,

Snakes

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there was a field next to

this place we called the

‘Tub Factory’

over by the

creek

where we caught

crawdads …

…..

we went there to catch

dozens of garter

snakes we could

take

for the

asking …

…..

we

stepped on their

tails

pinched them behind their

heads

then held them

up

watching their tongues

flicker

while looking into

their cold

angry eyes …

…..

their round teeth wouldn’t break your

skin when they

bit …

…..

but

you didn’t want this to

happen

because

it was hard to make them

let go …

…..

their pee gave off a

foul smell

if you accidentally

rubbed their

 bellies …

 …..

we collected them in

coffee cans …

6 or 8 to a can all

writhing

at the

bottom …

…..

once I took a can home to

show my

mom …

…..

she wouldn’t let me

keep them as

pets …

*****

that field was in back of the

rambling old Eden House

(… with it’s sagging facia and

clapboard wood siding that time had

painted weathered and

grey …)

where a family

of

Native Americans

… 6 or 7 brothers and sisters …

lived …

….. one of the daughters Fracene …

my age …

was sweet and shy

embarrased perhaps

because she looked different

or

because her father

a

hard drinking

railroad-man

was abusive …

…..

even to people

outside his

family … !!

…..

one of her brothers

John

was the

bad apple

of the

family …

…..

he combed his thick

black hair

into a

greasy pompadour

wore

cuffed jeans

pointed black shoes plaid

shirts unbuttoned half way

down

cigarette packs

visible in

his

pocket

or

white

t-shirts

with

packs of cigarettes

rolled into the

sleeve …

 …even at school … ! !…

…..

his white teeth and

half grin belied

cold snakelike eyes

that said

you were

a

weakling

that he could

kill …

… if he

wanted to …

….. 

some said

he even

scared his

father … !

…..

legend had it that when

John was

young

he tied cats tails

together,

threw them over

clothes lines

and

set them on

fire …

…..

later in life,

he

married a

nice girl

 changed his

ways and

became a Baptist

minister …

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