When I was a little boy, about 11 or 12 years old, I went to a school that was a couple of miles from the housing area we lived in. Between the school and the housing area there were several big hills and no roads. Most of the time I would ride the school bus to and from school. But sometimes, when the weather was good and I had plenty of time, some of my friends and I would walk over the hills to get home.
One time we walked and when we got to the top of the last hill we could see all the houses below us where we lived. One of my friends challenged us all to a race, down the hill, across the cow pasture, and into the housing area.
Now I was never a very fast runner. Usually I would come in last in any race, but I decided I would do my best no matter what. So I hitched up my school books under my arm and took off running downhill as fast as I could.
It was all I could do to keep from falling down because the faster I ran the harder it was for my feet to keep up with my body. I would stretch out my legs as far as they would go and keep looking ahead to make sure my feet would land in just the right place. Every little mound of dirt became a launching pad that I would step on and from which I would jump as high and as far as I could.
In this way, for the first time, I found myself actually beating the other boys in the race. Boy was I happy about that. I had just a dozen or more long strides to make and I would win! I looked ahead and there was one more dirt mound that I could use to spring from and dash into the housing area.
As my left foot stepped on the top of the dirt mound I glanced down at my feet and there, coiled up just on the other side of the mound, was a very big and very black snake. With just a glance I couldn’t tell what kind of snake it was, but my right foot suddenly came to a stop beside my left foot. The problem was my body didn’t stop at all.
My books went flying out of my hand as I reached to catch myself as I fell across that snake. My hands stopped my body, my feet didn’t move, and that snake was curled up right under my belly. With a loud yell I pushed with all my might and sprang forward from over that snake and just sat there with my heart racing.
It turned out that the snake was a harmless king snake, even though it was about 6 feet long. After I calmed down, we captured the snake and played with it for awhile then let it go.
Oh, yes. I still won the race, because all my friends had stopped to see the snake too.