Lousy stick figure cartoon by Erin. This is why my college art degree is best left unmentioned.

You always have high hopes for a normal day, until the kids come home from school and shout, “Hey, Mom, there’s a snake in the garage.”


It’s not that I’m against snakes or nature in general. I just think slithering creatures with cold beady eyes belong in the woods, plains, hills, or pretty much anywhere that isn’t co-habiting with my family. Or my cars, for that matter. Now I’ve gotta figure out how to rid my garage of a legless freeloader. Why did it pick my garage anyway? As if there’s something good in there for it?

Oh, crud. I had to go there. Now I’m worried little brown mice are running around my garage, too.

Jonathan tosses his backpack on the bench. “It’s caught on that sticky patch trap.”

I blink at the boys. “We have a sticky patch trap?” What exactly is that? And why do I know nothing of its existence?

“There’s a dead frog on it too,” Jacob says.

“And a dead cricket,” Jonathan says.

I blink again. “On the patch thingy?”

“You know,” Jacob says. “It’s that paper square with sticky stuff on it so when an animal runs across it, it gets stuck.”

Since when do we have a sticky patch? Apparently it works well, seeing as how we’ve collected a menagerie of pasted creatures. Swell. “Where exactly is this thing?”

“In the garage, by the water heater closet,” Jonathan says.

Now I’m thoroughly perplexed. I walk right by that closet everyday when I take the dog for a walk. Shoot, even if I didn’t notice a sticky patch thingy, for sure Henry would. He couldn’t possibly pass it without getting some part of his body plastered to it. Most likely his nose. “You say it’s outside the closet, not in?”

“Yes!” they both say.

All right, I’m prepared to believe there’s some sort of a trap in a corner of the garage I’ve just never noticed. The boys probably don’t even know where the water heater is, let alone it’s closet. And I’ve seen tiny snakes all of three inches long in the yard. That’s probably what we were dealing with here. After all, how much can one sticky pad hold? “Okay, so there’s a snake on the pad. How big?”

“Big,” Jacob says.

“Like two feet,” Jonathan adds.

“TWO FEET? Stuck on a piece of paper?”

“Yeah. And it’s still alive,” Jonathan says.

The news just gets better and better. Still, boys are prone to exaggerate. I step into the garage to investigate.

Um, big icky snake all curled up stuck to an eight by eight square of paper.

Twitching. Why does all the unpleasant wildlife I encounter today have to be twitching?

Make that thrashing. Apparently only half the snake is stuck. It chooses that moment to wing it’s body around—sticky pad, dead cricket, dead frog and all. I jump well out of range. Who knows if it’s trying to free itself, eat the frog, or both?

With a last flailing twist, it seems to wear itself out.

It’s still stuck. I venture closer, and it forks its tongue at me. Eeew.

Worse news—I can now see a good chunk of its neck practically melted to the sticky pad. I cannot fathom how to free him without tearing up his neck.

As if I would touch it.

But it was so helpless, and it’s skin looked horrible. An unexpected ache of sorrow forms in my chest. Poor thing. For a moment I actually consider whether I could make myself try to pull it free.

Right. I’d find my fingers stuck to a pad with a writhing snake, a dead frog, and a dead cricket.

Now what?

Punt. I pick up the phone and speed dial Alan.

He answers, and I pour out the story, ending with, “How exactly did we get a sticky pad thingy in the garage anyway?”

“Oh, yeah, I meant to get rid of that.”

“Pardon me?” How am I the only one who doesn’t know about the goo of doom?

“A couple months ago, I told the pest control guy we’d seen animal droppings under the water heater,” he said. “They didn’t have any of their regular traps, so they put a sticky pad down. Last month they came with the regular enclosed traps. I forgot to get that pad out and throw it away.”

“Well there’s a big snake stuck to it now. It’s thrashed his way under the crack of the closet door and is currently flipping its way around the garage. Poor thing. Its neck looks like it’s decomposing. What am I supposed to do?”

“I think you’re going to have to kill it.”

“Me? Not a chance.”

“But it’s the kindest thing at this point,” Alan says.

“Right. Can’t do it. I have trouble killing a spider, for Pete’s sake.”

“Then you’ll have to leave it until I get home.”

Swell. “Hurry.”

When Alan arrived, he did the sad deed. I think a shovel was involved.

I felt horrible. And there was nothing funny about it.

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