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Crawlin' king snake
Short story

November 12, 2003
The Iranian

Well I'm a crawlin' king snake, and I rules my den...

The alarm clock had tripped the CD player on and the gritty voice of John Lee Hooker broke the morning silence.

I sat up at the edge of the bed and looked at my image in the dresser mirror. My reflection looked old and all puffed up, dark pockets under the eyes, deep marionette lines running along the face, dark, chapped lips, and my hair; greasy and all over the place.

I looked like a mess.

I put on my glasses and reached for the roach on the nightstand.

The sweet aroma of cannabis started to slowly mask the mustiness of the bedroom.

I felt dizzy as I stood up, so I sat on the bed again and took more drags out of the waning joint.

Why was I up so early this bloody Saturday morning? Then I remembered. I had to go to my daughter's cheerleading competition in some stadium somewhere.

I really didn't want to go. Not because I wasn't interested, or I didn't love my daughter enough. No, none of that. I dreaded it because I'd see my ex with her husband and their kids over there. That, I didn't care for.

Hooker was still going at it.

Don't want you 'round my mate,
wanna use her for myself...

The stadium was crowded, noisy, and smelled of human flesh. Pretty little girls in their colorful outfits were shouting inaudible cheers and the judges were observing their every little moves.

My ex spotted me and waved me over. I nodded hello and took a seat next to my son who hugged me and put his head on my shoulder. He had a big smile on his face.

I was too stoned to feel any emotions but I know I was acting uneasy. I would nervously turn my head and look at my ex. She looked beautiful and so much in control. With a brand new baby in her arms, she looked like a goddess. Her husband and their son were sitting behind her and they all looked like a good happy family together, with my son and I; sitting there like outcasts.

It was finally my daughter's turn. Her team took the floor and they started doing their program. She looked so little and so helpless from the stands. I stood up and shouted her name. She noticed me and smiled. Then she did the best cartwheel she'd ever done. I thought that was for me.

They came in third, but that was just fine.

On the way back, I rolled up another joint and stuck the John Lee Hooker CD in the player and drove on.

Well I'm a crawlin' king snake and I rules my den
Come on and give me what I want baby
And I won't crawl no more

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By Shahriar Zahedi




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