The dogs alerted; I saw it, too. It was back again, snaking around the bottom of my driveway. Like a chameleon it changes color; last time it was pink, this time yellow. Many times I shouted, forbidding it in my yard, but here it is again. The dogs sniffed it, jumped back and barked. I called the dogs away and, well, I said it snaked, but I guess I never saw it move. No. It never moved; it just looked slithery and fat like a very short rattler waiting to shake his tail. It was daring me to come closer. I felt its icy stare challenging me -- eyeball to eyeball. I would stare back ... but I found no eyes.
The yellow viper flattened as if stalking his prey. He didn’t see Lee pull in the driveway behind him. The huge white pickup squished him thin as a razorblade. Water shot everywhere. Last night’s rainwater? Maybe, or blood like I’ve never seen before. I picked up a stick and slipped closer. Lying on the concrete a forked tongue slid out a wide mouth. The truck might have split it, but I say it was forked.
Odd marks pulled my eyes closer. I could read its tongue. Words crawled out its mouth. A dead tongue makes no sound, maybe it texted its last words spitting them out like a ticker tape. I poked it with my hickory stick. A picture of bananas at 48 cents a pound popped out. There was a Honda Civic sheltered in its belly ... well, a picture of one at least.
The yellow skin and white mush swelled with words. I saw another picture of an auto. It has a thing for cars; everything looked a good deal. Just to be safe, I whacked it again with my hickory. It still didn’t move so I carefully tugged the skin back further. More ads poured out like pop-ups on a flat-screen. Maybe this rascal plants those annoying computer ads on our laptops, which seemingly come from nowhere. And I just killed it. They will sing my name from every rooftop.
No, the advertisements best befit a newspaper. Had he swallowed one? Who eats newspapers? Talk about a bland diet. I’d rather be a vegan. Anyway, if he ate newspapers, words were not falling out the beast, they were coming in. He must be an intelligent creature, smart as a dictionary and a vocabulary like a journalist. Verbose? A verbose beast he must surely be.
I scooped it up with a shovel since Jack the Lab loves to roll in dead stuff. Into the garbage it went. But five days before pickup? I don’t know how the garbage guys will stand the stench. My dogs are annoyed by these things. Dogs are being protective, but if they are annoyed, I’m annoyed.
What is going to keep these driveway squatters away? Surely someone at the newspaper knew these intruders who followed the armadillo invasion. Certainly they would tell me what to do. I called; they hung up. Maybe I’ll move to a safer driveway in another city.
Someday, fortified by a beer or two, I’ll catch a dry one. I’ll cut it open and read its innards. Well, maybe not; I have too little time to bother reading a snake. “No Trespassing” signs didn’t work ... be danged if I’m gonna move ... next time I’ll shoot it on sight.
Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.