Snake Killers

We are sitting around the kitchen in our beach house in Costa Rica when the phone rings. I answer, “Buenos Tardes.”
“Hey I need you girls to come up here right now.”
“Whats-a matter Trace?” It’s Tracy, our sweet Canadian neighbor that lives deeper in the jungle behind our house. But the phone’s gone dead.
Worrying for her wellbeing, the four of us girls run out of the house and up the hundred-meter path with two flashlights. As we approach her cabin she yells from the porch, “Stop right there, don’t come any closer!” we ask what’s the matter, why are we stopping, is she okay? She says there’s a snake on the steps and it just killed the cat. Cali and Carly have the flashlights and shine it on the steps revealing a ten-foot long boa constrictor. The skin blends in with the dirt and shadows, a dark brown and black criss-crossing pattern. It’s as big around as a two-liter bottle of coke. Sure enough it has just killed the cat and is now yawning trying to unhook its jaw so that it can make the constricted kitten into a proper dinner.

Tracy meanwhile is on the phone again, calling the local animal rescue people. They can’t take on a snake that size and say that we have to kill it. This is the third of Tracy’s cats “gone missing” in the last couple weeks and obviously now that the boa knows where to get food it will keep coming back. Furthermore, there is no knowing that next time it wont be inside the house and thus even harder to deal with. Tracy is distraught and still on the phone. I realize that the snake’s head is near the cat on the cement step and its first foot or so of neck/snake body is set against an ideal surface for machete chopping. So I call to Tracy, “Throw down the machete, we have to kill it.” And the girls yell with me, “Tracy throw down the machete, Molly’s going to kill it.”

Well, wait a minute. Yes, this is an ideal opportunity to kill this thing but do I really have it in me to take the life of an animal that large and magnificent. I’m not a lover of domestic predators, especially not snakes but that’s a really large beast to end. Smashing a spider is one thing. Chopping the head off a ten-foot boa constrictor is completely different. Eventually Carly and Brenna run down to the beach for help, yelling “Ayuda! Serpente!” and return with two local Ticos. They don’t speak a lot of English but the older one Chisco says, “It’s no problem. I kill lots of snakes.” They find a concrete dumbbell in the yard and as the younger man stands back with us, Chisco proceeds to smash and remove the head of this great beast while the five of us women shriek and cheer. Tracy gives them a bottle of rum for their services after the snake stops writhing headless in the dirt of her front yard. After all the commotion we go back down to our place, away from the scene of the double homicide, Tracy finally unwinds enough to cry over her cat and we all takes shots of rum before dragging the cat, the headless snake, and its head, into the jungle to bury them.

(this actually happened, but its written in the form it might take in a book I’m writing.)

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