Dec 3 2014
“You have a lot of snakes around here?”
Roofer John asked me that this morning, as I moved hay bales in the barn. He was barely audible over the screech of metal as his crew tore at the roof above.
“Do we have alotta what?” I asked.
“Snakes,” he said, quieter still.
John’s laconic communication leads me to babble like an idiot. “Snakes? Yea, I guess so. I mean, we have one that lives in our cellar in the winter. We don’t see him but we find his skin in the spring — he’s pretty shy. And sometimes I see them sunning by the barn in the summer. Black snakes — they’re good mousers — so we like them. Wait… why are you asking?”
“We found a dead one.”
“A dead snake? Is it small? Sometimes the cats kill corn snakes,” I offered.
John gave a noncommittal shrug. I followed him and spotted the snake on the ground by the barn — its white belly, face up.
I smirked at John. ”Very funny.”
But he wasn’t smiling.
I waited for him to break his deadpan.
“John,” I said, casting a sideways glance at Mike, the sentry standing nearby. “You know that’s not a real snake, right? It was on the cupola on the roof…. to keep the pigeons from using the cupola to enter the hayloft. It’s fake. Your guys probably threw it down.”
Anyone else would be embarrassed or appear sheepish. Or express relief to discover a fake snake. Not John.
“Oh,” he said.
“Did it work up there?”
“Yea… it did.”
“So, I guess it should go back on the new cupola?”
“Yea… I guess it should.”
That’s the longest exchange I’ve had with John. Unfortunately, the pigeon deterrent did not provide a smooth segue into prying, personal questions about Amishness. Hey, speaking of fake snakes, why can’t you drive a car when you’re driving that engine-powered boom lift all over the farm?
It might be time to channel my info-gathering efforts on Mike. The driver.
Chauffeurs are always in the know.