The Back Yard Zoo by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     It was a dark and stormy night. Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled in for a long spring nap. Actually my wife was curled up on the couch reading the Stephanopoulos book with Four-Warned weather waxing from the television, and being after nine o'clock, I was clumped in the bed drifting in and out of consciousness. The call came in (the phone rang) and Peggy answered.

     It was the call that all parents dread; sort of. Our daughter Erin was excitedly trying to explain a crisis; sort of. She was visiting friends for an evening of cooking out on the deck and just hanging out watching television. After a few high-pitched, quick sentences, we got the story. They were being held at bay by a huge snake on the floor in the corner of the dining room. She wanted her daddy's help. I liked that part. I grabbed my pillow case, and a this-will-have-to-do snake stick then Peggy and I were on our way.

     It was in one of those residential areas where they interview the neighbors and they say "He was always so quiet and stayed to himself." We burst through the door looking for all the world like the movie "Ghostbusters" only we were "Snakebusters." I knew there would be a problem the moment we entered the house. I was not concerned with the fact that Erin was walking from furniture-perched friend to friend attempting to calm them. It bothered-me-not that Carlos, a friend from Cozumel, Mexico, was standing in a chair with a mop handle at port arms. I didn't care that Jennifer was on top of a breakfast counter island fighting for space among the condiment containers; the pitch of her voice putting a strain on all the glassware in the room. It was of no interest that Jo Jo was hugging onto the top half of a recliner, and another Jennifer was just doing calisthenics in place while stretching her mascara to the limits. What got my attention was that one of the girls was holding onto the collar of a rather large boxer bulldog!

     I kept an eye on Tyson, the dog, and tried to find someone who could speak. Jennifer said that the cats, Little Bear and Leeshaw Shickity-shaw Hansome Prince (that's one cat!) were closed off in the bedroom for fear of certain kitty carnage in case of an attack. At first the snake was thought to be some cat barf in the corner of the dining room. Then it moved!

     It was a two-foot long diamond-backed watersnake. He had been flushed from his creek bed by torrential rains and crawled through the wrong hole. I grabbed him (gasp!), walked out the back door and put him over the fence. Tyson the dog slipped the grasp of his handler at one point. He just nudged my leg. Who you gonna call?

Jim Dunlap,

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