There were no two ways about it –– you could tell people by how they react to the reptiles, he thought, gazing at the crowd on the other side of the block wall. People were crazy about snakes or they didn't really care.
If not full of hate and fear for them, the emotional ones adored Our Scaly Pals and went on about how wonderful they were, eating vermin and keeping Nature's precious balance, all that happy-slappy crap.
The others were comfortable knowing nothing, standing around after the show, saying things like, "Oh, are snakes reptiles? Huh."
He understood that. Hell, he couldn't give less of a crap about a lot of stuff. Re-baloting, stem-cell research, modern art, that shit didn't mean jack to him. He was a reptile guy. Was going to keep doing this gator-wrestling, snake-handling gig for the rest of his life. Unless the old place collapsed around him.
He tapped a finger against the wooden handle of his hook, touching wood as the anxiety pinched at his guts. He didn't like thinking about the future. Too much to worry about. Enough to pay attention to right now.
There were no two ways about it...she was not going to walk this footpath again. She wasn't going to skinny-dip in the deep black water of the lake. Wasn't going to hop onto her bike and pedal forty-five miles on a whim, forgetting the sun-block and then guzzling sweet tea straight from the heavy glass pitcher in her gram's cool, dark kitchen before turning her bike around and rolling back home.
The second opinion, this one sporting a rugby shirt under his white coat, as if he'd just scrambled off the pitch, was just as awful as the first. The same absolutes –– the same phrases even –– and no other possible diagnosis. A second opinion, handsome as he was, made it a truth.
There were no two ways about it...he might have tried again, but he had never been one for sticktoitivity. He wasn't cut out for the job. He knew that. He was good at starting, not so hot at finishing. A string of unconnected jobs, a smattering of half-baked skills. If he didn't know what made him unhappy about his own history, he was also pretty decent at maintaining a cheerful front.
"Eyes front," his mom used to say. "Eyes front," and "Tomorrow is another day."