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Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #1967963
A man takes his girlfriend to visit his parents in the hot and dangerous Mojave Desert
The black car crawls along the sandy dirt highway which leads to the ranch ahead. The surrounding sagebrush and cactus are barely visible beyond the headlights. The lights of the house they are approaching are nearly invisible on the horizon. A sliver of moon hovers over the desert as the car glides down the road.
“Stop the car. I see one.”
Sherrie quickly hits the brakes. “I don’t see anything.”
Tom is holding a large flashlight and he hands it to Sherrie. “It is over there stretched across the road. I want you to point this light right in front of me and keep it there.”
Sherrie takes the flashlight and turns it on as Tom gets out. She focuses the beam in front of him as he walks around the car. She suddenly spots the rattlesnake lying on the road. It is soaking up the warmth from the dirt that has absorbed the hot desert sun all day.
“Pay attention. You need to keep the light right in front of me.” Tom yells at her.
“I’m trying. I really wish you wouldn’t do this.” She wasn’t happy when Tom told her he wants to kill a rattlesnake to make a hatband. She suggested he purchase a snakeskin but he said he didn’t want to buy one because he knew how to kill them from when he used to live there.
“Hold the light still.” Tom says as he takes out the shovel he put in the trunk when they left the house earlier to go to the Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster.
“I’m trying to. Don’t move so fast.”
Just about then the snake becomes aware it is being stalked and quickly coils up and lashes out at Tom. Sherrie screams.
“Damn it! Shine the light on the snake. Do you want me to get bit?”
“No. I want you to quit!” She is freaking out after watching the rattler strike at Tom.
“You’ve made that perfectly clear.” Then Tom lunges with the shovel and pins the snake to the ground. “Shit, it just bit itself. Now we can’t eat it.”
Sherrie is glad he has stopped it from striking. She couldn’t care less that the meat of the snake is ruined. “That’s alright. Don’t you just want the skin anyway?”
“Yeah, but I was hoping to eat it also. It really does taste like chicken.” Tom stabs at the snake again to make sure it is dead. He picks it up and puts it in the trunk of the car.
Sherrie starts the car up and continues driving to the ranch. When they get there she makes Tom walk in front of her as they go in the house. She doesn’t want to run into another rattlesnake. After he escorts her inside he goes back to the car and brings in the dead snake.
“One time when I was a kid my mom ran over a big rattler on the way to town and I put it in the trunk. We went to the store and started the drive back to the ranch. Mom spotted the snake on the back seat in her mirror and freaked out. She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out. I took a stick and killed it but she didn’t want it in the trunk again. She made me sit on top of the trunk all the way home holding the snake. Dad thought it was funny.”
“I don’t blame her.” Sherrie watches as Tom skins the snake that he had already cut the head off of outside. She couldn’t believe it as she watches the skinless and headless snake meat coil up as if it were going to strike. The natural reflexes of this creature are amazing. It truly is a prehistoric monster.
When she went to bed that night she had a nightmare with a huge white snake striking at her. She knew where that nightmare came from.
The next day Tom’s parents host a barbeque for their friends and neighbors to celebrate their son and his girlfriend coming to visit. They bought a lamb from one of their neighbors and it is going to get buried in a pit to cook overnight. This makes for a two day party.
This first day everyone plays croquet and badminton on the sandy lawn area next to the barbecue grill and pit. The games are played as teams and everyone takes turns playing, eating and throwing chunks of wood into the fire. There is a large grill that will roast chickens for dinner. The hot rocks are for later.
That evening the lamb is stuffed with onions, garlic and chili peppers and homemade salsa is poured over it. The lamb is wrapped in wet burlap and placed in the rock pit next to the grill. Hot rocks are transferred into the pit in the sand. The meat package is buried under more hot rocks and dirt.
The next afternoon the party starts again and the lamb is uncovered and removed from the pit. The sumptuous garlicky lamb is placed on the table along with fresh tortillas and savory side dishes.
After feasting Tom’s parents call everyone’s attention to Tom and his girlfriend. Tom announces Sherrie and he are going to get married at the ranch in the summer and everyone is invited. Cheers erupt and Tom walks around the back side of barbeque.
He walks right into a six foot long rattlesnake that is enjoying the heat provided by the warm rocks that were removed from the pit. Before Tom has time to react the huge snake twirls and lunges at him.
The snake strikes him on the leg. No one has any weapons. They are all drinking and eating.
The snake rattles and strikes again. This time Tom manages to jump back and someone throws a beer bottle at the snake. It makes a hasty retreat back through the rocks where it entered the yard.
Tom’s parents have a snake bite kit. After all they live in the Mojave Desert which is also the home of many rattlesnakes.
© Copyright 2013 Michele Rae DeJean (chelebub at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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