“What in the name of God is that?” Brenda’s voice hissed, jarring Carl’s attention, as the unexpected sound erupted from behind his left shoulder.

“Why do you do that? You startled the hell out of me.”

“Sorry. Well, what is it?”

“It’s a snake of some kind.”

“Duh! I know it’s a snake. What’s it doing in the garage?”

“It’s taking dancing lessons!”  Carl spit the words from his mouth like they were bitter pills.

Brenda’s face contorted into a fierce scowl. “All right! You don’t have to get smart with me. I just asked a simple question.”

“I don’t know what it’s doing here,” Carl said. “I don’t know how it got here. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know its name. I don’t know its pedigree or whether it’s poisonous.”

Brenda’s scowl deepened. “Why are you being such an ass?”

“I’m trying to figure out how to get the damn thing out of the garage and you’re disturbing my concentration. Let me finish this and then you can ask your stupid questions!”

“As you used to tell me, there are no stupid questions. Only stupid people. And I’m not stupid, so that must leave you.” With that, Brenda wheeled around and stormed back into the house.

Carl opened a large paper grocery bag, placed it on the floor, and began to coax the snake into it, using the handle of a broom. The creature writhed, its red, yellow, and black rings around its body almost dancing, as Carl shoved at it with the broom. With the snake fully inside the bag, he pushed the open end down with the broom, gingerly folded it to close it, and picked up the trapped viper. Jeez, this snake is heavier than I thought it would be.

Carl took the bag inside the house and set it on the kitchen counter. “Brenda, it’s in the bag,” he called. No response. “Brenda, the snake is in the bag on the counter.” Still nothing.

What am I going to do with this damn snake? It’s supposed to be illegal to kill them, but…

The sound crinkling craft paper interrupted his thought as the snake moved inside the bag. Carl watched the bag bulge as the reptile made its way around the edges of its prison.

I’ll search Google to see what kind of snake it is and how to get rid of it.

Brenda’s voice intruded on his internet search. “What’s in this bag on the counter?”

Carl heard the unmistakable sound  made when craft paper is handled. “Don’t open it, it’s…”

Carl sensed that Brenda’s scream was from pain, not fear. But fear gripped Carl as he viewed an image of a coral snake on the screen.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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