I carried the 6 2-gallon jars to paw-paw. 3 for the deacons, 2 for the elders, one for paw. He had me to bring them out to the hutch that sat elevated on concrete blocks under a pecan tree a ways back off from the yard. Paw opened the top of the hutch and using a metal rod bent crooked on the far end, hooked the snakes one by one and dropped them down into the jars. Hooking onto a seventh snake he deposited this serpent into a large-sized playmate cooler and after carefully closing the lid, he handed it to me.
Paw had told me a lot of things over the years. He told me the difference between snakes and serpents. "The ones with venom in em' are serpents boy." "Man and snakes never got along, but a serpent, well a serpent is in close relations with the Devil." "These serpents hide from the light. They live under rocks, in holes, in creeks. They hate the light of day. They fear the light of the Lord. Today we're exposing em' to the light of the Lord. Today we're bringing em' to the house of the righteous. Watch how they act. Just watch how they act. And I tell you son, Satan has given powers over to the serpent . A serpent will spent his whole life just waitin' for a chance to strike at the heel of man. It's their wicked nature. A serpent can smell a lie. To him it smells just like a fresh apple pie. He can see the truth and the truth hurts his eye bones. A serpent always squints. It hurts his eyes like black smoke from a burning log. Always remember that boy."
Well I did remember that and I was remembering it more and more often lately. I hadn't done anything really bad but I had done a lot of little bad things in my time. Would that ole' serpent, that ole' slithering demon smell the lies on me? Would he strike at me to reveal my wickedness? To expose my shame? Should I be the one down a hole somewhere, or layin' out warming on a rock somewhere squintin' when the sun strikes my brow?
Paw-paw said it's time. I walk to the car resolute. It's too late to take back what I said to that girl on the school bus. It's too late to put back that wrench I stole, or that ball glove I stole at Wal-Mart. I can't take it back. I can't say "un-fuck you" and turn around the cussin' I gave the girl in the parking lot two weeks ago.
Nobody should have to be scared to tote a play mate cooler to Sunday school. It just ain't right, but paw says it is. He's almost never wrong.