“If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”
Just kill it, the man had said – just kill it. The snake muttered to himself as he slithered through the tall grass outside the auditorium. His favorite politician, the only politician he’d ever actually believed in, the only one who he’d actually ever thought could change things – could fix things, even – the man he had considered maybe was the chosen one, the promised one, the messiah, the prophet, Maitreya and Mohammed and Christ all rolled into one incongruous package, a true model of American virtue, the last bastion of freedom and of capitalism, harking back to the good old days – an actual man who said actual things, smart things, righteous things, things that could maybe fix all the world’s problems if they were well implemented; a good man who wanted to do good things; and then this man goes and says an insensitive thing like that.
Just kill it. By all that was holy.
Why’d it have to be sssssnakes?
It was quite probable that nobody else who’d been inside the auditorium had even been remotely outraged by the offhanded comment. Probable because nobody else inside the stadium had been a snake (at least to his knowledge, and he had a pretty good tongue for these things).
The thought made him feel so sad and alone that for the first time he thought about ending it all.
The little snake looked back on his serpentine life. He had been born a snake, he’d lived life as a snake, and he knew he would die as a snake.
Ssssso much for freewill, he hissed.
He’d thought about forming an awareness movement, calling it SSSADL – the Serpent / Snake Society Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Presssident, he imagined himself making a speech at the White House, Mr. President, this rampant ophidiophobia will not ssstand! We must rewrite hissstory, rewrite the bible; we must reprogram the human brain. There are bad snakes, truly, nation, there are – but we are not all bad. Slither a mile in my skin before you passss your judgment!
But it was such a daunting task for one lone corn snake. I mean sure, you’ve got your rattlesnakes causing death in children and cattle, he thought, I mean sure, I’ll give you that, but we corn snakes are harmless, even beneficent, to mankind. We keep rodent populations down. Sometimes I eat twice as many rodents as I would prefer, he offered, just to get rid of their overabundance. I protect your crops; I smother the rise of diseases; I am your savior, your salvation – and yet still you spit upon me.
He was weary and lonely. He decided to kill himself. He slithered to a remote overpass and wove himself through the chainlink fence. Let them not avert their eyes to thissss, he thought. Let me be known in death. The snake formed a noose with his own body, passed it around his neck, and bit hard into his tail so that he formed an infinity symbol. He was pleased at the thought of this standing as his legacy.
The snake jumped. The knot took hold halfway down his body. But death did not come easily. The life left him slowly, painfully, as he bobbed in the wind made by the cars passing below. Eventually the devil came up from hell and tempted the snake with cold beer and newborn dormice, but the snake refused. Where’s your Ross Perot now? the devil taunted, and the snake said, Exactly, that’s why I’m doing this. Finally the devil said that if the snake would only give Ross Perot one more chance then together the three of them would form an unholy trinity and take over all the kingdoms of the world by force. But the snake said, No, thanks, it’s too late for all that. So the devil gave up, flying off into the sky with one last shout.
Ross Perot for king of the world!
About three in the afternoon the snake cried out with his last pained breath, Perot, Perot, lema ssssabachthani? (which means, Ross Perot, Ross Perot, why have you forsaken me?) The snake’s corpse, woven through the chain-link fence, formed an almost perfect figure eight. Over time the figure eight turned sideways, and eventually the weather wore his body away so that it looked like a hanging cross, like a cross made of snake skin had been woven into the fence, in the perfect shape of a crucifix. Soon this curiosity became a religious icon, a site of reverence.
As the pious gathered below, the ghost of the snake floated there alongside the ghost of Jesus Christ, and both shook their heads, muttering.
Idiots, they commiserated.
Once again, they’ve entirely missed the point.
“But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”
Jack Carr is a writer and musician from (South!) Jersey who lives in (Brooklyn!) New York. A story of his has been published in the Brooklyn Voice. He went to Columbia and goes to LIU-Brooklyn for creative writing. He will be publishing a collection of animal stories in August.