As I rode through the dessert all around me, were cactus and sand with lizards and scorpions scurrying to avoid me. With the sun in my eyes and the heat on my back, I was looking for a place to settle in for the night.
A long scaly rattlesnake with piercing eyes was lying underneath an old oak tree. He rattled his tail as I started to stop. I looked around and there was no outcrop of rock to hide me from the sun.
I needed a rest, and the sun glaring in my eyes just wouldn’t stop. This was the place I’d have to camp for the night, with no room for the snake and me throughout the night. I hated to vie for a fight but there was no choice with the hot sand around me. I knew that it had to be his life or mine to lose, you see.
His frightening rattled warning was enough for me; that shady spot I so desperately needed, I knew I would have to leave. "Rattlers’ have no mind to share," he whispered with a stare. I could keep right on going was all that he cared.
My thought to pull my trusty Colt forty-five and skin him alive was only that. As I eyed him, he sat up and spat straight at my eyes. He’d seen too many cowboys and now he was wise that I would try to steal his hide.
The scales on his hide a belt he could make, worth more than the money in my pocket, could I shake. I had him in my sight, thinking what a dinner I would have tonight. I pulled the trigger thinking that I could take him, when all of a sudden he jumped straight up at me. He grabbed my saddlebag and hung on, with his eyes glaring at mine, telling me to move on and leave him behind.
We were staring eye to eye, with him daring me to try. I sat there shaking and reading his mind. He was saying” Put down your gun, and I’ll release my bite. My hide, I am sure I will keep it tonight.”
Shaking in my tattered chaps, I rattled my old lucky spurs loud and hard. They were rusted on my old cowboy boots, as I prayed that this trick would work. If it didn’t, then I wouldn’t have a bite to eat or any place to sleep.
This fight I was in for I did not want, so I jangled them like a rattlesnake. The sound they made were of an old rattler looking for a fight. That was the last thing that I wanted tonight.
His response was to let go and slither away, not looking back sure that I wouldn’t stay. I hadn’t thought about my next move, I just picked up my gun and shot him through the head just praying and hoping that he was dead.
Dismounting my dear old horse I said, “Dude, you’d better pray that he is dead.” Dude nickered with a sigh knowing that I had a good eye and could shoot a fly right off a can.
I strode over to the snake and poked him with a long old stake; waiting for him to shake that tail that I feared, but as I looked down I could see that he was dead.
His Spirit lie there waiting for me to give thanks; and offer him to the Sun. His only wish was to let his Spirit be one with the world as his thoughts disappeared. For in the game of life, it is an honor to preserve life if you lose the game. He knew that it was time to lose his life.
I immediately pulled out my trusty old knife and carefully skinned his hide and as I admired it, I hung it out to dry. His meat was nice and tender and just what I needed; for I hadn’t had a decent dinner since I left my wife back home for the night.
Written by: Tamara Lesley