The first venomous snake I caught was a Cottonmouth I had chased into a metal minnow bucket. The snake was a mere pup, not even a foot long, but I was very young myself being only five years old. The tactics I used were as simple as they were effective; I used the stick to herd the snake into the bucket, and then used the stick to close the lid, which had a spring snap on it. To me this was an epic victory of snake catching, and I assumed my parents would see this as my first step towards being a professional snake handler of some sort. As I carried the bucket back home, I thought this would propel me into the category of “Child Prodigy of Snake Catching” or something to that effect, not knowing any of the big words back then.
When I arrived home my parents were entertaining the preacher and his wife, so you can imagine the scene when I walked in declaring I had a live Cottonmouth in the bucket I was holding. The snake was killed, and I fared only very slightly better than that. Far from seeing the event as an example of having some aptitude for herpetology, my parents instead viewed it as a close call with Death. I think I was a Senior in High School before they let me out of my room again.
Most of the funerals in The South are held for people who were killed in car accidents, died from very unhealthy eating habits or smoking, and yet people have an ungodly fear of snakes and not cigarettes. I know the arguments that distinguish the two, and yes, it is a false comparison, but I think you can see where I’m going with this. We do fear those things that rarely harm us and we do not fear those things that most frequently kill us. The same people who will nearly hurt themselves getting out of a creek where a snake of undetermined species has just dropped into from a tree branch will cruise down the Interstate texting a friend while drinking a beer and holding the steering wheel with their knee as they try to get a wrapper off a Big Mac.
When I began writing about Demons there were a lot of people who warned me I might be delving into a rather dangerous subject. After all, they argued, Demons really exist, and you might uncover something they would rather you not uncover, and who knows what might happen if you do. As I have yet to hear of anyone out there who was possessed by a Demon, or harmed by a Demon, or even so much as seen one in a zoo, I had to think the probability of a Demon taking umbrage at me writing about them had to be somewhere between Custer’s probability of winning an election of leadership with the Sioux and Janet Reno becoming Miss America. Not that the odds were absolute zero, mind you, but were so exceedingly close as for me not to lose any sleep taking my chances. Honestly, I would rather be possessed by a Demon than see Reno in the swimsuit portion of that contest.
Some have suggested that my caviler attitude towards Demons might hasten the actions they might take against me. But this is an attitude gained from my previous experience with these creatures, and the experience of everyone I have ever known and that is zero. Should I fear writing about Santa Claus because Christmas will come and he will not? Should I fear writing about Hydras, or Yetis or women who really don’t give a damn about their shoe sizes in fear such mythical creatures might somehow harm me? I am a fairly rational human being. My research into Demons has been thorough enough to convince me those people who have written about Demons have fared no worse as far as possession goes as those who do not write about Demons. I have discovered, however, that writers do suffer from repossession far more than do those who do not attempt to write for a living.
Yet suppose those out there who fear the worst are correct and I do suffer from the invasion of a Demon. How long do you think it might last inside me? I think it will get in, look around, and then realize there are safer places to hang out. Once it has to scroll through the cast of characters already laying claim to my mind and spirit, it will be forced to take a number, and wait in line. This is not fertile ground for anyone looking to drive someone insane, you know. Worse yet, if I was possessed, how in the hell would we really be able to make out the differences? I mean, other than that pea soup routine which I assume is pure Hollywood, what is it that a Demon does that would make my life any stranger? The worst fear I have is a Demon might possess me and then the poor thing might actually die of boredom. It would be like breaking into a house that didn’t have cable or anything good to eat in the kitchen not to mention anything valuable to steal.
Of course, what the Demons really fear is me exposing them as real, you see that don’t you? Yes, a hick in South Georgia with a keyboard and a penchant for writing unearths some deeply mystical secret of the supernatural world and suddenly all three of his loyal readers know the one word of truth. That’s got to keep the nether regions up all night, I tell you. Maybe I’ll get enough people to fill up a small room to read about Demons and then… Damn, what exactly would we do? Invade Hell? Send an ambassador? Start going to Sunday School? I think even if I did hit upon some Great Truth, no one would believe me anyway, and the Demons wouldn’t raise a furry eyebrow at me. But if they were to offer me a bestselling novel or the secret to Tracy’s Mound…