Short Stories

Thirsty Critter

I reckon we should reminisce about summer for a moment. After all, it has been so cold lately that even Texas shut down. Here in the Carolinas, we have avoided the worst of the ice and snow. Instead, we have our normal rain in temperatures just above freezin’. It’s sort of like havin’ all the misery of freezin’ weather and none of the fun that comes from playin’ in the snow.

While I have been sittin’ here shiverin’ and thinkin’ about warmer days, one particularly hot summer day came to mind. It was the end of July when Satan heads to the north for cooler weather. Like most of this past summer, our heat index was triple digits.

Those are the sorts of days the good Lord can give you a heat stroke just for darin’ to go outside and stand in the sun. Here in the Carolinas, our humidity often exceeds our temperature in terms of numerical values, and this day was no different.

With the weather bein’ what it was, Darla thought it was a good time to head out and wash the cars. After all, gettin’ wet in one hundred percent humidity is bound to make you feel, well, wetter, and hotter. Bein’ the thoughtful husband I am, I stayed inside with the air conditioning to set a proper example of what a normal person does on such days.

It wasn’t too long before Darla came runnin’ into the house hollerin’ that there was a snake out front. I will admit, I was more than a little surprised. After all, snakes are not normally out and about in the heat of the day. That’s because they have good instincts and common sense.

I wandered out to the front yard with my bride. I got near the driveway, and she started hollerin’, “Lucius, it’s right at your feet, don’t move.”

I held still as a stone. My head was the only thing movin’, and my eyes were scannin’ the ground around me somethin’ fierce. I’m still not seein’ the varmint, but Darla swears it is there. Finally, in the shadow of the house, I see it.

The rat snake was only about four feet in length. It was still a good six feet away from me, so I knew it couldn’t strike me even if it wanted to. I doubted I was in any danger. After all, I was standin’ in the sunlight, and the critter was smartly hunkered down in the shade.

I was a mite concerned it could be related to the snake my late father killed, but it had been several years since that event, so I assumed it was too young to be of any direct relation. It was slowly movin’ towards the water on the driveway, so I assumed it was tryin’ to find somewhere cool to stay.

The next thing Darla and I know, the critter is tryin’ to find its way under our garage door. He’s pokin’ his head against the rubber bottom, lookin’ for any cracks he might be able to sneak under. At that point, I figured the critter must be desperate. As an exterminator once told me, “Most snakes avoid homes because they know it’s a death sentence.”

Evidently, this serpent had skipped class that day. Darla grabbed the hose and used the nozzle to spray it away from the door. I got concerned that would put the reptile in a foul mood. However, instead of gettin’ angry, he kept comin’ back for more.

Neither of us wanted to kill the poor varmint, but we knew if it didn’t get away from the garage door, it was goin’ to mean me gettin’ the shovel. About that time, the snake did somethin’ unexpected. He changed direction for a puddle in the concrete. It stopped and looked like it was tryin’ to drink the water, but the puddle was too shallow.

Darla said, “I think the critter’s thirsty.”

She turned the nozzle down to a mist and pointed it at the snake. Sure enough, that varmint raised its head, opened its mouth, and drank for several long seconds. I reckon he was plumb dehydrated. When it had drunk its fill, it turned tail and slithered back towards the yard.

Darla and I gave it a few seconds and then confirmed it had not headed for the shaded front porch. Satisfied it had returned to where it had come from, Darla got back to sweatin’ and washin’ our cars. As for me, I returned to my sleepin’ dog, sat down in my favorite chair, and took an afternoon nap like sane folks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.