Water Moccasins in
my . . . Bed
“There are snakes in the bed! There are snakes in the bed!” Screams without answers don’t help much. Help. Where was the help? I needed help, and I needed it now. I continued screaming. “There are snakes in the bed! There are snakes in the bed!”
My help burst through the door. Daddy in boxers and t-shirt and Mama in her pink gown came running into the room. By this time, I had successfully managed to jump from the double bed that I shared with my ever-so-smart, nine-year-old sister to the cold tile floor. See, being a year older, she always knew more, or so she thought. She had slept through all my cries for help. See, I told you she was smart. Who else could sleep with snakes in the bed? She seemed to almost fly as Daddy grabbed her shirt and jerked her from that bed onto that same cold tile floor, her hands frantically searching for something to grasp, hair in a mess, and legs straight up in the air. She came to life as soon as she hit that cold floor. It was not a pretty sight.
This dreadful night was the result of one of my dad’s and my famous fishing trips to the Alapaha River. I can still hear my Granny Luke, “You know it is a sin to fish on the Lord’s Day. You know God is going to get you if you keep fishing on Sundays.” God finally had enough, and was He ready to teach me a lesson about skipping church to go fishing.
Daddy and I spent many a Sunday on that river. I had become the official tree limb holder. “Catch a hold to that there branch, and let me see if there are any fish here.” Depending on whether he caught a fish or not, he would move the boat to another location or tie the boat to the branch so we could both fish. “You’d better check that tree and see if there’s any snake before you stick your hand in it.” Daddy always had great advice. And protective, boy, was he protective.
He would pull out his gun and shoot. I never knew that a snake was nearby until I heard the booming sound of the gun and saw the snake fall from the tree only to land inches from the side of the boat, disappearing into the dark, mysterious waters. “Daddy, I wish you would tell me before you shoot.”
“Ah, if I did, it would scare the snake.”
Anyways, God provided many snakes that day. Did I mention? I’m terrified of snakes, big or small. When I see a snake, my heart pounds, and I get sick on my stomach. I usually end up running in the opposite direction. So you can imagine my thought process. Granny was right; God is finally going to get us.
“Are you about ready to call it a day?”
My usual reply of “No, let’s give the fish a try on up the river,” was not the answer that day as it had been so many times before. “I’m ready if you are.” I hoped it sounded convincing. It must have because Daddy began to pull the old rope to start the boat’s motor.
It wasn’t long until we were at the landing and ready to load the boat. “Stand over there out of the way so I can back the truck up.” I moved to the side, still holding the rope tied to the boat. Daddy backed the boat trailer down into the muddy river as I proceeded to let some of the rope go so the boat could drift back behind the trailer. With the hitch and rope connected, Daddy began rolling the boat up on the trailer. “Get those poles and that leftover bait out of the boat and put it in the back of the truck so it won’t blow out.” I did as I was told even though I had done this same exact thing many times before.
As Daddy drove home, I asked, “Do you think Granny was right?”
“Right about what?”
“The snakes. You know, she said that fishing on Sunday is a sin. Do you think she was warning us about all the snakes?”
“Naw, there’s nothing to that. Just an old wives’ tale.” I don’t know about old wives’ tales, but it was pretty convincing to me.
I didn’t give it much thought until later that night. My sister and I went to bed, and all seemed well. I must have seen too many snakes that day because I began to have one heck of a nightmare. I still blame part of it on my sister. If she had not insisted on those blasted Hey Diddle Diddle the Cat and the Fiddle sheets, I would have probably been okay. I must have been dreaming about those water moccasins, and when I stood up to pull the cord connected to the light bulb in the ceiling, I saw snakes. Snakes were in the bed, my bed. I screamed and screamed until help finally arrived. After a search of the bed and the surrounding area, we were told to go back to bed. It was just the black and yellow cat tails on those sheets. Needless to say, I slept with my parents the rest of that night.
So did I learn a lesson that day? You bet. In my opinion, Granny was right. That ended my fishing trips to the river on Sundays. Daddy still goes, but I go to church, and even if I miss church, I’m not fishing in the Alapaha River.