Murder on Christmas Eve

There is always something extra to do on Christmas Eve. For instance, this year I published books for the three youngest grand children. They have sat on my desk for a month, but here I was at the last-minute rushing to wrap them. To get some work space I disappeared to my workshop in the basement. There I would have the space, materials, tools, and desire needed to wrap the gifts in solitude. The job took all of fifteen minutes, and I had peace knowing it was done. It was time to clean up, and to put the paper back in the pantry. Upon returning, I noticed a funny black rope like thing on the floor just five feet from where I stood wrapping. A closer look revealed the rope was alive. Oh S__t! ISIS has invaded Frankfort  (Illinois Snake Inside Shop).

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This is the fourth time in nine years I have had to deal with one inside. Each time it is in the winter, it is in the basement, and each time it rattles me. The previous three times the snakes were small, only about a foot long and the diameter of a pencil. This time the damn thing was two feet long and much bigger in girth. It was also much scarier. I am still in a quandary about how they get in. One theory is that they enter from the sump pump water storage hole. In the midwest we place a large plastic pipe filled with holes around the perimeter of the house foundation. It allows ground water to seep into the sump instead of seeping into the basement. There is a pump in the hole which lifts the water out into the yard away from the house. I envision the garter snake using this pipe system as a winter den and following the water into the sump. We had a heavy rain two days earlier and most likely the snake washed into the hole. At least, that is one plausible explanation.

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My mind raced with solutions for getting the snake out of the house, and also from my mind. I recalled a story from my book Jun-e-or(available from Amazon in eBook format). I wrote a vignette titled “Scream” in which I describe my mother’s dislike for snakes, and how she dealt with them.

I made a quick trip to my tool box to find a weapon, and stealthily walked back to the slithery creature from behind. There was no way I wanted to scare this thing into some dark recess of scrap woodpiles scattered about my shop. I had visions of picking a piece of wood for a project and uncovering a mass of twisted yellow striped squirming bodies in a hibernaculum. The image of my mom’s method for dealing with a serpent played wildly in my mind, and in a second it was over. I used my putty knife to decapitate the poor thing. I walked away filled with pangs of guilt thinking I murdered one of God’s creatures on Christmas Eve.

By the time I got a dust pan and a bench brush to sweep the corpse up, he was coiled on his back exposing his under belly, a pool of blood oozed from his body, his head joined by a sliver of skin. It took a quick brush onto the pan and a dump into a plastic bag. I walked upstairs past Peg sitting on the couch reading. She looked up and said “what have you got in the bag?”

“Just a last minute gift for the kids,” I said. I took it immediately to the trash can in the garage and disposed the evidence.

 

And That’s When The Fight Started.

English: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Eastern...

English: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Eastern Garter Snake) in Spangler Park, Wooster, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You tell me if this is a true story or a fairy tale. What ever it is a very creative attempt to make me laugh out loud. Oh, I forgot, LOL. Thanks Joyce and Frank for sending a cool story.

All Snakes Are Bad Snakes

Garden Grass Snakes also known as Garter Snakes (Thamn ophis sirta lis) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here’s why.

A couple in Penn Valley, California , had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants.  When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.  She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.  He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it.

About that time the family dog came and cold- nosed him on the behind.
He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor .

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.

The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher.  That’s when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake.  He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch.  Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa. The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out , tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods , knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.By now, the police had arrived.

Breathe here. …..

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little green snake .The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table .The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department .

The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power , and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area but they did get the house fire out.

Time passed!

Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world .

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night . The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that’s when the fight started.

Sneaky Slinky

SlinkyHe’s baaack.  A few weeks ago, I noticed a huge garter snake on the front lawn. He is easily seven hundred and sixty centimeters  long, and three centimeters in diameter. I was curious, and moved closer to take a look. He slithered off into the Barberry shrubs and disappeared. Oh well, I forgot about him. The next week I was cleaning the pond of algae when I noticed a strange looking stick protruding from the edge of the waterfall. Upon looking longer, I realized it was Slinky holding his head vertically erect a full six inches above the waters edge. I kept cleaning the pond. He disappeared again. A few minutes later I saw him emerge from the rocks that hide the filter tank. He sprawled on the rocks like a piece of rope. I moved closer to get a better look. He immediately slithered between the rocks and disappeared.

Later in the evening, Peggy and I walked around the yard looking at the flowers. We were admiring the California poppies when she noticed something move in the foilage. I reached down to spread the stems; nothing was there. We walked a few steps more when I spotted Slinky again. He’s the one who moved in the poppies, and  now, was on the edge of the water on the rocks.

Later in the week, Mike came by and I showed him Slinky and his home. We stood within four feet of the spot and talked. I happened to look away from Mike for a moment only to see the snake slithering through the lawn into the wetlands. He went on the lam through the back door. Good riddance I thought.

Every time I weed or clean around the pond, I watch for my new found pet. I hate snakes, and would rather do him in than tolerate him, but I must get over my childhood fears. I know what my mother would have done. She would have stalked Slinky with a hoe, and at the first opportunity he would have been twins.

Yesterday, I walked out the front door to my car, and noticed Slinky on the lawn again. This time he was only partially emerged from his den. He lives under the walkway to the house. As soon as I stalked him to get a better look, he disappeared into the hole under the concrete.  Since then, I have seen him several more times in the morning when the sun  warms the concrete. 

I will be speaking to my Master Gardener friends to re-learn the techniques for capturing  a slithering slinky garter snake. He gives me the creeps.

Slinky Eyes Me Up

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