Mojave

     The black car slowly makes its way down the smooth dirt road headed towards the ranch that is the destination for the occupants of the car. The sagebrush and cactus are barely visible beyond the headlights and the lights of the house they are headed towards are barely visible on the horizon. There is only a sliver of a moon hovering over the desert as the car glides down the road.

     “Stop the car, I see one laying across the road.”

Sherrie brings to car to a stop. “I don’t see anything.”

Tom has a large flashlight in his hand and he hands it to Sherrie. “It’s right there stretched out across the road. I want you to point this light right in front of me and keep it there.”

Sherrie grabs the flashlight and turns it on as Tom gets out of the car. She focuses the beam in front of him as he walks around in front of the car. All of a sudden she can see the six foot rattlesnake that is stretched across the road. It is soaking up the warmth from the dirt that has been absorbing the hot desert sun all day.

“Pay attention. You need to keep the light right in front of me.” Tom yells at her.

“I’m trying. I really wish you wouldn’t do this.” She wasn’t too happy when Tom told her his plan to kill a rattlesnake so he can skin it and make a hatband out of it. She suggested that they purchase an already dead snake. Tom said they were too expensive and he has killed them many times before. He used to live in this desert.

“Hold the light still.” Tom says as he takes the pitchfork he had put in the trunk when they left the house.  They went to go to the county fair in nearby Lancaster. It was a much bigger fair than she had expected considering how small all the towns in the desert were. It had quite a few rides and a lot of food booths. Tom won her a stuffed animal at one of the carnival games. They stayed a couple of hours and headed back to his parents ranch. “I’m trying to. Don’t move so fast.”

Just about then the snake became aware he was being stalked and quickly coiled up and lashed out at Tom. Sherrie screamed.

“Damn it. Shine the light on the snake. Do you want me to get bit?” He sounds pissed off.

“No. I would prefer you wouldn’t even be doing this.” She is totally freaked out after watching the rattler strike out at Tom.

“You have made that perfectly clear.” Then Tom lunges with the pitchfork and pins the snake to ground. “Shit, it just bit itself. Now we can’t eat it.”

Sherrie is just glad he has stopped it from striking. She couldn’t care less about the meat of the snake being ruined. “That’s alright. Didn’t you just want to make a hatband out of it?”

“Yeah, but I was hoping to eat it also. It really does taste like chicken.” Tom stabs the snake again to make sure it is dead. He picks it up and puts it in the trunk of the car.

Sherrie starts the car up and drives back to the ranch. When they get there she makes Tom walk in front of her as they go into the house. She doesn’t want to run into another rattlesnake. After he walks her into the house he goes back to the car and brings in the dead snake.

“One time when I was a kid my mom ran over a big rattler on the way to town and I got out and put it in the trunk. We went to the store and then started to come back here to the ranch. Mom spotted the snake on the back seat in her mirror and freaked out. She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out. I took a stick and killed it but she didn’t want it in the trunk again. She made me sit on the trunk all the way home holding the snake. Dad thought it was funny.”

“I don’t blame her.” Sherrie watched as Tom skinned the snake that he had already cut the head off of. She couldn’t believe it as she watched the skinless and headless snake meat coil up as if it were going to strike. It was amazing what the natural reflexes of this creature were. It is a truly prehistoric monster.

When she went to bed that night she had a nightmare of a huge white headless snake striking at her. She knew where that nightmare had come from.

The next day Tom’s parents host a barbeque for their friends and neighbors to celebrate their son and his girlfriend coming to visit them. They had bought a lamb from one of their neighbors and they were going to bury it in a pit and cook it overnight. This made for a two day party.

The first day consisted of playing croquet and badminton on the grass and sand play ground that was set up next to the outdoor barbeque pit. All day long everyone played croquet and badminton in teams while taking turns throwing chunks of wood onto the rock lined pit under a large grill that they would barbecue chickens on for dinner the first night of the party. Everyone drank and ate all day.

That evening they dressed out the lamb and stuffed it with onions and garlic and poured jars of homemade salsa all over the outside. Then it was wrapped in wet burlap bags. The rocks in the barbecue pit were shoveled into a hole that was dug in the sand next to it and the burlap package of lamb slathered in salsa and onions was placed on top of the hot rocks and more rocks and then dirt buried the carcass.

The next afternoon the party started again and the lamb was dug up. The burlap was removed and the lamb that was falling off the bone tender was placed on platters. Piles of fresh tortillas and roasted vegetables were placed on a table for the guests to dig in. Cold beer was served along with the melt in your mouth tender lamb.

Later on in the evening, next to the barbeque, lay a six foot long rattlesnake. He is enjoying the heat provided by the warm rocks that were removed from the barbeque pit.

Tom is drinking beer and enjoying the succulent lamb along with everyone else. His parents are really excited to meet his girlfriend. He told them that they were planning on getting married. He walks over to the barbeque and walks right into the snake that is resting on the rocks. Before he has time to react the huge snake coils up and lunges at him.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes him on the leg. No one has any weapons. They are all drinking and eating.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes again. This time Tom manages to jump back and someone starts beating the snake with a shovel. The snake is killed.

Tom’s parents had a snake bite kit.They live in the Mojave Desert and it is home for rattlesnakes.

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