So here is the story about “the rattler”
Now this was a long time ago, and I am positive that some of the facts will be mixed up, but here it goes. Kelly can correct me if I am wrong anywhere. She has access to this.
A long long time ago at a nice body of water far far away from our very own DFW (White River lake near Lubbock, TX). Two fun-loving kids (Kelly and Tony) were enjoying a few days of fun in the sun, water skiing, tubing, etc (and I think we even got dangerous and played some badminton too). Anyhow, we’re enjoying the weekend, everything was as good as it could be (we were heavily chaperoned lots of Kelly’s family was there) but we managed to have loads of fun nonetheless.
Suffice to say that a few days of fun in the in the sun was great but it was mid afternoon and alas Kelly and I had to get back to Dallas the next day. Well as it happens we were asked to make sure and get all of our stuff off the dock and boat so we would be packed in time. (I can’t remember if we were flying or not but we were definitely on a schedule.) Anyhow, it was about an hour until dusk and one of Kelly’s relatives mentioned something about them not wanting us out after dark because of all the rattlesnakes.
Now this was the FIRST mention of rattlers I had heard since we got there, and since we had been there for a day or two already I think we both completely disregarded his warning boy was that a total mistake.
Kelly and I went down to the dock, talked for a bit, grabbed all our stuff, and with impeccable timing, it got dark before we were halfway back up to the cabin. Now as it happens, I am in fact a rather chivalrous guy and was more concerned for Kelly than I was for myself (teenage immortality at its best) and was watching the ground pretty closely when I saw a “stick” laying halfway into the trail that was not there before (I know – big hint eh?).
What do I do? I stop and point the stick out (its about 6 feet away at this point) to Kelly, who got REAL jittery.
I know the range on the snake and it’s not in a position to do any biting (yet) and so I stomp my foot on the ground hard to get it to move away – nope – no luck.
I kick dirt at it twice it still just sits there.
Now keep in mind it is pretty dark and I am honestly thinking I might have just missed seeing the stick on the way down, so I decide to make sure. I tell Kelly to get back, at which point she promptly runs screaming back toward the dock. Using my beach-towel popping prowess, I use a tank-top I left on the dock and twist it up real fast for a really nice pop. Now I have left welts on people plenty when I pop people with towels. In my sheer fit of genius, what was I doing?
Yes – I was about to pop a rattlesnake with a twirled cotton tank top.
I twiirrrrll it up.
I pull the shirt back in a fluid movement.
The noise that came from that “stick” immediately after making contact with my godlike beach-towel popping prowess was one of the most surprising and scariest noises I had ever heard.
So…the “stick” wasn’t a stick. It was in fact a rattlesnake, and I just snapped it right in the rattle like a professional bullwhip artist. It was so pissed it launched itself up in the air laterally and landed coiling up towards me.
It was my turn to run, and at the time I was thinking “Kelly must be psychic! She ran way before there was a problem!” And so I ran all the way back to her to a spot relatively at midpoint between the dock and the cabin. Its not a short walk, and if memory serves correctly it was at least 100 yards from dock to cabin anyhow, by the time I get to Kelly, its not just one rattle going off – it is many many rattlers. A very large number of rattlers, all nice and concealed by the onset of full nightfall, but more than close enough to scare the both of us into thinking we were totally dead, awaited us in every direction is seemed.
We’re trapped in a small clearing with the sound of a gazillion rattlesnakes plying their trade all around us (we cant see them but we can damn sure hear them). We’ve got a distance run we cant make in the dark without light (nope we didn’t have a flashlight either), we’ve got a gazillion rattlers all around us, and basically we’re both totally thinking we’re snake food in a few minutes.
So what did we do?
We screamed our frickin’ heads off like we were already definitely gonna die in the next few seconds.. I cant remember what we said to each other but we were both really freaked out and I wasn’t about to let Kelly take the heat for my ignorance, and so we decided if it came down to it she was to get up on my shoulders when I made a run for it so at least she would get out.
But alas someone heard our pleas for help.
The neighbors heard us apparently. But unfortunately they obviously thought we were vandals or trespassers or something because they SENT THEIR DAMN DOGS AFTER US!!!!
So yeah now we have two huge dogs coming at us but apparently aware they needed to watch for the snakes too (they didn’t come directly at us at full run – they walked toward us like they were circling and growling a lot. Kelly and I are screaming our heads off even more. I tell Kelly to run if the dogs attack…somewhere in this she decides it is safer on my shoulders…or maybe I told her to I cant remember we have two dogs growling making their way toward us, and a field full of rattlers in between us and our cabin. Kelly’s relatives are made aware of our location by the neighbors and then when the neighbor finally gets within earshot we hear in between our cries for mercy “They kill snakes!!!!” Heh – do I feel like an ass yet? Oh yeah – the dogs are trained to kill rattlers! Score one for us!!!!!
Anyhow, Kelly’s gun-toting but not-so-courageous relatives wouldn’t come out to us with the damn light. But they were nice enough to offer to shine the light on us as we made our way up the trail to the cabin. So we still had a field full of rattlers to deal with.
Yep, I did it – with Kelly on my shoulders, I navigated the rattlesnake-infested field and eventually made it to the cabin. Neither one of us suffering any damage (except maybe to our egos) and the only damage to me was feeling guilty for the whole thing. Kelly was totally thankful but I never stopped feeling guilty.
Yes, I am positive one of us would have stepped on that original rattler if I hadn’t seen it. And there was no way to know if we would have been bitten by surprise on any other part of the way up to the cabin. The bottom line is I don’t consider what happened an act of courage. There were tons of things I could have done to handle the situation better, and instead of handling it better I resigned to get myself bit (or eaten by crazed dogs) to give Kelly the time and protection to make it back to the cabin.
Someone once said I was full of blind courage when I told this story.
Maybe so. I am damn near blind, and it’s no secret that Death and I have danced on more than a few occasions, but having that kind of courage entails some responsibility as well people. I might be more than willing to play the “Risk My Life” card to save someone here or there, but I’ve no right to involve anyone else unnecessarily.
Anyhow this is our Rattler story. Cheers Kelly!