"Aw crap!" I heard Steve say as he shut off the mower.
"What?" I said, thinking he hit something hard and banged up the blade.
"I think I just hit Gus with the mower," he answered.
"Oh no!" says I, running over to where Steve was looking intently at the grass.
I was just thinking yesterday that we should be seeing Gus soon because the weather turned pretty warm. It was in the upper seventies and today was supposed to be as high as eighty. But unfortunately, the mower found Gus first.
There lay our hapless garter snake, all in one piece, but definitely injured. He wasn't moving, and his head appeared to be tucked under his body, so we couldn't even see how bad that was. I was completely bummed. Gus and I have been coexisting peacefully for a couple of years now. We'd startle each other periodically; an involuntary screech would well out of the limbic recesses of my brain and carry me off a couple of feet; Gus would slither silently in the opposite direction. Then after my fluttering heart settled downed somewhat, I'd return to that part of the yard where'd I been working, mindful now that I could run into him again and to not freak out when I did.
I liked having a garter snake in the yard because they're good for getting rid of bugs and whatnot, and it's really too bad we lost him because he was just getting big enough to start eating moles and voles.
"Do you think he could be rehabilitated?" I asked.
"No. I guess we'd better put him out of his misery." With this, the tail end of Gus starting whipping back and forth, and I realized that he was awake again and probably suffering. I hurried to the garage and came back with both shovels.
Which one do you think I should use?" said Steve.
"Whichever you think will do it fastest," I replied. "That's why I brought them both." We both knew I was not up to this task.
He quickly chose the contractor's shovel with the flat edge and dealt Gus several quick blows, chopping him neatly up. I wanted to cry but I didn't, because I was completely bummed about losing my snake. We decided to leave him where he lay, to return to the earth eventually.
Rest in peace, Gus.