Calm Down
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A Calm Down Audio Story: My First Murder

A Calm Down Audio Story: My First Murder

(It wasn't a human. Relax.)

Hello friends,

This is a humorous story about something from my childhood. I could have published it as text but I wanted an excuse to play with Substack’s audio feature and to see if I was smart enough to add intro/outro music. I think I did it ok? Maybe not.

They say the best way to learn is to do, so here you go.

I do some accents in it lol.




Update: if you would rather read this, here is the “script,” but warning: it is not grammatical! I wrote it for ears, not for eyes!

I got me a sister. Her name is emily. I love her from here to there but this is a story about a thing she done once when we was young which was a very not nice thing to do.

We gotta go back to the early 90s. I was six or seven and she was eight or nine. Don’t matter exactly how old we were; was was children.

We moved to Idaho because our momma divorced our poppa and fell in love with this hick surgeon she done met when he took out my tonsils one christmas when we’s was visitin’ for the holidays.

And we lived in this big white house that was big only cause it was tall. Aint a wide house, but a tall house. And it was on the bank of a river. Bigwood River they call it here. Lot of grass around the house, some of it long. One day my sister she done been playin’ out there in the long grass and she found herself a snake. A garter snake. Aint got poison, aint got teeth, or maybe it has teeth but they not sharp. This is not a scary snake for adults who know of snakes and their danger.

She gets this snake and puts in a terrarium and brings it to her room on the top floor of this tall house. I lived underneath that room on the second floor and I was quite upset. You see I have what the doctors might call a fear of snakes. I had this fear since as far back as I remember.

You see one day me and my daddy we was in our house in Los Angeles and we was watching a movie on the TV and there was a snake in it and he looked at me and I must have been three or four and he said, “ben, heres what you need to know about snakes. They look slow because they have no legs, but they’re fast! You see a snake, run!” And I listened to my daddy and I got me afraid of snakes. One time we was at the Mulholland Tennis Club, my sister and me, and we were in the playroom for another child’s birthday and as part of that birthday a animal trainer had come to show us the animals. And one of those animals was a massive 20 ft long snake that the trainer placed on everyone’s laps. I refused that. No snake going on my lap, but I was pressured by my peers to touch the touch the snake’s skin and I tell you as sure as I am standing here when I touched that snake, it turned its head and looked at me from across the room and stared with its dead eyes saying, “i hate you and I would eat you if no one else was around.”

I got up and I ran. Many people might tell you if they was subpoenaed here today that I hallucinated that part but I stick by my story and it;’s a he said-snake said.

There another movie I seen back in these old times in Los Angeles and it was called Black Beauty. In that movie this boy is on a ship and then the ship sinks and he wakes up alone on a beach and there is this cobra snake and it is about to kill this boy but then out of the blue comes Black Beauty, a beautiful horse the child had met on the ship when the horse was in bondage being brought to some farm somewhere; they had shared a moment, you see. Now black beauty she comes out of nowhere on this beach because she survived the wreck too and she stomps that cobra to death, cementing her eternal friendship with the boy.

So me I thinking, I need a horse, but I aint old enough to own a horse because I just yay high but anyways, this is a background for the events of one summer day in a very tall house which rested on the abnk of a very small river which the locals in Sun Valley Idaho nevertheless call the Big Wood.

She done brought in that snake from the long grass in a terrarium into her room, and I cried and bitched and begged for her to get rid of it. She said no. It was her snake. Her new pet. I wished and hoped for a horse to come and trample her and her vicious snake to death but the horse did not come and probably couldn’t have fit through the doorway of the house anyway as it was not a wide house. So I tried to go above her head and called my poppa and told him the story and he was sympathetic but removed, told me I had to talk to my mother, and my mother, well, she was at the time under the mind-controlling influence of this hick idiot surgeon who thought I needed some exposure therapy and should be forced to live with the snake.

My options had been limited by these monsters. I began to have nightmares of the snake escaping from its cage, slithering down the stairs, pushing open the door to my room, somehow crawling into my bed and then going into my butthole. Butthole penetration aint something I was, at the tender age of 6 or 7, ready to think about—indeed, thirty years later I am still not ready to consider that—so I was quite frightened and touched by the presence of the snake.

One day maybe a week or two into this my sister left the house to go play silly time with her friends, like women do, and I was mostly alone. I imagine there was an adult somewhere in the house but not near me. So I was lookin at the stairs up to her room and I thought “up there is my enemy, the snake.” I got weak in these knees and considered running down to the living room to cower in fear as I had done too many times before. But on this day, no. I would stand up for myself. There was no horse coming to my rescue. I would have to be my own Black Beauty.

So I done gone down the stairs and out the door and into the long grass myself and grabbed the biggest rock I could find, trotted back up into the house and then further into her room. I beheld the slithering vile creature in his habitat, the terrarium. I girded myself and thought of Black Beauty and then bludgeoned the snake to death with the rock.

It did not put up a fight. It had no chance. One strong smash of the rock spread what little brains it had all over the terrarium’s floor.

I felt a surge relief as though I had unburdened myself of some great, well, burden. I’d taken agency in my own existence. I was my own savior. I dropped the blooded rock in the terrarium and breathed a sigh of relief as rewarding as the most relieving sighs of the ages.

But then my soothed soul was taken unexpectedly by surprise. By what I did not at first know but soon it became apparent to me it was anxiety, that terrible devil lurking in all of us, second guessing our behavior.

Was I about to get in trouble for this thing I had done? This murder? It was righteous I believed and continue to believe but would a judge see it that way? Or perhaps more importantly, would my mother?

I knew what must be done. I picked up that terrarium and lugged it down the stairs and to the river, which they call the Big Wood, and emptied it out into the cleansing waters. The evil snake’s corpse and the evidence of both my guilt and my power floated away. I rinsed the glass box and brought it back up and put it back in her room.

I then went back to my own room and played with my toys, as one does., like nothing wrong in the whole world, no a leaf askew, not a thread of grass broken.

Then my sister she come back sometime later and she shouts

“where is my snake?”

All the adults they say they don’t know and eventually she come to me and says

“what you do to my snake”

and I says to her “what are you talking about? I don’t know. I haven’t been in your room because I’m too afraid to even go near your evil snake.”

“Oh really?”

“yeah really.”

“Well it’s not there anymire.”

“Maybe it broke out. I did warn you that could happen!”

And she fucking stared at me with her knowing female eyes.

“Tell me.”

And I looked back at her with my one male eye and my ungendered glass eye and said “i swear I have no idea.”

I said the the same thing to my momma! And she turned a frowning face to my sister and said , “you said it wouldn’t escape! You better find it!”

And she had to look high and low and as you have guessed she turned up no evidence of the snake.

About ten years later I told her when we were teens, I said, “i killed the snake” and she said “i knew that” and I said “i knew you knew that but you couldn’t prove it”

And one of her friends was sitting there and they said “you killed her pet snake? That’s awful! What’s wrong with you?!?”

And before I could launch into the exact spiel, I have just subjected you to, my dear sister interrupted and said, “To be honest it was my fault. I never should have brought that snake into the house. I knew he hated it and I was just bullying him.”

And I nodded and she nodded and we both said with our nods, “friends. Friends forever.”

And when you think back on these events you see that it’s a coming of story for two people. One is my sister who came of age and admitted that it was a mean cruel thing to do to bring that snake into our house. And two it was coming of age for me because it was the day I became a man and realized I had to be my own black beauty. And guess what?

I’d fuckin’ do it again too!

Calm Down
Calm Down
The antidote to internet poisoning. Hosted by Ben Dreyfuss, Calm Down is a podcast about our internet politics nightmare...and how to fix it.