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by Jane Toombs
Description: A haunting tale that will make your skin crawl of totally different religions and a boy torn between the two of them. Things aren't always as they appear to be.
eBook Publisher: DiskUs Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: October 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [62 KB]
Reading time: 27-38 min.
"...as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so...."
Thirteen-year-old Danny Martin listened not so much to the Biblical words as he did to the deep, melodious voice of Preacher Jeremiah Martin. He idolized his father, would do most anything for him. Hadn't he already memorized practically the whole, entire Bible just to please him?
The part about the serpent in the wilderness came from the Book of John, third chapter, fourteenth and fifteenth verses. Every time he heard them, Danny thought of Sata, his mother's pet rattlesnake, so tame that even his father, who didn't like snakes very much, could handle it without getting bit. Which he sometimes did for revival meetings.
Mom said Sata listened when she whispered to her and sometimes whispered back. Father called Sata it, but Danny and his mother shared a secret--the rattler was a girl snake. You couldn't tell from the outside, so Sata must have whispered it to his mother.
His father believed the name Sata was short for Satan, but Danny knew better. Sata was the name of the Egyptian god-snake. It was another one of the secrets he shared with his mother, along with the chant:
I am the serpent Sata whose years are many
I die and I am born again...
And I grow young, not old...
His mother had assured him God didn't think it was a sin if you knew about other religions. They'd just not mention such things to his father, who did mind. Sometimes it was hard to keep what his mother told him apart from his father's Biblical admonitions but he believed them both, so he managed to do it.
Danny had overheard people say his mother was a strange one, but he loved her exactly the way she was. And he loved Sata, too. The diamond markings of her scales were truly beautiful and her yellow eyes looked so wise he could understand why the ancient Egyptians had believed in a god-snake.
He thought maybe Sata loved him, too. Having her for a friend made up for the way some of the kids at school treated him--especially one of them. The Bible said you had to love your enemy, but Danny figured Jesus had never met any kid as mean as Jerk-off Mobey. He purely hated him.
His mother once told him that her Grandfather Hoskins had been a snake before he got born as a man. Awesome! It had to be true 'cause his mother never lied to him
If I was a rattler, you better believe I'd fix ole Jerk-off...
Hearing his father say his name, Danny switched his attention back to here and now.
"...my son," his father went on, "is, as you may know named after the Biblical Daniel, God's interpreter of dreams. He will now share with you verses from the Book of Daniel."
Danny rose and made his way to the pulpit, not minding how people stared. He was proud and happy to do what his father asked. He dreamed one day of following in Preacher Jeremiah Martin's footsteps, even though he knew he really hadn't been named after Daniel.
His mother had named him Danny after the loa Dahn because, in the voodoo religion, Dahn was a horned and coiled snake who brought good fortune. She said Danny was the best fortune she'd ever had. But that was another of their secrets.
He recited the Bible verses without a single mistake, earning a nod of approval from his father when the services ended.
"I trust your mother will have a good hot lunch waiting upstairs for us," his father said after he'd spoken to and shaken hands with his parishioners. "Of course, Selina should have been here worshipping with us, but the sin is upon her head, not ours."
There was no hot lunch waiting in their apartment over the worship hall. No Selina either and the car was gone. Danny braced for the wrath he knew would be forthcoming from his father. Jeremiah had hardly hit his stride, though, when someone rapped at the door.
Danny opened it and stared at the uniformed officer who stood on the landing. "May I come in?" the policeman said. The somber tone of his voice struck a needle of fear into Danny's heart as he stood aside for the man to enter.
"You're Jeremiah Martin?" the officer asked, looking at Danny's father.
"I am, sir." Danny saw a muscle twitch in his father's cheek as he spoke, something that rarely happened. It scared him even more 'cause he knew it meant his father was truly upset, not just annoyed enough to rant.
"Your wife is Selina Martin?" At Jeremiah's brief nod, the policeman said, "I have some bad news. Your wife was involved in a serious auto accident about an hour ago."
Danny all but stopped breathing.
"I'm sorry to tell you that she was killed instantly."
In her cage, Sata's tail rattled and she began to coil. The policeman glanced at her and took a step backward, even though he was not within striking distance. Besides, the cage was lined with mesh so Sata couldn't have hurt him if she'd tried. Danny was sure she knew what had happened. At the same time the terrible truth in the officer's words struck home to him.
His mother was dead.