I’ve seen long fat ones and I’ve seen little ones.
Me and Jessica Philpott on the absolute hottest day of the summer–it feels like that in my memory anyway–a not-a-cloud-in-the-sky Rock Creek day. A boulders-are-so-hot-you-actually-need-shoes kind of day.
Jessica and me sitting in my dad’s little red Sprint–one of our early, decent cars–listening to Great White or Mike and the Mechanics or Tom Petty. I won’t back down. I stand my ground. Jessica said you should ask your dad if you can spend the night. (Despite my dad being an unconventional parent, he still always, up until my last day with him and Lisa on A street, insisted that I ask permission and that he knows where I am and who I’m with). I sang Okay and leapt out of the passenger’s seat (Jessica was the kind of friend who would get the front seat in my daddy’s car).
To paint a picture–the Sprint was parked in the dirt yard right in front of our cabin nearly in the garden. It wasn’t always parked there, and I don’t know what it was doing there on that day, maybe we’d been unloading seaweed from the trunk and dumping it in the garden like we sometimes did.
Anyways, so I jumped out of the car and with Jessica still in the passenger’s seat ran/skip/hopped onto the front porch which was raised up about four inches from the ground and as soon as my leading foot, my right foot landed I heard a thick rattle. I’d heard enough warnings in my life to know what it was and it was true boy howdy when I looked down right there under the porch was a fat silver rattler.
“Daddd!!” I hollered through the open cabin door, “Rattler!!”
I don’t know if my left foot even made it to the porch cause as soon as I saw that snake it was leading the way right back to that little red Sprint.
Snake! Rattler! I yelled to Jessica. Quick, on top of the car!
Sitting on the hood of the little red Sprint I said “Ohh noo I hope my dad doesn’t come out the front door!”
But my pa was quicker than that. He’d somehow detected sincerity in my voice as I’d hollered despite the many times I’d played jokes and cried wolf.
He leapt out the window of the cabin into the goose coop and hollered to us that he was going to get Fabian’s gun.
Jess and I looked at each other with horror, we hadn’t intended to get anything killed.
My dad returned with Fabian and his gun and more of the neighborhood of course.
My dad didn’t kill things. And if anyone was gonna kill anything with Fabian’s gun it was going to be Fabian. Of course.
The boys–John and Butch were so excited they were jumping up and down. Jess and I remained in our front row seats on the hood of the car.
The boys and men slowly approached the rattler under the porch.
I made a secret plea that the snake had found itself elsewhere.
The loud ramble of its rattler as the boys and men tip-toed near it told me it hadn’t.
Without a countdown or a warning Fabian fired his rifle and got the fat boy on his first shot.
Then he took the ol’ boy home and the William’s ate him for dinner.