It was a Sunday afternoon. I was driving to pick up my 85-year-old mother. She lives with my husband and me, but had gone to spend the weekend with my brother, Mike. She stated her reason for doing this was
“to give me a break.” I nearly got broken all right.
When I arrived at Mike’s place, the front door was wide open. There was no screen door attached, so anything could venture inside. I informed him rodents would see this as a welcome mat to come in and visit. Mike is forty-seven years old, so he nodded and grumbled something. It was his objection to my correction. I told him I loved him before driving away.
Mom and I arrived back at my house shortly thereafter. I entered, carrying two bags on each arm. I trudged through the foyer and down the hallway juggling them. I was thanking God under my breath for making me a strong woman, while trying not to get cranky. I put the bags down, and helped Mom to her room so she could unpack.
I proceeded back down the hallway and into the foyer. As I was walking, I stepped on something with my right foot and nearly twisted my ankle. I turned, thinking I had dropped something from one of Mom’s bags. I erred in my assumption. I hadn’t dropped anything. Something had crawled out of one of her bags. Lying before me, writhing on my hardwood floor, was a long, slimy, gray snake.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a “whisper-scream” before, but I produced one quite effectively in that moment. You know the type. The kind you try to bellow out in your dreams when something’s chasing you. Your mouth opens, yet nothing escapes but a squeak followed by a gasp of air.
I didn’t want Mom to see this, and have a stroke. I thought I was going to have a stroke. I hated snakes. I also had five cats, and didn’t want them bitten. I tried stomping on the snake with my foot. It still moved. I decided to go and get my husband.
I ran breathless into the kitchen where my husband, Tom was. We have a small television on the countertop, and he was entranced in a program.
“Homer…here…now!” I said. Homer was his nickname.
“What is it honey?” he asked. God was with me, because he looked up from the television to begin with. That usually didn’t happen, so I knew help was on the way.
“S-n-a-k-e,” I said pointing my finger towards the foyer. I even pointed my leg the same direction. What pointing my leg was going to accomplish, I didn’t know, but I did it anyway.
“Yeah right,” he said grinning, and went back to watching television.
I couldn’t believe his response. I was insulted. After 23 years of marriage, you would think this man could have seen the terror on my face, and taken me seriously.
“Tom, I’m not kidding,” I said a bit louder. “I just stepped on it.”
“Honey, there’s no snake in the foyer,” he replied.
I was now beyond insulted. I was mad. The same leg I had pointed with earlier was now stomping in unison with my voice.
“Thomas Alvin Bernard, I’m telling you, there’s a snake in the foyer!”
I had addressed him by his full birth name at the top of my lungs, so he knew I was serious. He got up, walked into the foyer, and looked at the floor.
“Oh wow, a snake,” he said.
“I told you!” I yelled. He began laughing. “What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Honey, this thing is practically dead already.”
“You’re big feet must have killed it,” he said. I wasn’t laughing.
He bent down and picked the snake up. It was no longer writhing as it had before. I felt bad. I guess my big feet had killed it, just like he said. Even though I didn’t like snakes, I would never deliberately kill one.
He tossed the snake outside. I still shuttered at the thought of the snake slithering under my foot. Mom later came out of her room. I was thankful she was hard of hearing.
“Honey, did you enjoy your break?”
“Yeah Mom, I sure did,” I said.
Mom didn’t have a stroke, and my cats didn’t get bit, but I was still insulted. I would deal with my husband later. But first…I had a phone call to make.