Once upon a time I had an unwanted encounter with a snake. Well, besides the occasional garter snake sighting that’s so prevalent to living in Iowa. This encounter was very different, and it happened during a visit to my Grandma and Grandpa McCleary’s farmhouse in Joplin, Missouri. One nice afternoon many, many, many years ago I strapped on my trusty BB gun and ventured out into the woods behind my grandparents’ house. And no, for those now wondering, my gun was not an official Red Ryder 200-shot carbine action air rifle like Ralphie’s in the holiday classic, “A Christmas Story.” It was merely a Daisy, but a pretty nice one at that.
As I wandered about, looking for something to shoot, I hopped over a small creek, and suddenly there it was: a massive black snake, only inches from my feet, leering at me with hungry eyes while its tongue violently lashed in and out of its mouth. I blindly and quickly jumped backwards onto the embankment, on the other side of the creek, as the ugly beast remained on his side seemingly taunting me and daring me to try and get past him. As scared as I was I still somehow managed to gather my composure. I pushed the safety button on my Daisy to the off position, slowly raised the rifle, and pointed it towards the intended target. I took a deep breath, gently squeezed the trigger, and watched as all those hours of shooting empty pop cans in my backyard had finally paid off. Bull’s-eye! I saw the shiny BB pierce the scaly skin of the humongous reptile. As a red dot gradually appeared on the black snake I fired my weapon another nine or ten times until the creature laid completely still.
I scooped up the obliterated snake with the barrel of my rifle, and I trekked back towards my grandparent’s house. I was ecstatic while fully anticipating a much deserved congratulations, for my tremendous bravery and for saving my family from the beast, when I got there. My grandma was the first person to see my prize-kill after returning to the farmhouse. Beaming with pride, at first, I felt quite differently when after catching eye of the motionless eighteen-inch creature, dangling from my gun, she questioned why I went to all the trouble to kill a small, harmless, and innocent snake. At that point, as my heart sank, I simply had no good answer.