A Snake in the Grass

By Marc Dion

September 18, 2015 4 min read

In Missouri, a female snake in captivity has given birth without the assistance of a male snake. She did it last year, too. The snake, who lives alone and seems to have no name, is a yellow-bellied water snake.

I grew up in Missouri, and I don't know if I've ever seen a yellow-bellied water snake. Like most of my friends and neighbors, I killed every snake I saw, long before the snake and I got a chance to show each other our bellies. We operated on the theology that a snake couldn't poison you if it had been beaten into a wet spot on the grass. Living among rattlesnakes does not make you fond of taking chances.

Now, virgin birth among snakes? Caitlyn Jenner? Donald Trump's hair? Surely this is the End of Days.

Still, the world's been ending since it was born and will probably be ending for some time to come.

Science can explain everything. Caitlyn Jenner? A bustier and eye makeup. Donald Trump's hair? A comb and hair spray.

I'm no scientist but, if you'll pardon a country solution to a complex problem, I think the virgin snake birth is easier to explain than you might think. I have, as they say, been around.

My old buddy Renaldo had the same problem with his daughter Katie, who started looking suspiciously fleshy about the middle of last fall. Being possessed of certain Old Country ways, Renaldo watched Katie like your dog watches every forkful of steak you put in your mouth.

The kid was home-schooled, fed on pages from the Bible, accompanied by her mother even unto the mall. Yea, verily.

The questions were put to the sobbing teenager: How? When? Who? Renaldo thundered in two languages. Her mother wept in two languages. Her wrinkled old grandmother called the kid un-nice names in two languages.

Of course, the truth came out, as it will when thundering, weeping and un-nice names form an unholy trinity. The kid talked.

A boy who skateboarded on the sidewalk in front of their modest home. He gave her some talk; sweet words; the gift of a teddy bear in a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt. He was a handsome, thin-faced boy with a struggling goatee.

The thing itself, the act of darkness, occurred in their own bit-of-America backyard, by night, near the shed where Renaldo keeps his lawnmower. Katie went out her window to meet the struggling goatee and her sad fate. The act of sin did not take long.

There is a child now. Struggling goatee does not come around. The court rides him for child support he cannot pay.

The scientists say virgin birth has been known among snakes, but I believe that's what the snake has learned to tell thundering father snakes and inquisitive zookeepers. Somewhere, there is a male yellow-bellied water snake, probably whip-thin and weedy, who has a guilty secret and who has slithered into a zoo he should never have visited.

Love (or its quick counterfeit) always finds a way.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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