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Paul Rogalus

Snake Charmer

Ben's house—on the muddy brown pond in Rhode Island—Ben and Steve are stoned—and Ben takes off his shirt and stomps into the pond in just his jeans, screaming out that he's going to catch a fish—“just like a bear”—with his bare hands. He splashes around a while, grabbing into the water like a primordial beast—“He is like a bear,” Steve says. Ben gets frustrated and dives under the water—he's under for a while. When he comes back up—with another primordial shriek—he's holding a black snake in his fist. “I hypnotized it with my left hand,” he says, showing us—pulsing his fingers open-closed, open-closed—“and then I caught it with my right hand.”

“What're you going to do with it?” Steve asks.

“I don't know,” Ben answers. “Wanta eat it?”

“No,” Steve says, in his mellow monotone. “No thanks, I'm good . . . besides, snakes are evil.”

Ben laughs. “Then we'll give it a joy ride,” he says. “Snakes must wanta know how it feels to fly—we all do.” And he spins around in circles a few times, holding the snake out at arm's length—and then he lets it go—and it flies—in a high, graceful arc, and then it disappears into the water with a soft plunk.

“Wow,” Steve says to me. “That's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen happen to a snake.”

Paul Rogalus teaches English at Plymouth State University.  His full-length play Crawling From the Wreckage was produced in New York City in February 2002 by the American Theatre of Actors, and his one act plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Boston.  A chapbook of his micro-stories entitled “Meat Sculptures” was published by Green Bean Press.

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