I killed a snake yesterday. Its long, black diamond-stamped body coiled in ropes on the deck railing I was staining. The dogs alerted me to its presence by saying nothing -- noses pointed they stood like stone carvings at watch. I set my paint brush across the can, motioned the dogs into the house and retrieved a long-handled linoleum scraper from the lean-to.
The snake watched from the deck, its belly rippling a mouse-sized bulge to the center of the coil. A great white mouth opened with malice as it adjusted the shifting mouse weight. That's probably why it didn't move when I returned with the linoleum scraper, I reasoned.
Snakes don't die easily. Although it was the right thing to do, killing anything is unnerving and like the dogs I circled the ghost on the railing long after the carcass had been tossed into the woods for scavengers.
Courtney video called and the sight of Tucker's two-year old smile as he shuffled in and out of view a thousand miles away cleared the air. "What does the cow say?" "Moo moo," he squealed as he placed another animal magnet on the refrigerator. "I killed a snake today." "I know mom...that was really brave" she replied. I don't know if it was a good snake or not. Good snakes are supposed to have cow eyes although I didn't get that close and it was scaring the dogs and it had eaten something that was still in its belly which made me think of the cats and whether or not snakes in Arkansas eat cats but the cats are safe in the house so...
I'm not sure if I actually had that conversation aloud. Maybe I did. Maybe I waited so as not to upset my daughter and grandson. Walt said that I was protecting my children. He said most people would have run. He said I put the dogs and cats inside, killed the snake then called for help before shock set in. I fell asleep last night wondering if it had cow eyes.
My mother-in-law told me once that the best way to vanquish ghosts was to tell their story and move on. And I have the rest of the deck to stain.