I never saw the movie Snakes on a Plane. I couldn’t. It would be too much like art imitating life. You see, while I’ve never been on a plane with snakes unleashed, we actually had them in our house once when I was a kid. Blech! Not a lot of them; I’m not talking dozens. But more than one. And where there are two…well…ya know… The idea still gives me the heebeejeebees!
If you’ve read very many of my blogs, you know by now that I grew up out in the boonies outside a small town in Oklahoma about a half mile from the North Canadian River. About two blocks from my house was a small creek, and in that creek was a hotbed of water moccasins. Cottonmouths. Venomous snakes. Big ones.
It almost never happened that a snake would get inside the house. In fact, except for the one occasion they got in my parents’ house, I can’t remember any other time they were in our house. I do remember, however, going door-to-door to sell something for school and seeing what I thought was a baby snake slither behind Mrs. Gill’s sofa as we stood in the doorway talking.
“Come on in, Sweetheart,” she said to me.
“Oh no! Thanks! I’m good where I am!” I replied.
To this day, I feel awful for not mentioning what I saw to Mrs. Gill. She was about 85 years old and I guess I was afraid of her having a stroke at my words. That, or maybe I was just a coward. I was only about 10 and was completely wigged out at seeing any type of reptile slither anywhere, much less behind the couch of the sweet old lady down street! I’ve always wondered what happened to that snake. Did Mrs. Gill ever see it? Did it get out of her house? Did it breed in her home? Is it still there, 30 years later??
Karma has a way of always coming back to bite you in the butt, and she bit me pretty hard on this one. She waited, though…Karma, that is. She waited until about 6 or 7 years later when I’d all-but-forgotten about sweet Mrs. Gill and her houseguest. She waited until one evening when I was home alone with my younger brother. Our folks had gone out and left us alone. We should’ve been fine. We were 16 and 14. The aunts and uncles lived next door, and our oldest brother just behind them. There was absolutely no reason to ever suspect that we should be anything but perfectly fine while our parents stepped out for a few hours. And then, as we were watching some program on TV, we heard the strangest sound coming from the kitchen.
After several moments of this strange rattling sound, my younger brother went to investigate.
“Whoa!” he yelled! “This is crazy!”
“What is it?” I hollered back.
“There’s a snake in the plastic panel covering the fluorescent lighting.”
“Whatever!” I said. This was, I thought, just one more of his many pranks to scare me.
Within a few minutes, I heard my brother banging loudly on the kitchen ceiling.
“What are you doing?” I yelled from the other room, without even bothering to get up out of my chair.
“I’m trying to get the snake out of the ceiling!” he yelled back.
This is ridiculous, I though to myself. He’s going to tear up the house and then I’m going to have to explain it to Mom and Dad when they get home.
“Quit!” I shouted! “It’s not funny and you’re not going to scare me!”
“Cath! Ya gotta come see this!” he called back.
Several more moments went by and my younger brother continued to beat on the plastic covering over the fluorescent lights. I’d had enough, and so I got up to give him a piece of my mind.
As I approached the kitchen, I got really mad! There was my younger brother with a golf club in his hand, beating on that plastic shield! He was seriously going to get me into trouble! Somehow, I knew, I’d get the blame for this! I was not at all amused and was ready to give him a big piece of my mind!
“Stop it!” I yelled!
“Quit telling me to stop it and come help me!” he yelled back.
Still not convinced, I slowly and with much irritation meandered over next to my brother. As I looked up, I finally realized that he was serious! There really was a snake in the lighting! And it was a really big snake! OH MY GOSH! And then…only seconds later, what we thought was one snake suddenly separated into two parts and became two snakes!
“Holy crap!” I screamed. “Stop it! You’re going to break it and those snakes are going to fall on you!”
And oh my gosh! I couldn’t tell how large they were from that distance, but they looked ginormous!
In case you’re not aware, water moccasins – also called cottonmouths – are very venomous. They’re in the same family of reptiles as the rattlesnake, and they are extremely aggressive. A full-grown cottonmouth can get as large as roughly 4-feet or more in length. And they’re scary! Very scary! Especially when you live five miles from the edge of the closest town, and about 15 or 20 miles from the closest town with a fully-equipped hospital. We were home alone with no vehicle and, in order to get to an emergency facility, we’d have to first make contact with one of our neighbors (all relatives) who could take us in. These were in the days before 9-1-1 emergency services, and I’m not even sure that (since we didn’t live “in town”) the ambulance would even come to us! Even if they could, would there be enough time to get the anti venom before we expired a most gruesome death?
“Stop it!” I yelled! “Let me get someone to help you!”
I ran to the phone and called our older brother who lived down the street. “Come quick!” I yelled into the phone. “There are two snakes in the fluorescent lighting and our idiot little brother is trying to get them down with a golf club!”
Not surprisingly, now I was the one not to be believed. But he came anyway – very slowly – and brought with him a buddy who was visiting. “Hey Sis!” he said as he slowly meandered over to the house.
“Get in here and help before your idiot little brother kills himself!” I screamed.
Slowly the two men mosied on inside the house, taking their own sweet time. Within seconds, however, the string of loud voices and curse words streaming from their mouths began to burn my ears. I can’t repeat all that they said. I’d have to wash my mouth out with soap. I’d have to bleach my brain for just thinking the words. I’m a nice girl. I’ve never heard such awful words.
Standing as far back as I could from my brothers, I could see I’d made a mistake. Now instead of having one imbecile on my hands, I had three. Like the Three Stooges, my two brothers and the friend each had a golf club in their hands, and each was beating at that plastic shield trying to get the snakes down. And now I’m really freaked out! I’m screaming at the top of my lungs because I’m bright enough to know how this is going to end. As a woman – a young one even still – I’ve already thought through this process. I know what’s going to happen. Those snakes are going to fall through the ceiling, likely land on one or more of them, bite them and leave them for dead, and then they’re free to come after me! I’m no dummy! And sure enough, that’s almost exactly what happened.
In the midst of one of my award-winning, scary-movie-worthy screams, one of the Stooges had hit the plastic shield in exactly the right spot. The plastic broke into three or four pieces and those ginormous snakes came crashing to the floor! And just like the scariest movie villains, those snakes landed without injury and didn’t appear to be even the slightest bit stunned by the 10-foot drop. And oh boy were they mad! And oh my gosh were they ginormous!! They were much bigger standing eye-to-eye with them than they had appeared 10 feet in the air and behind that plastic shield! They were every bit of 3-4 inches in diameter, and 4 or more feet long! They had been disturbed, presumably from the middle of their mating ritual, and they were furious at the disruption! They had landed on our kitchen floor with a loud THUD! and they were ready for action! Larry, Moe and Curly, however, were not.
Standing around with nothing to protect themselves but golf clubs, these oh-so-bright boys were caught off guard and with their proverbial pants down. With mouths open and ready to strike, the cottonmouths were poised and ready for battle. They had coiled into strike poses with jaws opened wide and there was no doubt who would win this battle if something didn’t change quickly.
“Do something!” I screamed in an effort to be helpful.
With mouths agape in stunned incredulity, the boys were jarred into action and jumped away just as a set of needle-sharp fangs came toward the three, missing one of the boys by only inches. “What do you want us to do, Einstein!?!” yelled my oldest brother.
After more than a little arguing back and forth, I was dispatched to go find garden tools (a hoe, rake, shovel…whatever I could find) to use as defense against our venomous vipers. In the meantime, the boys were able to crowd each snake into a different corner of the kitchen and stood guard over them until my return.
Now that they had the garden tools, it would take them another five minutes to establish who had the best idea for ridding our home of the vicious vipers! In the end, I’m not sure how long it took those boys to get the snakes out of our house and onto that journey to meet the Great Viper in the Sky. I only know that it felt like hours, and all the while the only useful help I was able to provide was a blood-curdling scream each time one of those fanged devils would strike toward The Three Stooges.
After our house guests had finally been dispatched to that Great Creek Bed in the Sky, we were all able to sit down calmly and attempt to discover how in the world those nasty creatures ended up in our house. The only explanation we were able to agree upon is that they must’ve followed a bird up into the attic. It wasn’t uncommon for a bird to fly up into a drain pip and then get caught in the attic, and later end up caught in the fluorescent lighting in the kitchen. We could only suppose the snakes may’ve followed a bird up a drain pipe and into the rafters where they got stuck. What we didn’t discuss was why there were two of them, whether they were breeding, or whether – if they had been breeding – they’d left any offspring behind. It’s been 25 years since that day and we’ve never seen another snake in my parents’ house, so we have chosen to assume that our visitors came alone and left no progeny behind.
Mom and Dad came home and it fell to Dad and the boys to replace the lighting in the kitchen. Strangely enough, they opted not to return to fluorescent lighting and instead opted for traditional bulbs and covers. Go figure.
Not wigged out enough? Take a peek at this video of a guy giving us a close-up view of a water moccasin strike!