– Ross Perot
It might have been the first time - outside of a golf course - that I ever asked my son’s advice.
He appears, however, a much better judge of his mother’s sensitivities than me, so I sought his counsel.
“Should I tell your mom,” I asked him, “that there’s a snake in the masonry wall down from the deck?”
He was home from college for a week and we were standing around in the back yard passing time, just talking.
Nothing too serious, except the snake business.
“You’ve got to,” he said without hesitation, adding somewhat decisively, “She doesn’t like surprises and she doesn’t like snakes.”
He was right, of course.
When he was just a child he saw her reaction to the discovery of a large but, I am sure, quite harmless snake not far from where the current one was probably resting.
She rushed to the garage, grabbed a relatively new garden hoe and beat the poor serpent until the hoe’s metal end broke off and the wooden handle cracked.
Then she called the sheriff.
Then she called me.
(I made a mental note to expect the same sequence if she ever comes home from the store and discovers a burglar.)
“What sort of snake is it?” my son asked.
“Black,” I answered. “Rat snake. About four feet long.”
“You sure?” he asked.
“Pretty much,” I said. “He did that little thing where he shakes his tail in the leaves to make it sound like a rattle. His head was sort of spear-shaped. I almost grabbed him while I was pulling weeds out of the flower bed.”
When I told my wife about the snake, I didn’t tell her that part. How I thought it was a piece of coiled, black hose, only it moved away when I reached for some weeds a few inches from it.
I also didn’t tell her how I watched the snake uncoil to a surprising length and slither smoothly beneath the wooden deck steps, then glide gracefully up a wall before sliding into a hole in a crack between blocks.
I haven’t seen it since, but I know he’s in there.
So I told my wife.
She wasn’t happy. Mostly because she thinks the snake will hurt the smallest of our little white dogs.
“Terriers love snakes,” I assured her. “They’re more fun than chew toys.”
She looked at me grimly.
“We need to get rid of that snake,” she said in that somewhat chilling tone she uses with telemarketing salesmen.
“But it’s a good snake,” I said. “It’s probably keeping the bad snakes from the creek from creeping up toward the house. It won’t hurt the dog. They’ll probably become pals.”
I don’t think she believes that, of course, and her hoe, I have noticed, is now resting beside the back door.
Justice is about to meet scales.