Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to try and teach your little dudes a lesson about life. I tried and now I feel like a bad man. A very, very bad man. To understand that, though, I think I need to give you a little background.
Here’s the deal: The other day, I was um. . . exercising (?) (certainly not out jogging on my bad knees, because, FSM knows what my orthopedist would do to me if he ever thought I was doing that) with my oldest little dude, Sarcasmo. He’s going to be running a 5k in early October and — Good grief! I just realized it’s going to be this Sunday. Darn. We’d better get He’s going to need to be ready for this. — he was in training. I was going with him (again, not saying I was training)
We were sweating along the road sort of near our house when an older woman in a nightdress came running out of a house on our right, screaming.
“Mr. White Shirt. Mr. White Shirt. You in the white shirt! Help me!”
I looked down. Sure enough. I was wearing a white shirt. I was tempted to just keep going, but I knew that wouldn’t be right. And, stopping to help might not only be the right thing to do, but it might help Sarcasmo learn the value of kindness and a willingness to help others.
I slowed down and started walking over to her porch. She was really panicked. Now I was glad I stopped, fearing there was something medical going on and she really needed help. Visions of us being in the paper for saving some stranger danced in my head, accolades and awards. You know, the usual.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” she panted. “You’ve got to help me, there’s a snake in my house.”
My ego completely deflated. Still, helping others in need is the right thing to do, so I told Sarcasmo to wait outside and I went in. When I did, I saw the woman’s mother, easily 168, also in a nightdress and carrying a broom. She was staring in horror at the hallway closet door. The woman picked up a hoe (no, not that kind of ho. A garden hoe.) and held it in front of her as she inched inside. They told me they thought the snake had gone into the closet.
As I walked closer, I saw that the snake had, instead, found refuge in the hallway itself, between the wall and the hall table. I pointed this out to the ladies. Bad move. The woman who’d called me actually levitated into the other room and attached herself to the ceiling*. The woman’s mother backed quickly down the hall. I figured this would be easy. After all, it was only a little rat snake. No actual harm to anyone.
I took the broom and began sweeping the snake toward the front door. I quickly succeeded in getting it out on the porch. I closed the door and bent down to pick it up so I could move it across the street. That was when the woman and her mother crowded toward the door and, in panic-filled voices, demanded that I kill the snake.
“I won’t let you leave until I know it’s dead,” the woman said.
I tried to explain that I could easily move the snake across the street and they’d never see it again.
“Oh, no,” the mother said. “It could get into the sewer and then come up in our toilets.”
I tried to explain the sheer unlikeliness of that, but they wouldn’t hear it. What I did hear was the continued panic in their voices. They sounded almost out of their minds with fear. I could easily imagine my carrying off the snake and then quivering in fear for days until one of them dropped dead. I didn’t want that on my conscience. I also didn’t want killing a harmless snake on my conscience. I balanced them out and the snake lost.
Sorry, dude. I brought down the hoe (not the ho) and cut the snake’s head off, almost vomiting as I did so. I managed to keep my bile down as the women rushed outside and thanked me effusively. I couldn’t talk to them. I just waved vaguely in their direction and headed back toward the street and Sarcasmo.
I’d wanted to return to him in triumph. Instead, I’d achieved my objective, but felt all the worse for it. I told Sarcasmo what happened and he smiled and said I did the right thing. He’d love to kill a snake like that some time. Not exactly the lesson I wanted to impart. I gave him a little of the ole live and let live as we finished the exercise and I like to think it worked its way through those thick plates of bone in his head.
I just wish I could stop thinking about the snake.
*possibly not entirely true.
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