“Kinda ironic the name of this place isn’t it,” I asked from my train of thought.
“Ayuh, sure is,” His smile broadened and he laughed a little,” Hasn’t been a snake here since the earlier 1900’s.” “Last one was killed in 1906, June 16th.”
“Wow, that’s impressive you know the date and everything?”
“Ayuh, I make it my business to know,” the smile on his face was one of satisfaction at his knowledge.
“I’d say this mountain could use a few mah snakes and a few less flatlandahs walking around on it, don’t you think?” His echo of my exact thoughts was a little strange and his smile was pleasant, but had an odd knowing sort of look on it.
“Well take a peek at what I got here,” he said while cracking open the lid of his cooler.
He raised the lid slightly, and I heard a faint rustling sound come from within. Gently putting his hands in, he pulled out a small snake, tiny rattle on the end of its tail swaying slightly side to side. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes, here was one of the snakes that had been so long ago snuffed out. What was he going to do with it? Let just one of them loose? It wouldn’t make much difference, I thought. The snake was beautiful though, its markings were slightly different from any I’d seen before, and he seemed to have no fear from the old man holding him. As I watched him handle the snake, I realized the old man had two different colored eyes. Both of them moved a little differently than the other, and I realized one of them had to be fake, a really good fake too, because I couldn’t quite tell which one. The rattlesnake wound his way up his arm, and came to rest in the sun that was shining there. It flicked its tongue a few times, and seemed content.
“Wow, so they finally OK’d that program huh?” I asked hoping the old man wasn’t doing this on his own volition.
“Ayuh, they’ll have started the official release soon, this here’s a little head start for the fellas.”
I sighed with relief that he wasn’t just going to release a snake by himself and hoped it worked out, that sort of thing could lead to a real mess.
“When you gonna tell the public?”
“Well, they’ll ah hear about it real soon, I’m not part of the wadeya call it, Public Relations’ Department in this heah mattah,” he laughed and smiled broadly.
“He seems to be really comfortable around people.”
“Not really, he’s a bit of a shy one, but I’ve spent some time as a snake I got the smell on me,” he had a mad sort of grin on him.
Maybe he misspoke, I’m sure he meant to say he spent a lot of time with the snakes.
“Just the one though?” I asked in a curious way.
“Nope, got 6 of em this trip. Be bringing a few more in the next few days. I’m sure they’ll ah take to their old home pretty well,” he stroked the top of the snakes back while the little rattler’s tongue flicked around for a few seconds.
“I’m gonna let em out down the way a bit, don’t want to put em too close to where the people congregate just too soon, give em a chance anyway. I figure. Well it’s been good talkin’ to yah Alex.” At that point he stood slowly, and placed his charge slowly back into the cooler. And without looking back he ambled down the path.
“Where you from?” I called down to him as he left.
“All ovah, but last place before I came heah were Iceland,” he called over his shoulder.
I sat there for a little bit longer trying to get my head around what was going to happen to my little mountain.
A few days after that I heard a story on the news, the Fish and Game department had officially decided against the snake reintegration, however it looked like somehow a container of the snakes had gotten away from an assistant Warden and had been let loose. Fish and Game had decided to allow those 6 to roam and would keep an eye on how they were doing with the local population and the program would go from there. No one could pin point exactly who the assistant warden was either.