during the night, and gave him raw hamburger. He ate it.

The next day, Zappa was the happiest little boy in the whole kindergarten class. I don't think his teacher was quite so happy. The sissy.

But the really funny part of the story is this: My Mom picked Zappa up from kindergarten in her new car. She wouldn't allow him to bring the snake into her house, so he left the box in her back seat. It was a hot day. You finish the story.

It took her weeks to get the smell out.

We filled in the den. No snake has ever returned since then. We haven't even seen any back in the woods. Or in the garden.

Somewhere on our premises is a snake/hobo sign that says, "Don't even THINK about slithering over there."

They're right, too. I'm not the least bit afraid of snakes, but I don't want any in my yard, either. Even now that I have no small children, I still have my sensibilities, and I don't want them unsettled by having to deal with a den of snakes again.

Besides, I'm so old and fat now, it would be too hard to crawl around the yard on my hands and knees.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:20 PM | |


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