Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eve and the Serpent: One More Time

I opened the car door and turned to get out. My breath hit the still, hot air like an egg hits simmering water and hovered there – poached oxygen. My arms were instantly damp and sticky and my clothes, light and comfortable that morning when I put them on, suddenly collapsed onto my skin like Saran Wrap. I forced my bare feet onto the concrete of the carport and felt a brief moment of relief.

June in south Georgia. Ah, yes.

I gathered up the mail and my briefcase and my gym bag and the shoes I’d kicked off the moment I’d left the office. Arms full, brain distracted, I started toward the back steps.
Something moved. Just a little something, but enough. I stopped. Squinted my eyes. A snake. Stretched out his full length along one of the steps, his pointy little head raised up toward the clapboards, reconnoitering a possible breach whereby he might invade my sanctuary.

My heart clutched just a second. I quietly set down my burdens, forgetting for a moment that the audacious reptile couldn’t hear, and backed away toward the only weapon anywhere close.

I pulled the hose pipe from its wheel, turned on the faucet and began an aqueous assault that would have made any seaman proud. Water firing toward his head in a violent stream, the snake turned slowly away from the wall and inched bit by bit down the steps. It took at least five minutes to herd him off the carport, through the hostas and under the deck.

Only then, less than three feet from the deck, did I see the two additional snakes, twined together around the deck post just outside the bedroom door, a live caduceus. I turned the spray toward them. This time it took longer.

When the immediate crisis was past and they were dangling from the other side of the deck, twisting and turning like exotic dancers, I did what I always do: I went for Daddy.

Within 10 minutes, the two deck snakes had been sent to their reward by deadly-accurate shotgun blasts. (The first, I truly believe, was prayed away by my friend Mandy who had called in the midst of the initial assault.)

The friend I call Mr. Green Jeans has reprimanded me for my malevolent reaction, reminded me that those snakes feed on the mice that I hate even more and accused me of disturbing the delicate ecosystem around Sandhill.

Sorry. It’s just that, well, I don’t like interlopers. I don’t like my security being breached. I don’t like being reminded of my vulnerability.

None of us do. We pretend to embrace our humanness with its inherent fragility. We pose as sensitive creatures who are moved to tears by sunsets and big-eyed puppies and giggling toddlers, but it’s all a sham. And it lasts only until the snake crawls out of the branch and stretches out across the path blocking the way. At that moment, whether the snake is a reptile or another human being posing as one, what every one of us wants to be is bullet-proof and Teflon-coated, an unshakeable monolith inspiring the awe and respect of weaker souls.

Good luck.

Because what we all have to ultimately admit is that there are no bullet-proof, Teflon-coated people. And there are no impenetrable walls. The best for which any of us can hope is to have within reaching distance another soul with a shotgun or, better yet, an available prayer.

Copyright 2009

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Thanks for being available for prayer when I called, and always when I call.