It was a dark and rainy evening. Cobblestones on the damp street glistened like freshly unearthed diamonds.
I was told to meet someone at a restaurant for a late dinner. Stepping out of the cab, I spotted her. Dressed in a long trench coat revealing tufts of blonde shoulder-length curls, she took the final drag from her cigarette. She greeted me. We were seated outside for the rain had subsided.
The importance of my presence was discussed, although I did not yet understand why I had been summoned on such short notice. The details were to remain confidential. She asked me if I could trust her.
My gut went into knots and an overwhelming nausea surfaced.
The truth was that I didn’t trust her. What was her name again? Had she even told me?
I sat in silence as her stare burned through my skin. Changing the subject, she said she would order for me — the “most exquisite” item on the menu.
I nodded, in part because I couldn’t even read the menu. Where was I, anyway?
In a split second, our entrées hit the table. An elegant and colorful pasta dish was placed before her.
I then looked down to acquaint myself with my presumed “delicacy.”
About a foot high, with a stench of something long ago deceased, my eyes met a sallow gray snake coiled ornately onto my plate. Its eyes aimed directly at my stomach commencing a long spiral to the top of the dish where the rattle was decoratively displayed.
My fear of snakes must have shown. She gave me a coy smile. She already knew.
I cut into this foul snake pyramid like it was a pile of spaghetti.
“Try me,” I thought.
The rubber texture of the rotten creature I consumed triggered my gag reflex each time I swallowed. But one clean plate later and licking the knife for show, I sat unfazed and proud — as though I had just passed Phase One of some bizarre initiation.
“Let’s go,” she said.
I woke up dripping in sweat. I have no idea where we went off to, or why.
All I can recall, even as I sit here and detail this dream once more, is the undeniable sense of unease, distrust, and the nature in which the thick bites of rancid snake went down my throat.
Have people fed you lies before? Of course they have. Everyone is forced to swallow a snake from time to time. Why, however, do we do it?
Is it because it is easier? A way to get ahead or arrive somewhere we think we “need” to be?
Or is it simply out of fear? The fear of discomfort in having to discuss the truth?
In case you were wondering, ingesting snakes poisons you — especially when they come with rattles.