- Once Bitten -

"Steve?"

"What?"

"Steve, don't move."

"What?"

"Don't mo-"

"Ouch! What was that?"

"I told you not to move. Now look at this mess."

"Jesse, I asked you what that was."

"Steve, don't put your hand there, don't -"

"Hey, keep your hands off me!"

"Just wanted to prevent you from giving that snake another chance to bite you."

"Snake? What snake?"

"The one which bit you a few seconds ago."

"What?"

"Steve, I'm serious. Don't move, it's still there."

"In my sleeping bag?"

"Somewhere inside there, yes."

"And you saw it creep in there?"

"Yes."

"And why the heck didn't you warn me?"

"Hey, I tried!"

"Okay, calm down."

"I am calm, Steve."

"I was talking to myself, Jess."

"Oh. Okay."

"So you say it's still in there?"

"I didn't see it creep out again."

"It's dark, Jesse. Why do you think you'd see it creep out?"

"I saw it creep in, remember?"

"Why are you watching my sleeping bag anyway?"

"I couldn't sleep. There's a rock sticking out of the ground right under my back."

"Okay, and now there are some snake teeth sticking in my leg. By the way - could you see if it was a poisonous one?"

"Uh, Steve, do you think it would have bitten you just for fun?"

"Okay, okay. Now Mr. ER Surgeon - what are your suggestions?"

"No matter what snake it was, we have to hinder the poison from spreading in your body."

"Which means you have to work on my leg."

"Yes."

"Which is still in the sleeping bag."

"Yes."

"Together with the snake."

"Uh - yes."

"Well, Jesse. I suggest you try to get that snake out of my sleeping bag now. And I especially suggest you don't make it bite me again."

"I wouldn't worry too much about that. Usually, snakes empty their poison glands with one bite, and most of them are harmless for a few minutes then."

"Thanks a lot, Jess. Good to hear that it emptied its whole supply of poison in my foot and now can't do me any harm."

"You're wel . . .- that was sarcastic, wasn't it?"

"-"

"Okay, don't look at me like this. Now let me open that sleeping bag, okay?"

"Yeah, but be careful."

"Don't worry." *zip* "See, here we go. Which foot was it?"

"The left one."

"Oh great. Now I'll have to make my way all over to the other side."

"And *you* find that unpleasant? Ask me!"

"Yeah okay. Calm down, Steve."

"I *am* calm!"

"Weren't you the one who told himself to stay calm only a few seconds ago?"

"Jesse, you - ah, forget it. Just look for that snake and cut its head off or something."

"What?"

"I said start working now!"

"Okay, okay. Calm down."

"I *am* - oh, shut up. Just get started and - hey, what are you doing there?"

"Looking for the snake."

"That's definitely the wrong place, Jess."

"Oh. Sorry. Hey wait, I think I saw something. I just have to - get - a - little - bit - deeper -"

"Jesse!"

"Hey, if oo ngow angover way -"

"What? Jesse, I can't understand you with your head between my feet."

"Gasp, I should have known it were your feet. Say, in the three days we've been out here in the woods, have you washed them at least once?"

"Of course I have! - Well, maybe not tonight, but I was going to wash them tomorrow. Ah, why am I telling you this? Did you find the snake?"

"No. But if snakes have a sense of smell, it's probably dead anyway."

"Ha-ha."

"Uh, Steve? Don't we have a flashlight somewhere?"

"Yeah, sure. Why?"

"-"

"Okay, I see. Wait a minute. Oh yes, here it is."

"Aah, I'm blind!"

„Sorry."

„Steve, your grin is so bright it glows in the dark."

"Sorry, couldn't resist."

"I bet. Okay, if you want to fool around, I have all night."

"Okay, okay. Here you are."

"Thanks, Steve."

"Uh, Jesse?"

"Yes?"

"How do I notice that the poison takes effect?"

"Depends on the snake. The foot should swell, it starts pounding and feels hot. Your heart starts racing, or slowing down, depending -"

"On the snake, yes. Got it. Now that you have the flashlight, could you please get this animal out of my sleeping bag?"

"Working on it."

"Thanks."

"-"

"Jesse?"

"-"

"Jess, what are you doing?"

"Steve, I don't know if this is good news or bad news, but -"

"No snake?"

"No snake."

"It must be somewhere in the tent then."

"I don't think so."

"What?"

"I said I don't think so, Steve."

"Why? Was that what you were doing all the time? You caught the snake and ate it?"

"No, I mean there is no snake."

"What? No snake? What do you mean, Jesse?"

"There's no snake in the tent."

"You said it crept into my sleeping bag. *And* it bit me in the foot. So how can you tell me there is no snake in here?"

"Because there is no snake, Steve."

"Okay, let's put it simple so that even you understand it: If there is no snake in the tent, what the heck crept into my sleeping bag and pierced my foot with its teeth?"

"I - I don't know if you really want to hear that."

"Jesse, rest assured that I do want to hear it."

"Okay. I'll show you."

"I'd appreciate that."

"-"

"WHAT?"

"Hey Steve, you wanted to see it."

"And *how*, if you allow me the question, did *this* get into my sleeping bag?"

"I don't know."

"Oh, I believe you do. After all, you had it last."

"Really, I don't - oh."

"Ah, memory returning?"

"I think after we had grilled the fish tonight -"

"- and you were supposed to do the dishes -"

"- I bowed over your sleeping bag -"

"And?"

"The barbeque fork must have dropped."

"Into my sleeping bag."

"Yes."

"Jess, couldn't you have thought of this earlier?"

"I really thought it was a snake, Steve."

"Which you saw creeping into my sleeping bag."

"Hey, there was something. Really. I mean - it *looked* like there was something."

"And you don't think it has to do with the lightning? You know, the lightning that accompanies the thunderstorm outside? The lightning that causes flickering shadows in here? This kind of lightning?"

"Uh, I -"

"Get out before I stab you with that stupid barbeque fork!"

"Steve, it's raining!"

"I know. This sometimes happens when there is a thunderstorm. Now get out of the tent unless you want to know what it feels like being pierced by this stupid thing. Nothing like a barbeque fork prick to have a really great night."

"Steve, please. You can't be serious about this - ouch!"

"Can you feel that I'm serious?"

"You're so mean. I'll tell Mark what you're doing to me."

"Ooh, I'm shivering."

"May I at least take my sleeping bag with me?"

"Yeah, and the rock below, too."

"And I don't even have my shoes."

"What are you mumbling?"

"Oh, nothing. I'll take my sleeping bag now and go out into the rain and cold, maybe catch a little pneumonia, to make our short hike a memorable event."

"Fine, and I'll maybe even get some sleep tonight."

"Oh, I'm sure you will, but I'm not so certain about - ouch! Hey, I told you I'm going, so why do you keep on stabbing me with that fork?"

"Jesse, I didn't stab you. My arms aren't long enough to reach you over there, just in case you haven't noticed."

"You - didn't? But what - I mean, if it wasn't you, what -?"

"Jess, don't move!"

"What?"

"Don't move!"

"What is it, Steve?"

"I hate to tell you this, but I'm afraid we do have a snake in here."

"But how - I mean, the fork -"

"The fork stuck in my foot. But that little thing right beside your right foot does look like a snake."

"Hey, don't you point the flashlight at it, you're making it aggressive."

"Oh, don't worry. You know, somebody told me that they usually empty their poison glands with one bite. It'll be harmless for the next few minutes."

"Steve, sometimes I hate you."

"Take it easy. Okay now, what am I supposed to do? I believe I have to cut the bite open to get the poison out, right?"

"Steve, put that knife away. I can do that myself!"

"We're not exactly in central LA, Jess, and if you want me to carry you all the way to the car, you'll now let me have a look at this."

"Okay, but you're not going to use that knife."

"-"

"Steve, what are you doing there? Steve!"