Monday, September 14, 2015

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #5 Autobiography

Hello friends and welcome to another edition of...

Ten Minute Freewrites

This one isn't quite a prompt driven freewrite, at least not based off of an image prompt. Instead, this is a freewrite based off of a writing assignment my students will be doing very soon. Autobiography! I make my students do a more story based autobiography, so I like to have examples from my own life for them to see what I'm looking for. Today I'll be sharing the latest of those examples. Enjoy!

Snakes on a Porch

"Yup. That's a rattlesnake all right."
My husband and I stood at the door of my mother's house, staring at the tiny coiled animal guarding the front door. The evening stars and crescent moon bathed the dark street in a little light, though the patio light outshone them all, and had likely attracted our new friend.
Mom was out of town and she had asked us to come house sit for her and care for the Blackmon Zoo, as it was often called. Seven cats, three dogs, a fish, and the myriad of hummingbirds and seed-eating birds she attracted every year to her back yard. It was almost a full time job, and it wasn't going to take care of itself. But before we could begin our new jobs as zookeepers, we had to brave the obstacle before us.
Summertime in Calimesa attracted all kinds of critters. Tarantulas, killdeer birds, nighttime frogs, humongous houseflies. . . anything imaginable. But one of the more dangerous creatures were rattlesnakes. Baby rattlers were the most deadly.
And as luck would have it, a baby rattler had taken up residence on Mom's front porch.
"What do we do?" I asked my husband, Joe.
Joe shook his head. "I don't know. Is it even alive?"
We retrieved the shovel from the backyard and poked the brand new Welcome mat garnishing the concrete patio. The rattlesnake wasn't happy and gave the spade a nice, friendly warning strike.
"Yup. It's alive," Joe quipped.
We called Animal Control. All we got was a recorded message kindly letting us know that Animal Control closed for business over an hour ago.
"Now what?" I asked.
Joe pondered a moment, then looked up the number for Calimesa Police and gave it a ring. The receptionist was very kind and she promised to send a patrol car our way within the hour. We sat on the curb and waited.
Twenty minutes later our patrol car arrived. . . with two more patrol cars in tow. Apparently Thursday nights are slow nights in Calimesa.
The lead police car pulled up next to the house and the sheriff got out. He shook Joe's hand and led his small patrol to the front porch. One policemen pulled out his gun and for a brief, terrifying moment, I thought he was going to shoot the snake. Instead, he activated the flashlight mount on the pistol and flashed it around the porch.
"Yup, that's a rattler all right," he said. "Do you folks have a shovel? We'll take his head off nice and clean."
I shivered. "Uh, yeah, I'll go grab it."
"Wait a minute, James," another policeman said. He pulled out something from his belt. "We get a lot of rattlers this time of year. Let's see if there's other methods of getting rid of the little buggers." He pulled his partner back a ways and moved forward with the device in his hand. I craned my neck for a glance at the object.
He held a can of pepper spray. It took all my will power not to burst out laughing.
The officer got as close as he dared to the snake and unloaded the pepper spray. The snake rolled around on the patio, hissing and rattling, desperate to escape the onslaught. It coiled around and tried snapping a few times at the can, but our brave officer courageously leapt back any time the snake opened its mouth.
Payload delivered, we stood back and watched the results. Five minutes later and the snake hadn't moved or changed, though to say it was angry would be the understatement of the century. The rattle hadn't stopped moving since.
"Damn," the officer said. "No dice."
"Get a shovel," the first officer said. "And let's not waste any more resources on useless experiments, shall we Bob?"
Joe picked up the discarded shovel and passed it to the officer. One well aimed attack later and the snake was neatly beheaded. Well, when I say "neatly," I mean "guts spewed out all over Mom's patio in a colorful display of barbarianism." Joe walked around the side of the house to get the hose.
"Hey, James, check this out." Officer Bob pulled out his phone, tilted it high above his head, and took a selfie of him with the headless snake. "Like a prize hunter, huh?"
"Bob, put that damn phone away and toss that snake into the trash for these fine folks," Officer James said. He turned to me. "Sorry, ma'am. It's been a slow night."
As if that wasn't obvious.
The policemen kindly dropped the snake's remains in the bin on the side of the house. Officer James shook Joe's hand again and the patrol left in a silent parade. Joe hosed the snake guts off the patio, washing away the only evidence of our escapade with our funny snake friend.
I watched Joe wash the patio clean with a frown. "There's got to be a moral to this story," I muttered.
"Yeah," Joe concurred. "When you find a snake on your front porch and Animal Services isn't available, call the fire department."

Remember guys that this is a piece of CREATIVE NONFICTION. I don't actually remember the names of all the officers, though most of the events that I wrote about did take place.

I hope you enjoyed the story! What important autobiographical story can you share?

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