me. The diamondback has fangs that can
fold up into its mouth. Isn’t that gross? If I were you, I’d tiptoe around that place. This
article says if you agitate the snake, the speed of its strike is so fast you can’t even see it
I shuttered at the thought. “What am I going to do, Dupsey? I promised Plato and Jack
I’d stay with Casey until they get home from Egypt.”
“Well . . . if the Cagney’s and all those other people who live up there don’t have for-
sale signs in their yards, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Just don’t
leave dog food in bowls outside. That’s like free food to hungry rattlers.”
“Great. You’re so helpful.”
“Listen, my friend, you asked for information and I gave it to you. Don’t kill the
The message from the messenger was enough to set off my binge eating again. I
pigged out on Cheese Doodles and anything sweet. Bags of candy. Boxes of chocolate. I
had already spent months wining and dining with Plato and my belts were growing
tighter. When Casey brought out the buttered popcorn, I ate my fill. When she baked a
dozen cupcakes, I scarfed down my six in two days.
Dupsey’s advice came to mind only a couple weeks later. I had pulled open the
kitchen door to carry out the filled dog-food bowls to the far end of the patio and after
accomplishing my task was already thinking about having lunch with my sister. As I
headed back to the kitchen, I don’t know who was more surprised, the snake or me. We
scared each other. Within a nanosecond, the diamondback had slithered into the cottage.
There I stood my knees about to fail me as I smothered a scream that would have alarmed
everyone in the canyon.
There was no way I could go back into the house and the rattler was unlikely to come
out. Even the dogs knew something was amiss and, although they stared at the open
doorway with perked-up ears, they made no move to investigate.
I waited and waited some more. There was no such thing as a remote or pocket phone
in the early sixties. I couldn’t make a beeline for the main Cagney residence, because I
didn’t have a key; besides that I was now afraid to step one foot into the grass. Of course
there wasn’t a human being in sight. No groundskeeper. No pool cleaner. Finally,
determining I had no other choice, I planned a scenario. I would walk slowly and quietly
to the door, stop and peer into the kitchen to see if I could spot the viper, and cross my
fingers that it hadn’t lingered there and was bound for an exploration of the cottage. I
prayed for Divine Protection as I proceeded with my plan. My object was the telephone
near the refrigerator.
When my hasty eyeball-only inspection of every inch of the kitchen revealed no
movement, I dashed inside and to the counter. I dialed the O for the operator and asked
for the Beverly Hills Fire Station serving Coldwater Canyon. “It’s an emergency!” I
shouted, panting so hard I could barely squeeze out the words. Then I sprinted for the
back door, slamming it behind me. The dogs hadn’t moved. I waited with them on the
patio for the arrival of my rescuers.
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