So, why did the snakes cross the road?
Well, in real life, to get from high ground to low ground, from a dry place to water, and then from flooding back to the dry place again.
Seriously– there’s a place in Georgia where copperheads migrate twice a year. Fortunately it’s part of a national park, so they’re able to close the roads, and people just, you know… don’t go down that road.
Well, I had this wonderful, awful idea.
Lock two lovers in a car and send them down that road when they weren’t expecting it. What would happen? What would they say? What would they do? How would each couple’s reaction differ from the last’s?
That, I thought, would be delightful.
It wouldn’t matter how they got there (unless that was part of who they were) and it wouldn’t matter how they got out–we shall just assume that eventually, they all get out, and nobody gets bit, and we don’t have to shoot anything because of the snakes.
But for just a snippet of conversation, there’s going to be guys, locked in a car, and there’s gonna be snakes.
So Merry Christmas, everybody. I Wish you all hope and joy, family if they’re good for you, peace if they’re not. Kindness and food for your soul and, whatever your faith, I hope the next few days are full of solstice celebration of whatever belief gives you peace.
Now, if you’re afraid of snakes, just stop there, because the rest of this is gonna be a big nope.
But if you can deal with snakes on the road… well, enjoy. (And look for Part 2 in the next couple of days, too 🙂
* * *
Regret Me Not– Pierce and Hal
“Is it over?” Hal sounded peevish–and, for one of the rare times in their relationship, young.
“Is what over? I’m not looking either, remember?” But Pierce definitely sounded like a grumpy bastard.
“Oh Jesus. They climb up through the engine. I read that once. They can climb out of the ventilation at any time.”
Pierce recoiled. He’d seen that meme too. “I hate you so much.”
“I was going to offer you a blow job to pass the time.”
For a moment Pierce forgot his fear and looked at Hal curiously, and Hal looked back, his magnificent amber eyes wide. Then they both clapped their hands over their eyes.
“OH holy trouser snakes, NO!” Pierce snapped.
“I may never have sex again,” Hal said, sounding haunted. “I”m twenty-three. Those are some of my best years.”
“We WILL have sex again!” Pierce said with determination. “But first…”
“One of us has to open his eyes.”
They took a deep breath in tandem, and Pierce felt Hal’s hand creep into his own. They laced their fingers together, and Pierce said, “Okay. On three. One, two, three, LOOK!”
“THERE’S MORE OF THEM!”
“Oh Jesus God,” Hal moaned. “We’re going to die here. We’re going to be the skeleton in Indiana Jones with the snakes coming out of the eyeballs.”
“I hate you.” PIerce thought he was going to throw up.
“But… but you love me, too, right?” Sudden vulnerability. Pierce opened his eyes and looked determinedly at Hal and only at Hal and not at the road in front of them.
“Yeah, baby. I still love you.”
“Even though I took the wrong turn into the state park with the snake migration?”
Pierce breathed deeply. “It’s going to make a great story. Just as soon as…”
“Yeah. As soon as the goddamned snakes stop crossing the road.”
* * *
Fish Out of Water–Jackson and Ellery
Jackson couldn’t help it. He stared at the road, fascinated. “I had no idea snakes did that,” he mused, checking his phone. They’d been stuck there for about fifteen minutes, the engine running to keep the snakes from crawling up inside. “How’s the Lexus doing.”
Ellery took a deep measured breath, the kind of thing he did when he was trying not to be perturbed. “Not overheating. Not guzzling gas. We’re fine for another hour, and then we have bout fifty miles to find a gas station.” Another one of those deep, measured breaths, exhaled through his nose. “Do you think they’ll be gone by then?”
Jackson assessed the situation with narrowed eyes. When he and Ellery had first realized the gate must have been left mistakenly open, and had come to a halt, there had been two, maybe three snakes on the road, with four or five on their heels. Now there were a good ten snakes, all of them ignoring the hell out of the Lexus, intent on wherever they were going.
“It’s getting hot,” he said after a moment. “You can tell–they’re moving faster. Pretty soon it’ll be too hot to hit the concrete, and then we can turn around and get out. See? That one there?”
He directed Ellery’s attention to one of the smaller ones–a tender adolescent snake, as it were–which settled its chest on the asphalt and then lifted suddenly, unhappily. Well, Jackson wasn’t fond of the heat either, and this part of the country didn’t fuck around in the summer.
“Yeah.” Ellery studied the snake dispassionately. “He’s going to cross, I think, but you’re right. Not too many after him.”
“Poor guy.” Jackson grimaced. “Guess you gotta do what you gotta do, you know?”
He became acutely aware of Ellery’s deep brown eyes, running over his face. “Yeah,” Ellery said again. “You gotta admire someone who works hard to survive.”
Jackson’s face heated. “These guys are going through that for a better spot,” he said, knowing they were talking about his own life and not sure how not too. “I mean, that’s good. They don’t want to hurt anybody, but, you know, snakes gotta drink, snakes gotta hunt, snakes gotta not cook in the sun.”
“Jackson’s gotta eat, Jackson’s gotta drink, Jackson’s gotta not travel the world alone.”
Jackson’s mouth twisted fondly. “Ellery, I’m trapped in a car with you in the middle of a snake migration. I’m pretty sure I’m okay on the company front.”
Ellery let out a sharp bark of laughter. “Although this was not quite what I had in mind.”
Suddenly Jackson started to chuckle. “Hey, do we get cell reception?”
“We should call Kaden. He hates snakes. Wait, even better!” He pulled out his phone and started taking pictures. His brother was going to fucking kill him. “This is gonna be great.“
“Mature, Jackson. I’m so proud.”
“Whatever. Here–you take some too. I’ll send to Kaden, you send to Mike–wait! Do you think Lucy Satan likes snakes?”
Ellery let out a pained sound. “I think it might be one of the few fears my mother has!”
Jackson turned to him, eyes wide and full of light. “Please?” he begged. Oh please. Please. Ellery’s mother–the most terrifying woman on the planet. Just once… just once he would love to see her discombobulated. Just once.
Ellery’s eyes narrowed. “You love my mother,” he said mildly. “I’d hate to destroy that relationship.”
“Killjoy.” Whatever. Jackson kept taking his own pictures. Ellery could play it safe with Lucy Satan, but Jackson’s family would never forgive him if he didn’t terrorize them with this experience via text.
* * *
“Seriously?” Crick asked for about the third time.
“Give them time,” Deacon said calmly. “They’ll move.”
“Not fuckin’ fond of snakes, Deacon.” Crick’s shoulders twitched, probably remembering the snake he’d told Deacon about in the desert “I mean, these guys are fucking poisonous too.”
Deacon grunted. He wasn’t fond of snakes either–especially ones migrating in groups. “Yeah. That’s why the car’s on.” It was a rental–they were visiting folks and had decided to go sightseeing before they had to be back in Atlanta to catch the plane. The wrong turn into the national forest had not been on their agenda.
“They’re fucking creeping me out,” Crick said darkly. He shifted in his seat and tried to stretch, and Deacon could see him dorsiflexing his foot and calf.
“Turn your back to the door,” Deacon told him, “and turn. I’ll rub your leg.”
Crick grunted and did what Deacon said, manually hauling his leg up and over the island. Deacon went to work on his foot and calf. Crick sighed and released some of his tension, leaning gingerly back against the car. “Thanks, Deacon. How you holding up?” It was a valid question. They’d visited Drew’s family and Martin’s as well, since Benny and Drew were making the rounds with the birth of their new baby, and while traveling wasn’t easy on Crick, visiting was pretty rough on Deacon.
“At least the snakes don’t talk,” Deacon told him with a shrug.
“I knew it!” Crick said grimly. “You were really good with all those people, but I could tell.”
Deacon had tried to hide his discomfort–had, in fact, been mostly victorious over the shyness that had so crippled him when they first got together. But new people were new people, and dammit, Deacon missed The Pulpit. And, “I miss our son,” he said wistfully. The trip was a short one–five days–and J.D. had an ear infection just before they were supposed to get on the plane. Kimmy and Lucas had offered to help Missy watch him for them, but it was their first trip away from him since he’d been born.
“Yeah, well.” Crick let out a breath. “I just wish, if we were going to have all that time away from him, that some of that time could have been for us.“
Deacon stared at him. Oh my God. He was right. They’d been caught in a whirlwind of visiting and getting to know Martin’s folks and Drew’s folks and talking about their families–ambassadors of gay, as it were, to two families that weren’t as familiar with LGBTQ folks as the people back home. But that whole time they’d been focused on Benny and Drew, Parry Angel and little Conrad, and on Martin, the young man who was going to move out to California permanently and become part of their friend Colin’s business.
This moment here, trapped by a snake migration neither of them had foreseen, was their first private moment in a week.
Deacon stopped massaging Crick’s calf. “You got cell reception?” he asked, and Crick struggled for his phone from his back pocket.
“I’ll push back the plane ticket and make a hotel reservation if you talk to Kimmy and Missy,” he said decidedly.
Crick gaped at him. “What?”
“Private time, Carrick James. Don’t you… you know. Want some? Just us?”
Crick’s mouth dropped open and his eyes widened comically. “Oh my God!”
“What?” Oh no. Was Deacon being a bad father? A bad friend? Irresponsible? They had kids from Promise House working with the horses–would that be too much to ask Shane and Mickey? “Nevermi–“
“Deacon Parrish Winters, don’t you dare walk that back!” Crick said urgently. “No–no. I think that’s a great idea! I’m dying for some private time with you in a hotel room. Room service? Can we get room service?”
Deacon had to smile. Crick did most of the cooking back at home–having someone else make and serve him food must have sounded like heaven. “Yeah. We can get room service. So you want to try?”
Crick leaned his head back against the glass and just smiled, his narrow face looking youthful and sunshiny and all the things Deacon had loved about Crick from their very first meeting, when Crick had been just a boy, watching Deacon work out his horse. “It sounds like the most wonderful idea in the world.” He shivered, apparently excited about the idea.
Deacon smiled, warmed by his enthusiasm. “Okay–so, phones out–“
“Can we do two days?” Crick asked wistfully. “Please?”
Deacon placed his hand on Crick’s arch, pushing a little so the stretch wouldn’t end. “Sure,” he said. He’d never been able to refuse Crick anything.
“Good. I’ll hand you the phone when J.D.’s on. He’ll want to talk to Deek-Deek.”
Sure he would. J.D. was three now, but Deacon reckoned he’d be J.D.’s Deek-Deek for possibly the rest of his life.
Before he looked up the number to change his tickets and book the hotel room, he took a gander outside the car. The snakes were still migrating, making their focused, wiggling way across the road. Deacon would never love snakes–but he had to admit, he Crick had time together, private time, because they’d decided to cross the road.
It could be the one time in his life he was grateful for snakes.