“Arizona Rattlesnakes” by Ethan (E.G.) Farrelly

“How d’ya s’ppose we git outta this here situation?”

“Well, the cars are over there.”

“Sure are.”

“That’s probably our best bet out of here.”

“’Cept how we gonna git round all these rattlers?”

“Well, I’m not sure. Don’t you have experience with them?’

“I surely don’t. We don’t got this kinda problem where I come from.”

“You don’t have snakes over there?”

“Well, sure we do. Just don’t got this kinda problem with ‘em. I see maybe one er two ere now in then, but ain’t nothing like this out there.”

“I see.”

“So, I s’ppose we’re ‘bout equally qualified, give er take.”

“If there was just more than two feet in between any of them I’d take the risk.”

“Yeah, well there ain’t. Ain’t no two feet or a single fer that matter. Shit, I’d say we’re just ‘bout standin’ in the only damn spot far enough away from ‘em. Dead center.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Well, if it ain’t the truth… Y’know, I say we stay put a little longer an’ see if they don’t think we’re already dead er somethin’.”

“You think they’ll just go away?”

“I s’ppose. Ya got a better suggestion?”

“No.”

“Well then, we stay put. Long ‘s they don’t perceive a threat, I reckon we’ll make it outta this alive. Just gotta have a little patience, ‘s all.”

“Yeah, easy to say and hard to do in this heat. Not to mention we don’t have water. How long do you think this will take? I wish we just stayed in one of the cars. There’s a bottle of water in mine at least. And air conditioning.”

“Just settle down an’ wait it out. Ain’t nothin’ we can do fer it now.”

“Why did we have to come out here, anyway?”

“I met ya more ’n in the middle.”

“I know that. I just mean why out here. In the desert. I hate the desert. I hate snakes.”

“Discreet location.”

“Discreet location my ass. You ever heard of a mall parking lot? They’re pretty empty early in the morning. We could have just met in a damn parking lot.”

“Desert’s better.”

“Well apparently it isn’t. You call this better?”

“I reckon we keep still an’ ‘ave a little patience, it is better. No doubt in my mind.”

“Patience isn’t exactly my strong suit. That’s something I’ve always wanted to work on. I was hoping I could after getting this, but it turns out I need patience just to get patience.”

“’S how it goes. Ain’t nothin’ come easy ‘s worth it.”

“Alright, enough with the old man platitudes.”

“I ain’t that old.”

“You sure act like it.”

“We jus’ live a little slower where I come from.”

“Clearly.”

“Ya say ya was lookin’ ta gain patience?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, ain’t ya ever think ‘practice makes perfect’ er nothin’?”

“Look, I don’t have time for practice. I have a life, you know?”

“We all have lives, ‘n yet I know many a man makes some time fer practice.”

“Well, good for them. You people have nothing but time, don’t you? Things move a little faster in the city. You have to keep up or get left behind.”

“’S a shame, that it is. Life ain’t s’pposed ta be ‘bout that.”

“About what?”

“’Bout speedin’ round, worryin’ ‘bout erebody else, ‘nsteada keepin’ ta yer own troubles.”

“I am keeping to my own troubles. My troubles just happen to involve other people. Listen, in this world, keeping up is everything. If you let somebody else get ahead of you, that means you’re behind them, right?”

“I s’ppose.”

“Right. So, that means your life is necessarily worse if you don’t actively try to make it better than everybody else’s.”

“Naw.”

“What do you mean, ‘naw?’”

“There’s surely enough space fer erebody in this world. Ain’t nothing but space an’ the right head on yer shoulders needed fer happiness. So says the lord.”

“Ah, well the lord lost touch with us a while ago, didn’t he? I’m sure he’d have something different to say about our lives nowadays. Things are different.”

“They sure are.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you people are behind the times. You live too slowly out there in the middle of nowhere. Things are happening. The world is changing, and I intend to keep up with it. I don’t want to be left behind like you.”

“Ya think that’s fer the best?”

“Of course.”

“I don’ know it’s so obvious. There’s many paths in life.”

“No. There’s the slow lane and the fast lane, but we’re all headed the same way.”

“Shit, there’s another one.”

“Well, things are getting worse instead of better. See, this is what happens when you just stay put and don’t take action. We need to do something or we’re gonna be stuck in this godforsaken desert forever and die!”

“I reckon we oughta wait it out s’more.”

“Hell no. I have to get out of here.”

“’Fore ya do that, lemme ask ya one more question.”

“What?”

“Why’s a man like you want this shit anyway? Busy life like yers don’ seem ta cater to it. What made ya wan’ it?”

“I heard it was effective.”

“’Ffective ‘n what?”

“You know, spiritual healing or whatever. I figure it would teach me something that’s too hard to learn otherwise.”

“Like what? Patience?”

“Like patience.”

“Shit. I tell ya, there’s no shortcuts in life come without a price. I figure you was jus’ fixin’ fer a high like erebody else.”

“No, man. I want some spiritual shit. I just don’t know how to get it otherwise.”

“You come out here t’a white man fer spiritual guidance?”

“No, I came out here to a white man to buy something which would provide me with spiritual guidance. What are you on about?”

“Listen here, I’m a man of the Lord, sure’s sure can be. Still, now we’re stuck here an’ forced ta talk I can’ help but think ‘bout it.”

“Think about what?”

“Well… this here is the fruit o’ the land. God’s land. An’ these things is meant fer more’n just tryin’ ta find some kinda short cut. The natives used it ‘n c’njunction with respect of the time and space they had. D’ya know what I’m getting’ at?”

“Not at all.”

“I s’ppose I jus’ feel bad sellin’ this shit, now I think ‘bout it. Feels wrong. Feels like I’m stealin’ an’ abusin’ it. It’s s’pposed ta be used fer healin’ after all.  If yer lookin’ fer a vision, I can’ see any good comin’ from it. Not without a roadman. S’pposed ta be ceremonial.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have to worry about me after this then, isn’t it?”

“Still I worry all the same.”

“Well, don’t. I’ve got problems okay, and I don’t have the time to solve them on my own. I sure as hell don’t have the time for some bull religious ceremony either.”

“You may say it’s bull, but this is God’s plant. He put it here fer a reason, an’ it’s not ta be taken light-like. Ya got ta respect it an’ give yerself time an’ space ta git what ya need from it. Ain’t no shortcuts. Not without a price.”

“Enough with the tautological B.S. I don’t want to hear it anymore. There’s another one! They just keep coming! I need to get the hell out of here.”

“I reckon we oughta wait s’more.”

“No way, I’m making a mad dash for the car. I think I can jump between the two of them over there.”

“Ya oughtn’t do that.”

“Well, I’m going to. Thanks for the stuff. I’m out of here.”

“Oh, that sound’s the sounda the lord’s warnin’ fer ya.”

“It’s just rattlesnakes, man. That’s the sound they make.”

“You tellin’ me ‘r yerself?”

“Here I go—three, two, one!”

“Dammit, don’ do it.”

“AHHHHHH! SHIT! IT BIT ME! I’M BIT!”

“Toss it, now!”

“Shit!”

“Alright, well, ya made a path fer me, now.”

“Good for you! Take me to the—oh, I feel a bit lightheaded.”

“Yeah, that’ll happen. C’mon, let’s git ya in the car.”

“Yeah…”

“C’mon now, ya gotta work with me. Lift yer leg there—there ya go. Alright now, we’ll leave yer car ‘ere an’ come back fer it, alright?”

“Yeah, whatever man. Just get me to the hospital…”

“Alright, we’re goin’ now. Yer gonna be fine.”

“I’m not going to be fine! I can feel it… I’m going to die!”

“You ain’t gonna die, boy. Calm down, now. I ain’t never know nobody who died from no rattler, I tell ya now. It’s maybe a handfula people who die from them suckers a year, and you ain’t one of ‘em, I tell ya now.”

“Really? I thought you were a goner if you got bit by a rattlesnake.”

“Naw, that there’s nothin’ but hearsay. Rattler’s ain’t so deadly as other snakes. Still, I’m gonna git ya ta see that doctor soon’s I can. Ain’t no reason ta be dilly dallyin’.”

“Thank you.”

“Shit, I surely take some responsibility. I shoulda known we were comin’ up on a nest.”

“We both should have paid more attention.”

“I tell ya, this a sign from the lord.”

“Oh, enough of that, I—”

“Oh, now if yer gonna vomit, do it out the winda now. C’mon, I don’t need no stains in here. There ya go, git it out.”

“Shit, man. Are you sure I’m not going to die? I’ve never felt like this before.”

“You’ll be fine, jus’ ya wait ‘n see. We ain’t so far now.”

“How far are we?”

“We ain’t so far.”

“I’m tired, man. I can barely see anything.”

“Well, that’s alright. We’re almost there. Jus’ hang in fer me.”

“Yeah…”

“Jus’ hang in…”


“Hey now, there ya go. Wake on up now. I see those eyelids a flutterin’.”

“Mmm.”

“Yep, yer still alive. I reckon yer happy ta see me, despite the situation.”

“What?”

“I’ll give ya a minute.”

“I…”

“You…”

“I’m alive.”

“I told ya so.”

“I saw…”

“What’d ya see?”

“I saw a tunnel, a long tunnel with a light…”

“Oh honey, that’s just neurons firing off in your brain. Happens all the time for people who die for a minute. Reduced blood flow to the brain and all.”

“Ma’am, did anybody ask you? No. Ain’t nobody ask you.”

“I’m just telling you the truth, sir.”

“I felt so peaceful.”

“That was the lord’s warmth.”

“Neurons.”

“Ma’am, could ya maybe give us a minute?”

“Sir, do you need anything? This man seems intent on talking to you alone.”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Alright, just press that little buzzer if you find you need something.”

“Good rittinse.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Ain’t nobody understand but the lord, my friend.”

“I died?”

“Nearly so.”

“But she said I did for a minute.”

“Well, surely the lord saw reason in keepin’ you alive. He wanted ta show ya the light. He wants ya ta learn from this here experience. Appreciate life more, surely.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.”

“How do you know?”

“Because ain’t there no other reason fer what you just experienced.”

“But what if that’s just it… what if there is no reason?”

“Phooey. Ain’t no such thing as somethin’ happens without a reason.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“Well you just trust me, I’m tellin’ ya the truth.”

“I mean, things happening without a reason… It’s kind of a freeing idea isn’t it?”

“Whatchu mean?”

“Here me out. If nothing happens for a reason, then you could die tomorrow, or in the next hour even, regardless of what kind of person you are or what you’ve done in life.”

“Well that don’t sound like no way ta think ta me. Sounds like ‘n excuse ta do ill.”

“But I don’t see it that way. I just mean… I don’t know. I guess it just makes me think I’ve been worrying about things that don’t really matter, you know?”

“Ya surely have.”

“So, maybe I need to reevaluate myself.”

“Ya surely do.”

“I don’t know if it was God or if it was chance, but I feel like a totally new person. I feel like I can do whatever I want.”

“Long ‘s ya do good, I believe ya should. So do the lord.”

“To think a snake bite is what it took…”

“Snakes is important. Always have been. Jus’ read the bible and you’ll see.”

“Listen, you can keep the money, but I don’t want—”

“Naw now. I ain’t keeping’ money for somethin’ ya ain’t gonna be usin’. ‘Sides, I wanna wash my handsa this whole situation. I can find me other means fer makin’ money.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. Surely this whole situation is a message from the lord ta both of us.”

“Yeah, maybe it is… Alright, well let’s get out of here and you can take me back to my car. I’ll just need to get checked out real quick—”

“Oh, ‘bout that.”

“What?”

“As we was pullin’ away, I saw some feller take off with it.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I can’t say I know where he came from, but I figured there was more important business ta take care of. Didn’t want ya worryin’ ‘bout yer car while ya was dyin.”

“Well shit, now what do I do?”

“I s’ppose y’oughtta put word in with the police.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s all I can do right now. Shit, I left my phone in my car.”

“Tell ya what, I’ll go arrange fer them ta come talk ta ya, and I’ll git yer money out my car while I’m at it. I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

“Alright, thank you.”

“Surely it’s the least I can do fer ya. God Bless.”

“Nurse! Nurse!”

“I’m here, I’m here. What do you need?”

“It’s been an hour and my friend hasn’t come back and the police aren’t here. Have you seen him? Did he say anything to you?”

“Your friend? He didn’t seem much like your friend.”

“What do you mean?”

“Before you came to, he was asking all sorts of personal questions about you. Where you lived and such. I told him I couldn’t divulge that information. He said he’d wait for your family, but right as you were waking up, I was trying to get him out of here.”

“I don’t…”

“Why do the police need to be here, hun? I thought it was a rattlesnake that bit you.”

“Yeah, but my car… He’s not coming back is he?”

“I don’t think so, hun.”

“So… my family is on their way?”

“Oh yes, honey. They are coming from California, though, you know. It’ll be a minute still. What brings you all the way out here in Arizona anyway? On business?”

“Something like that.”


Ethan (E.G.) Farrelly is an aspiring author of both short stories and full-length novels. He has a dual bachelor’s degree in business and journalism, but soon after graduating he realized neither field was his true passion; he wants to tell his own odd and interesting stories.

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