I bring them gifts, things any six-year old would love.
This time it included a dead snake in a pickle jar. I'd had it for years in my art class, something I'd drag out every time a student asked, "How do you draw a snake?" or "Got anything cool in your back room?"
Unfortunately it didn't travel well. When we reached South Carolina and I took "Mr. Snake" out of the van, the jar was leaking. The liquid smelled like a rotting animal and now, so did my hands. I washed them three times trying to imaginine the odor was more interesting than repulsive. No one else thought so. You probably get used to it when you work in the back of a funeral home.
No one, not even a six-year-old, wanted the snake.
What could I do? You can't just toss something this special. I knew there was still "life" in this dead snake.
Our rented beach house is a block from a string of cheesy tourist shops. I suggested that I sneak it onto a shelf at "The Island Mermaid", next to the pickled eggs.
Francesca pointed out that the store would probably be shut down by the health department. Further, I'd be caught on camera and have to become some kind of low-county outlaw. Finally, she said, it was a dumb idea.
Francesca was probably right. I would make a terrible fugitive and would soon get caught, whimpering in some mosquito-festooned rice bog.
I thought it might be appreciated by local science museum but, on this island, there aren't any. There is an old fort where the imprisoned Osceola died and a garrison where a young Edgar Allen Poe was once stationed but no science collections where a smelly grey snake might be appreciated.
My wife pointed out that every living thing ends up in the ground. "Let's bury it", she suggested. Part of me thought this would be a waste of snake, but heck, my options were limited. The smell was getting worse. I went along with it thinking a proper funeral for Mr. Snake might would be the best thing, something a grown man might do.
Surrounded by family we did just that. Rest in peace, Mr. Snake. May you stink no more.