I Shot the Snake, but I Didn’t Shoot the Deputy

Mamacita says:  This is a true story.  I shot the snake in my living room.  But I didn’t shoot the deputy, coward that he turned out to be.  Barney Fife would have been braver.

But here’s that story again, since you all insist. . . .

I have never been afraid of snakes. I don’t particularly like them; I don’t want one for a pet; I’d prefer to stay out of their way; but I’m not scared of them.

When the children were little, we lived out in the country. I figure, the snakes and other wild things were here first, and we built our house on land that was already occupied. We were the Europeans and they were the Indians.  It was an invasion, plain and simple.  But I digress.

I respect the right of snakes to slither as they please. However, I do not expect them to slither into my house uninvited and without warning. And if they’re waiting for an invitation, they’ve got a ways to wait.

Years ago, we lived in a tiny stone house which had no washer-dryer hookup. (We couldn’t afford a washer or dryer anyway.) I had a newborn son and a just-turned-two-year-old daughter. Several times a week, I loaded my babies and my laundry into the car and drove to town to my parents’ house, to visit them and to use their washer and dryer.

That summer day, I had two baskets of dirty baby clothes, diapers, etc. I had stationed the toddler beside the playpen where her newborn brother lay, to “watch the baby” while I carried the baskets out to the car. When I walked back into the house to get the babies, I froze. My tiny daughter was standing in the middle of the living room floor, clapping her hands and laughing and babbling away, and directly behind her was a large coiled snake, its swaying head raised up and its tongue flicking in and out,less than an inch from the backs of her little knees.

Coiled snake. It was an inch from my toddler's knees.

Coiled snake. It was less than an inch from my toddler’s knees.

To this day I don’t know how long I just stood there looking at that scene.  It seemed like a year, but it couldn’t have been more than a week.   I do know that it’s permanently etched on my memory.

When finally I was able to move, I MOVED. I grabbed my toddler and thrust her into the playpen with the newborn. Then I turned and faced off with the snake. Its eyes followed me as I sidled past it into the little bedroom where we kept our now-famous burglar gun. I stood with the babies behind me, aimed, and fired. I shot a snake in my living room. I hit him, too. Unfortunately, I did not kill him.

I made him mad, though.

He dashed underneath the sofa. While he was under there, I made two phone calls. The first to my husband at work, to tell him to hightail it home because we were under siege. Scared him to death, I did. The second phone call was 911.

That’s when I found out that I lived too far out in the county to receive 911 services. She gave me the sheriff’s number.

The sheriff’s office didn’t seem all that concerned, that I was alone in the house with two babies and a snake the size of Andre the Giant’s left arm. They said they’d be out as soon as they could manage it.

But speaking of ‘out,’ that’s where I wanted the snake.

So I picked up a broom, and started poking under the sofa. It had a little skirt along the front of it, and every time I poked, I expected to see fangs rush out at me from under that skirt. It was also a very old pathetic sofa, covered with little holes. So when I wasn’t watching under the skirt, I was trying to keep my eyes on those holes, because a snake could have easily popped out through any one of them.

I could hear the snake thrashing around under the sofa all this time. The sound of that scaly tale banging against the sagging sofa springs is permanently imbedded in my being. The snake was upset enough to make itself heard even above the screams of the babies. Sara was outraged to be in the playpen at HER age, and Andy was scared to death by Sara’s yelling. She never did see the snake; it was behind her the whole time.

Finally the snake made a mad dash for the front porch. I let it go.

Unfortunately, the front porch was being used as general storage and it was packed tight with boxes, etc. The snake darted behind them. I shut the door to the house and sighed a sigh of relief.

Soon the sheriff and his men would arrive and all would be well.

I watched out the window.

I watched the sheriff’s car drive slooowly down my road.

I watched the sheriff’s car drive slooowly PAST MY DRIVEWAY.

In a blind panic, I ran out of the house and fired a few shots up in the air to get their attention.

I got it.

That car screeched to a halt and drove BACKWARDS to my driveway, and came roaring down.

At first they were more interested in the gun than the snake.

Finally I got their attention back to the reason for their call.

The two big strong burly men looked at each other, and one of them went white.

“I’m terrified of snakes,” he said.


They asked me for a weapon, to hammer the snake with.

The only thing handy was a hula-hoe. Remember those? Not so good for snake-bashing, but great for weeding.

This is a hula-hoe. It's great for weeding and for killing large snakes.

This is a hula-hoe. It’s great for weeding and for killing large snakes.

We were going to use it to weed out the snake.

I took my faithful snake-scooting broom and started sliding it along the walls behind the boxes.

Pay dirt.

The snake came roaring out from behind a box, the deputy kicked it out the porch door, I handed him the broom, and the two of them together hula-hoed and bashed the snake into a pulp.

They measured it for me before they threw it over the fence. It was almost seven feet long.

Non-poisonous, but I didn’t care. It had invaded my home and put my babies in danger; therefore, it didn’t stand a chance. Mess with my babies and you’ll choose door number two, the one with the mother grizzly, next time.  A frightened, angry snake will bite, poisonous or not.

The deputies drove away, no doubt talking about the crazy woman and her gun, and I drove the babies to town and left them with my mother.

Then I came back to the house, pulled every piece of furniture away from the walls, and crawled around with a flashlight looking for a possible entrance for that snake. Nothing.

My husband came home, and I sent him to do the same. Nothing.

We figured the snake must have come in via the front steps.

We don’t know how long it had actually been in the house.  I had nightmares for years of a large snake spiraling up the legs of the crib.

I still break out in a sweat of horror whenever I remember the story.

Except when I’m laughing at the thought of a crazy lady, a gun, a snake, a quivering frightened deputy sheriff, and the whole scenario.

I still dream of lifting a towel from a stack and uncovering a pile of snake eggs.

Neither of my kids is afraid of snakes.

Neither am I, even still.

But just let one dare to enter my house again. I’m ready.

I watch “Rikki Tikki Tavi” with great satisfaction.

When I accidentally mow over a snake, I do not mourn as I do when I accidentally mow over bunnies.

No fear. Just memory.

Never put my children in danger, woodland creatures. You’ll never know what hit you when I’m through with you.

Please don’t lecture me about gun safety.  I was alone in the country with two babies, and I knew how to use a gun.  Ask other snakes.  Ask that enormous white rat.  Ask my son’s kindergarten teacher who is probably still upset with me for catching that other snake and sending it with him, in a bait box, for show-and-tell.

Oh, and there wasn’t a single mark on the floor or the walls. Nothing. The deputy said the bullet must have hit the snake in the head, traveled down its body, and stopped at the tail. Because they assured me that I had indeed shot the snake.

But I didn’t shoot the deputy.

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