Mark and I have been venturing out to do our own thing the last few weeks. There’s a new reading/tutoring project at the library I’m going to volunteer for, and Mark — well, I’ll let him tell you about his latest endeavors.
In the spirit of the recently completed Olympics I would like to share a potentially new competitive endeavor of mine with you.
Several weeks ago Valerie and I witnessed a snake trying to cross the road as we ran down the hill outside of our current house. She says it was a milk snake. In addition to rapidly slithering its way forward, the snake was also propelled by the momentum of cars going in both directions. It seemed that the snake was almost tumbling head over heels when the cars came by. I know that seems like an implausible description but it’s the best that I can come up with. Fortunately, for the snake, it did make it across in one piece.
A few weeks later I was running along the same road closer to town, when I felt something propelled from the ground latch onto my right ankle and coil up my calf towards my knee. I instinctively reached down with my right arm and flung the object off as quickly as possible.
Hesitant to cut short a perfectly good run I inexplicably continued along for another 50 yards before I decided to go back and check out the scene of this unwarranted assault. While approaching the corner, where the incident occurred the memory of the snake crossing the road concernedly played in my mind.
My trepidation increased as I looked at my right hand and saw two small punctures that had drawn blood. The fear grew even deeper when I glanced down at my right leg and spotted the same type of wound – 2 small puncture marks – with even more blood on my shin. My journey back was starting to feel more like 500 yards, as opposed to 50 yards, as I started to contemplate how I would be able to identify the object that had thoroughly disturbed the idyllic start to my day!
What if it was a snake? Would I be able to locate it? How would I identify it? Could it be poisonous? Where could I get an antidote?
It was with great relief when, as I approached the fateful spot, I looked down and saw a piece of partially coiled wire about 2 ½ feet long. My heart rate slowed a little more when I closely examined the wire and noted that the insulation was missing from both ends.
I quickly deducted that this was the culprit and that one of the exposed ends caused the small puncture to my hand when I flung it off of my leg. Similarly, the wound on my shin was assuredly caused by the other end when the wire latched onto it. No longer daunted by the fear that I had been bitten by a snake I changed my shirt and headed to the grocery store to do the daily shopping.
Upon completing my chores I headed up the hill, towards home, anxious to share the experience with Valerie and receive her assurance that my mental reenactment of the crime, and assessment of the crime scene, was entirely plausible. After all, considering her voracious reading of suspense novels, and viewing of television crime dramas, she has pretty much seen it all!
My memory of the Day-Of-The-Snake-That-Wasn’t is much different than Mark’s! He stumbled in through the door with a bloody shin, messy hand, and very pained look on his face. He sounded dazed as he said “I might have been bitten by a snake.” He told me about feeling something wrap around his leg, and swatting it off with his hand, and I remembered the milk snake we’d seen a few weeks ago. They’re harmless, and not likely to be climbing up the leg of a running man — especially one going at the blazing speeds Mark reaches. 🙂 I wasn’t worried.
I tried not to be dismissive of his concern as I cleaned and bactined Mark’s injuries — a boy from Camden, New Jersey, bit by a snake? C’mon, that would make a great story, but just how likely is it?? …and then I saw the two tiny puncture marks on his shin. And his palm. I actually felt that strange, hollow, slow heart thumping that happens to me in moments of extreme stress, and thought… well, let’s just say at that point, I worked hard not to let my alarm show.
I briefly wondered where a sharp razor blade was, and if I should consider doing the cut/suck out the poison thing that all good campers are prepared for. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. I decided instead I should figure out how I would get a potentially unconscious 200 pound man to the doctor’s office. Could I call on one of my Spanish speaking neighbors to come with me and translate? Out loud, I was pooh-poohing the idea that it was a snake — no sense getting him panicked and having the poison rush through his system that much faster, right? I asked how he was feeling, assured him that if it were really a poisonous snake he’d already be feeling the effects — as if I would know. I can be very convincing though.
Only after several minutes of exposure to my motherly calm did he think to tell me about the piece of wire he’d seen on the ground, and share his thought about that being the true culprit instead of a snake. Personally, I think he should have led with that piece of info. Nonetheless, my demeanor didn’t change — since I hadn’t shown panic, I didn’t show relief. I did keep half an eye on him for the rest of the day though, just in case.
That’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it.