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!]
On this warm spring day, Thor [aka Ted], my sixth-grade brother, and I, his 8th-grade elder, do the usual: Saddle up our trusty bicycles and pedal 10 miles out to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Smoking Tiparillo cigars on the way, confesses Screen Two.
“Is it really necessary to chime in with all the wrong things we did?”
Well, it was yet another element of your misspent youth.
We hop off our bikes, stroll into the woods, and hit “hunter” mode, senses on high alert for developing danger.
Or a way to stir it up the few times it cannot find you, says Six.
Just ahead, several people stare downward and marvel aloud at a sight not yet seen by our own eyes. This, I think, is a job for two athletic, fearless and sharp-minded Blackwells.
Your older brothers didn’t come, reminds One.
In feigned authoritative voices – Thor’s impressively deepened by early puberty; mine, awaiting The Life Change and higher than most bat frequencies – we introduce ourselves, then step inside the circle of onlookers. From a small hole in the ground by our feet, snakes – tiny, fast, and coming in such numbers we cannot count them – wriggle to the sun-warmed surface.
Thor and I exchange looks. You know what heroic thing must next happen, prods Six.
Swooping, stooping, scooping rushing reptiles so fast that I have four slinky bodies captured before tongues flick twice, I look up, hoping to see female faces grateful for my rescue efforts.
Does he have more screens than you do? six screens ask me while admiring him.
My gracious brother does not rub this feat in my face. He leans over and says without pomp, “Hold these, will ya? More comin’.”
The Magic Moment occurs right then –
The Life Change waits a year, regrets Four.
– as I see him gently lift the tiny reptiles for us to view and release. Here, now, I make Mighty Thor lifetime snake-hunting sibling, the one I want at my side when I suffer the ever-tightening coils of artery-attacking anacondas, pulse-popping pythons and bone-breaking boas.
Our alliance is strong. Every snake chomp heightens brotherly respect.
Some for the snakes might be good, hints One.
Battle scars and the tales accompanying them grow. We even develop gear for catching the legless wonders, unaware the world created better models 2,000 years earlier.
My device [shown at right – NOT] is a long stick, fishing line running through multiple eyescrews. The premise: snake’s head enters the loop formed by the five-pound test line. I’ll tighten and haul up another prize, my hands a safe distance from the gigantic fangs of such predators as garters and racers.
Neither is known for its bite, corrects Five, but I’m not listening.
An unforeseen difficulty arises.
Common “ADHD meets reality” collision, says One.
“Thor, the snakes won’t put their heads in the loop.”
“Hmm,” murmurs my brother, who then lays out a plan to use the defective device for capturing a black swamp snake I wouldn’t hunt with a bazooka. Thor knows the fellow’s habit of sunning in the reeds beside our stickball field. He studied its patterns “a long time” –
Ten minutes a day. Two days, clarifies Five.
– so he’s certain we’ll find the snake drowsy and careless.
“Remember, Thor, my snake stick doesn’t work too well. What have you got?”
Beaming, he hoists his rip-riddled fishing net. We glance at each device, turn and slap hands in delight. We’re ready.
The snake is – surprise! – right where Thor says it will be. Apparently, Death does not run from ADDers but, quivering in anticipation, beckons us closer.
Death sounds seductive, laughs Three.
Family column! blushes Two.
We lean over the snake, which sleeps unusually deep in the reeds. No noose around that nose!
One snake, two humans, Three says. Simple. Step into the swamp and grab him by hand.
We look at our bare feet and unprotected legs.
Nothing to get Mom-maddening muddy, coaxes Four. You’ve talked your friend Alex into being ready with the fish net. I’d say you’re all set!
Thor’s slow-and-under-the-breath count bursts into “Now!” Explosive snake motion is matched by two brothers jumping in the swamp and sinking to knees in sucking muck.
Jersey’s version of African quicksand? ponders Five.
I’m flailing wildly in this modern-day LaBrea tar pit. Clever Thor, legs immobilized, flops onto his belly and snags the fast-disappearing escapee by the tail. “Grab!” he shouts desperately. I do and clamp a thick, writhing mass of muscle.
Say, remarks Two, he looks unhappy at having his snaky siesta ceased.
“Snake stick! Loop loop loop him!” Thor yells, then sees I’ve left that several feet from us on dry land. His eyes widen. “Throwww! Throwthrowthrow!”
Whump! signals the heavy snake’s heavier landing in our stickball’s right-field section, empty of players.
“We did it!” exults Thor, putting hands out for the fishing net we’ll drop over the prize. But friend Alex, designated net-holder, uses it to chase tiny toads in the distance.
We hear the hiss and realize the snake swiftly glides toward we two who block its return to Wild America. I struggle to free myself of the gripping swamp, fearing my high-voiced squeaks make me sound like helpless dinner. Thor, already up on dry land, quickly steps to the side.
The snake follows my brother. “Wow,” I utter in relief. “It’s hunting you.”
The black giant whips back to me. I dig hands into dirt and claw my way out. Two Blackwell boys traveling opposite directions run like cattle in lightning. Swamp snake slips safely into marsh mess.
We breathe heavily for several long moments. I wearily, warily bend to pick up the unused looping tool and hear Thor say to no one in particular, “There’s another. I know where.”
I straighten in disbelief. “Seriously?”
Cheers Six, What do we need?
Postscript: As an adult, I meet Jay Brewer, fellow ADHD possessor and owner of Prehistoric Pets. Because he buys, sells and trades nightmarish creatures, he makes a safety rule: “Nobody deals with big snakes alone. There has to be another trained person in the store.”
But one day, while Jay’s employee is out making a bank deposit, Jay decides to …
“Throw a dead rabbit to the old, slow-moving, 21-foot anaconda we’re shipping cross-country. As I open the door to his roomy pen – he’s at the very back – the phone rings. I lean the rabbit against my pelvis and answer. Instantly the door bangs against the cage. I feel – ohh, do I feel – snake teeth miss the targeted rabbit and bury themselves in my groin.”
The “old” snake covered the distance in a single strike.
“Huge recursive fangs sinking into that, um, particular place … beyond description. I lose the phone. My breath. And all muscle control. Then that snake starts wrapping around me. I can’t stop him. He ‘hunted,’ got his prey and is going to eat it – me – in my own store.”
Jay’s trained helper returns and rescues – barely – his boss after a primordial battle. Giant serpent caged once more, the shaken employee breathlessly wags a quivering finger at his boss. “N-nobody … nobody alone with big snakes, Jay. Wasn’t that your rule?”
ADHD. Where rules are meant to be broken and Death is – well, seductive.
* * * * *
Guess I should have paid attention …
Swimming with 26-foot anaconda
Thanks, Rodolpho … now get ‘er off me!
No snakes, but SuperCat saves child from attacking dog!