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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD. 

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]

Deckert's rat snake(No, I’m NOT sure this is the same Florida species, but he’s big and orange!)

As our daughter Leah and I drive at high speed along a toll-free road in good ol’ Orlando –

Correct me if I am wrong, says Screen Four, but I think Florida has just three no-cost roads. One of them is your driveway.

– very late, and somewhat lost

Normal so far, quips One.

– my headlights momentarily catch something on the roadway ahead that is large and –

Orange, shouts Three, amazed. Did you see the brilliant orange on that …that … what was that big thing?

Leah and I both know already what the screens do not. The creature is a snake, and no small specimen. It is time for the two of us to mentally don our capes and cowls

Turtle Patrol rides again! shouts Six.

In the midst of the screens’ cheers, One interjects. Do the readers even know Turtle Patrol is your effort to save reptiles and small creatures from certain death beneath tires?

Tell ’em, coaxes Two, that it was born when selfish Blackie did NOT stop his car and move a defenseless little turtle to safety.

“Hey, Two – easy on the unkind adjectives! I was giving a stressed co-worker a ride and she, sure we were late, insisted I pass on rescuing the turtle.”

Three continues, Upon Blackie’s return home that eve, he saw the turtle smashed to bits, having made it just one-third of the way across the busy road.

Actually, clarifies Four, some turtle parts made it almost halfway. But sad Blackie still launched the Patrol.

turtle_patrol_shirts-r81074e14f562482eb41c29ef58cc48a6_8naem_324Our trusty Volvo, standard equipment for Turtle Patrol people everywhere, carefully backs up to avoid crushing the snake we’re supposed to save. I reverse far enough for my high beams to outline the reptile.

Pick him up, coaxes Three. So orange!

And so big! says Five, slightly awed.

And so dead, scoffs Six of the motionless creature.

“We’re too late,” I say. Leah jumps in the car and shouts, “Oh, well, Dad – let’s go!”

She’s doing a good job of hiding her tears, whispers Two.

I peer closely at this serpentine giant, head rolled back at an ungainly angle –

Doesn’t that hurt your neck, Black? asks One.

snake’s head rolled back at an ungainly angle, as I search for any sign of hope. I find only Death’s telltale sign: the snake’s tongue hanging out one side of its mouth.

“Leave it there, Dad!” says my daughter, eyes wide. Instead, I hoist this serpent, stretch the corpse across both my shoulders and weave the huge head back and forth in snaky movements with the right hand while my left tries to hold the big tail.

More drivers encounter our grisly scene, played out in rising swamp mist and garish lighting. They slow their vehicles, stare wildly, point until I step toward them, then stomp the gas and disappear.

Mourning the death of the brilliantly colored snake, I respectfully place him in the Volvo’s trunk and head for the home of a friend.

Or one who is until your next stunt, reminds Three.

“Dad,” Leah asks slowly, loudly, “why are you pulling into Hank’s driveway?”

But I am already out of the car so Leah steps out, too, and sees me lean halfway into the oversized trunk. “Hmm,” I say, groping in the darkness, “I must’ve turned the last corner a bit sharply. Think I slid the snake into a wheel well.”

Leah murmurs (in sub-Dad-can-hear undertones) and backs way off. My fingers finally connect with that huge, tubular body I’d picked up five minutes earlier. With a mighty grunt –

Oof! declares Six. That snake’s heavy!

– I retrieve the Loch Ness monster and swing him out into the coolness of the night. Triumphant, I run to Hank’s front porch, stretch Nessie to full length, prop his sizeable head up on a stone and jump back in the Volvo.

“This isn’t a good idea,” Leah moans as I back the car out and, headlights unlit, quietly drive to the end of the block, where I pull over and call Hank’s home.

“Hey, Krystal,” I greet Hank’s phone-answering wife, “I just drove by and somebody’s out on your porch.”

“Why doesn’t he ring the bell?”

“Too short,” I reply, smothering a small laugh.

“Well, why doesn’t he knock?”

 “He’s, uh, armless. Might’ve had, like, an accident or something.”

Horrible lines, says Three. You’ve got all of us and still you spew horrible lines.

 “Just answer the door and help him, will you? Call you back in five.”

Three hundred seconds in an ADHD head are a thousand minutes in yours, only not as boring. I call within two minutes.

janet-screamAn answering click brings only screaming. I shake the cell phone, but only get more screaming and a stressed “Blackwell?”

“What’s all the noise?”

“What’s all the noise?” Krystal needlessly repeats at extremely high volume. And pitch. “You know! The huge snake on our sidewalk!”

Doesn’t she mean porch? corrects Four.

I laugh uncontrollably. “Hahaha! The snake is dead.

Krystal’s voice grows distant, almost muffled. “Use the hoe! The rake! Chop its head off, Hank – hurry!”

They’re trying to kill a dead snake, says Five. If these two were dogs, they’d chase parked cars.

A deeper voice warns, “Get the kids back!” then adds, “I’m trying to kill it. It’s too fast!”

More shouts. Four says with a laugh, Did you hear what he just said? “No, wait – it isn’t trying to get away. It’s attacking!”

Screen Five gulps. There is that old bit of reptile folklore, he says, and I repeat his question to Krystal. “Wasn’t the snake’s tongue flopped out one side of its mouth?”

“Yes – until Hank went to touch it. Then it snapped to life and now” – she pulls the phone from her mouth – “watch out, honey, he’s coming!” and returns to me – “now it’s chasing my husband around the yard!”

Four suddenly recalls what Five is suggesting. Uh-oh! New Providence High School biology teacher (and swim club coach) Henry (another “Hank”) Buntin talked about snakes – remember the hognose? – playing “possum” to repel danger.

Five picks up. Once the predator leaves the area, the “dead” reptile pulls its tongue back in, closes its mouth, springs to life, and goes on its merry way, fanging mice and Blackwells.

“That must be what’s happening now,” I say, contemplatively. “Big Orange stopped playing dead because it feels safe.”

And you are not, warns One, hearing the steady stream of mouthpiece mutterings. Wisely, we hang up. I try to explain the situation to Leah, but she just shakes her head.

The next day I hear rumors that Hank has learned the species I draped across my shoulders is one of Florida’s top five wildlife dangers. Incredibly aggressive when disturbed, he – the snake, not Hank – goes postal, a legless Terminator hunting down its victims.

Intrigued by what Hank may know of the monster, I call his home. No answer. I e-mail. No reply. I snail-mail a letter. “Return to sender” is stamped upon the envelope the postman brings back. Being a quick study, I take his lack of response as a signal he may be unhappy.

Tough to accidentally lose a friendship, admits Six. But you did it with orange – classy! Now he’ll never forget you.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 6.52.03 PM

Postscript – We lost another great musician this week in the passing of Phil Everly. He, along with his brother, Don, formed the legendary and long-popular Everly Brothers, a long string of hits to their credit.

I am thrilled Don even realizes he has an older brother. This is much different from the situation in the Blackwell household. My twin sister, Dianne (lately known as DiAnnie Oakley for her sharpshooting comments), forgets she has a slightly younger brother.

No lie? asks Two, stunned. She literally does not acknowledge YOUR portion of the birthday? How do such unspeakables happen?

I write her on OUR special day about a humorous card sent by my sister-in-law Sharon. The day after the worldwide celebration of our birthday, Dianne lamely writes:

I was showing your note to the girls and we were laughing. Then we started talking and then we left the house and then…

AND I NEVER WROTE BACK AND SAID HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!  I SWEAR MY MIND IS GONE! [My kids would swear THAT happened 10 years ago! 🙂 ]

Apparently, comments Four, your twin’s not the brightest bulb in the box.

“No worries. I made sure Dianne caught MY birthday this year, and early.”

Smart move, chirps One, you sending her that text before she even woke up.

* * * * *

We may hunt this way if much more snow falls!

This recycling is “instrumental” in young lives