One morning I opened the back door, walked down the steps into our garage and there, between our car and truck, coiled up asleep on the concrete floor, was a snake. The overhead garage doors were closed. I retreated up the steps, went back in the house, and yelled for my wife.
Okay, I admit I’m terrified of snakes. Always have been. Ever since I was a kid and my friend would goad me into hunting for garden snakes in the local Illinois swamp. I hated the slippery feel, the fangs, and the glowing eyes.
I announced to Michelle she needed to clear the snake out since it was obviously closer to her car than my truck and, thus, her problem. We went out to the garage. The snake was resting nicely on the cool floor in the semi-dark. I hit the automatic garage door opener button. The snake awoke, its head bobbing back and forth, its tongue darting in and out, testing the air. It inched over, about two feet, now closer to my truck. Michelle said, “Good luck,” and went in the house.
I happen to know we have thirty-seven species of snakes in this part of North Carolina, six that are poisonous—the usual suspects like water moccasins, copperheads, canebrake rattlesnakes, and the like. I know that because I had read and saved an article a couple of years before. I raced back inside the house, ran to my office, and pulled out the story. Back in the garage I held up the page with the color photographs. Oh great, the color varied between pictures of the same snake. Let’s see, is the water moccasin nearly all black or dark brown? Does the canebrake have irregular black stripes on a tan background or is the background gold? I looked at my snake, which was now staring back at me. I had no idea what this one was. And I had no intention of getting close enough to find out.
I set the picture down on the steps, turned and the snake was gone. Oh shit. Now what? He could be under the car or the truck. To know would require my getting down on my knees and peering under each. He could be lurking, waiting to spring at my face. No way! Or I could jog over to each vehicle, jump in, and back it out. But ixnay on that too. He could launch at me as I went by, wrapping his body around my leg, and sinking his teeth into my calf. Dead in twenty minutes.
So I went back inside, got a flashlight and keys, went out the front door and around the house to the now open garage doors. Staying back, I shined the light under the car and the truck. All clear. I hurriedly backed each out. Victory. But wait. Maybe not. He could have hidden in one of the cabinets or under the workbench.
Michelle came back out. “I need a screwdriver. I need to tighten a door knob.”
“You can’t have one.” I explained the continuing threat.
She said, “Grab the extension pole and nylon mop you use to clean the screen porch. Drive the snake out with that.”
“No way. What if it attaches itself to the pole, slithers along it, and attacks me. Then what? I’d be a goner in mere moments.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Me, ridiculous? Remember Lassie, the movie dog, in the episode where a snake jumps out of a tree and lands on Lassie. She could have died if her owner hadn’t had a Glock and shot the snake right between the eyes, just before it could bite her. I remember every detail, as if it was yesterday. We need firepower.”
“It was 1957. Glocks weren’t even around then. Besides, the owner grabbed the snake by its tail and tossed it down the hill.”
Michelle came down the steps, pulled out the extension pole, screwed it into the mop, and looked under the workbench. “There it is. Poor thing. Probably frightened to death.” She nudged the snake with the mop and got it moving. Soon it was out the door and slithering across the driveway.
I said, “Excellent. Good team effort.”
“Team effort? I’d hate to think what you would do if you came across an alligator hiding in here one day. And I wasn’t home.”
“Put the house up for sale?”