A Death

I don’t want to hear about your hatred of snakes.

All humans are born with the fear of reptiles and fear of falling—no doubt cellular memories of our 200,000-year-old ancestors who, if they fell out of their nest trees, perished by fearsome predators such as sabretooth tigers and enormous reptiles. Our charge is to overcome our fears, especially in the modern world where you stand more of a chance being hit by lightning than bit by a snake, and snakes, like every single living animal, are now utterly dependent on our stewardship.

And just now I failed at my charge. I ran over a beautiful black and yellow striped snake, with my lawnmower. It was partially hidden in long grass under a bush. Worse, she was alive but cut in two, her jaws snapping open and closed with pain, her thick body sliced and spewing out young. She was pregnant. She had intestines; she had veins; she shed her blood for me.

I prayed for her to die, to let me not feel my horror, but she kept opening and closing her mouth. I picked up a piece of limestone and smashed in her head, and I bawled like a baby. When one becomes God, you see, one rolls the dice for all living things, deciding which will die and which will live.

She is out of her pain and I am deep in mine. I don’t want to be God. I can’t imagine anyone wanting that, yet here we are. We live in such an unbalance, an obscene unbalance wholly created by us, an unbalance the illogic of which could scarcely be explained to first graders.

Hi children, I am Gene, and in but a short amount of time I have become the destroyer of worlds. I will teach you how to be a destroyer of worlds, how to live free of all insect life, all reptiles, all noseeums, all bad things; all you have to do is fear everything and react to everything then, with Mommy and Daddy’s help, kill everything that’s left. Then you will live a perfect human life, with one tree per city, and the new forests of ten trees, one per state, in which nothing can hurt you.

Children, we all hate snakes. You know why. Why? I don’t know.

I know nothing, my words signify nothing. You—you have tee-ball and roller coasters and support animals and play dates and achievement certificates and no pain: yay you! Bad snakes! Bad!

You have nothing to be afraid of. We adults have made sure of that. We are engaged in killing all your fears. We have already killed half of all animals on earth. We are sterilizing your food. We have told you fairy tales about good people who do good things! We have made it clear that people who are different than you are will not harm you up to and including we hang them!

Just. One thing. You are going to die.

But that’s for another day!

I don’t want to hear about your fear of snakes. Look in the mirror and behold a horror film, a hallelujah killing machine. If you love anyone, advise them to run as fast as they can—from you.

I am a murderer. What do you do for a living?

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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1 Response to A Death

  1. Dede Bruns says:

    I think snakes are lovely creatures. I always have. I would have cried for a week if what you described had happened to me.

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