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Jerold J. Unruh

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The Snake
By Jerold J. Unruh
Friday, May 09, 2008

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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What happens when you awaken from a nap to discover a snake has moved in?

It was a chilly and rainy Sunday afternoon. We had just awakened from a nap and I was downstairs getting ready to start on some work left over from the week before. I was still fairly lethargic and not really fully awake. As I walked into the short hallway leading to the den, I happened to glance down. The black racer, about three feet long, was s-coiled along the baseboard.

My first thought was that I didnít know our son had a rubber snake. I quickly realized this one was real. He was immobile but I could clearly see that he was ready to slither away. I couldnít take my eyes off him because the consequences of losing him in the house sent shudders up and down my spine, along with pictures of me tearing walls down, ripping out ducts, etc. We were in the middle of a kitchen remodel and the guest bedroom was full of boxes of food, utensils, pots, pans, etc. I knew that if the snake made it under the door and into the guestroom, not even four feet in front of where he was already poised to move, I was going to be in real trouble. My wife would never let me rest as long as a three-foot long snake and our one-year old son were in the same house.

Now, I have been around snakes my entire life. I have pretended to tolerate them, especially when around those who like to handle them. The truth is that I am deathly afraid of them, especially those that startle me like this one. I have almost never touched a snake, always preferring a long-handled, flat-bladed hoe, or in some circumstances, a shotgun, between any snake and me. At any rate, my wife was almost at the bottom of the stairs at this point and I stopped her by pointing at the floor and saying: ďsnake!Ē

Because the light in the hallway was dim and I needed as much light as I could get, I asked her come down and turn the hallway light on. She seemed a little reluctant but she could turn the light on without actually entering the hallway I was in so she did so. She immediately returned partway back up the stairway so she had the best vantage point and some distance between the snake she couldnít see and herself. She couldnít see the snake because he was behind the wall. As I think back on it now, she may not have really believed that there was a snake at all at that point. Again, not wanting to take my eyes off him, I glanced around and formulated my instant plan.

Armed with a twelve-inch plastic rod from a travel crib and an empty, four cubic-foot cardboard box, I planned to coax the critter into the box by placing the box in front of his head and prodding him on the tail with the rod. He was being fairly cooperative so far, and had not moved at all since I had initially seen him. This level of cooperation resulted in my assuming the snake was more lethargic than I had been up to the jolt of adrenalin caused by seeing the snake to start with. I figured that he would sort of slither into the box and I could close the flaps, carry him outside, and release him into the woods surrounding the house. I want to describe what happened next in two parts, first from my wifeís perspective and then from mine.

My wife saw me place the box in the hallway. She then saw the snake flash over the top of the box and start under the guest bedroom door. Because she hadnít actually seen the snake until that moment, and suddenly realized there really was a snake in her house, she screamed. She saw me grab the snake and pull him back out of view. Then, after some commotion she couldnít see, she saw me walk around the corner with a death grip on the snake, fingers locked around his body right behind his head. He was coiled around my forearm and immobile again. She later told me I looked like I had been handling snakes all of my life and she felt very confident that the snake was now fully under control. She watched in awe as I calmly walked out, thorough the kitchen and into the garage. I donít think she saw the few droplets of blood I left in a trail as I moved through the house.

My account is a little different. That snake jumped into and over the top of the box so fast he was a blur. He was halfway under the guest bedroom door before I could grab him. I grabbed and pulled and he helped by striking me four times, two on each hand and in quick succession, before I could get his head under control. I was frightened and angry. I was also stunned that I had hung on. I think the final bite was when I was reaching out to grab him right behind his head. He just didnít like being caught like that. Anyone who has ever messed around with a black racer knows that their first defense is speed, their second is expelling that nasty odor, and their third is striking back. Once I had him under control, I walked to the garage, pushed the button to open the garage door, and grabbed my metal shears from my toolbox on the way onto the driveway. I then calmly, with malice and forethought, snipped the snakeís head from his body.

The clear impressions of several teeth were still on my hands but the bleeding had stopped. I used the web to verify the type of snake and was reminded that they should never be killed because they are so useful in controlling other critters who hang around. I have no remorse over dispatching this one, none at all. In fact, I am smugly proud of myself for hanging on and cutting well.

Now that this is over, I have a plan if it ever happens again. No plastic and no box! I have a nice ash shovel hanging on the rack beside the fireplace. It would have immobilized the snake very well had I thought to use it. Next time Iíll be ready. I sure hope there isnít any next time! I wonder how that snake got in to start with?

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Reviewed by J Howard 5/21/2011
Well, this certainly caught my attention...starting off..." I have pretended to tolerate them...truth is that I am deathly afraid of them, especially those that startle me ..." describes me so i continued. then for the snake to jump the box, oh boy, i could see that, but did not see it comin'-good story
thanks for sharing,

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