The Scorpion Tale

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At this time in 1978, just two years in advance of what will be the hottest summer on record, I was in the hospital, laboring for my first child.  I had spent the last several nights walking the streets with Silent Bob (who had not yet been promoted to “Silent’ as I was still certain he was hiding the ‘I-really-want-endless-conversations-with-you’ Bob). 

Jake was ‘late’ in gestational terms and walking in the nighttime Houston heat seemed like a way to promote his appearance. You know, gravity. And sweat. I had not yet gone to school for the career I would end up having, I didn’t have other children, and both SB’s and my parents eagerly awaited this grandchild. In other words life was very different than now.

On all those nights I strode the roads in front of my little house north of IAH in my flip-flops (yes, for those that know me). Visible in the streetlights, were the occasional scorpions, their shadows trailing after them as they ran under and out of the light. With their crunchy looking exoskeletons, they ran with their venomous tail arched over their backs. 

“I almost stepped on that one”, I said to SB. 

I can’t record his answer. I don’t think there was one. 

(Today that thought makes me smile.)

The scorpions were, well frightening, in the way that all things that you know that have venom are.  We’d had black widows and brown recluses in Arkansas but I never remembered seeing a scorpion. They necessiated a different kind of avoidance strategy. Somehow the idea of that lethal looking barb, high in the air as it was, seemed especially functional. Even if I stepped on it, I figured it could still inject. And would. 

I don’t think science knows even today how much is imprinted on little humans who have yet to crown and enter this world, but I swear those nighttime walks and my thoughts imprinted my Jake. Somehow  the brain chemicals that translated those moments into compounds, neural connections, and memories that I can recall forty five years later, made their way to him. Because, Jake HATED scorpions. 


“Jan,” he said, “I want you to come see the house James and I moved into.

It was the summer of 2001 and both of them were off campus fifth year seniors. 

“It’s in Snook. We are getting it cheap because we need to fix it up a little.” 

That was an understatement. 

“The one bad thing is that it’s kinda infested with scorpions.” His face was a mixture of excitement and dread. The place was a wreck and even I thought the landlord was clever. He’d either get these young, strong college kids to fix the place up, (James would turn out to be a very talented woodworker), or they wouldn’t and that wouldn’t matter. Either way the landlord had income. Either way Jake and James had a project and they were young with youth fueled enthusiasm.

Snook is 17 miles from College Station. It’s small.  It’s poor. Very poor. 

We toured the uneven floors and rotted out doorframes. They’d done a bit of work when I visited but it wasn’t near enough. I didn’t mention that I would have been more concerned with the rat population than the scorpions but apparently they had other visitors as well. 

“There’s a woman that comes down and knocks on the door at night. She asks if we want company”. We both looked at each other.

“What do you do,” I asked. 

“We don’t open the door.” 

“I really hate scorpions,” Jake said as he stomped with his steel toed boots on one as it moved across the floor, its barbed tail high above its eight legs. 

“How in the world would he sleep here?” I thought to myself. 

It wasn’t long before they moved. 


In 2013, Jake long in Heaven by my reckoning, out at the farm and moving rocks, I felt something on my finger. Already bitten by a copperhead, it didn’t feel exactly like that, but there was something reminiscent. (Venom feels different than getting cut or burned. It’s like this: if you order hot chicken and you can get the not hot, the little hot, the pretty hot, the very hot, and then there is screaming hot. On the venom scale this was in the little hot range.) I looked down and there up against a crack in the flat rock I had just tried to pick up was a crispy, vanilla brown, smallish scorpion, its tail whipping around ominously. Predatory almost and daring me to try once more. 


Jake, I love you. I think about you all the time. Your god daughter is on her way to college. She’s going to be at your dad’s alma mater, Indiana. She is a dancer. She is really pretty and kind. James has a son going to TAMU. He’s taller than James and good at football. Every one is getting older. Including me. I’ll see you one day. I count on that. In the meantime, well… I am praying for those new college kids and all your friends, each time they come to mind. Your brothers take great care of me. Grandmother remembers you cheating at Canasta. I don’t imagine there are any scorpions in paradise. Or if they are, you don’t hate them. Besides, the ones here in Texas… not much more than St. Louis style hot sauce. Sorry SB. Jake tell him I love him too. Miss you son. 



For James Leiskau Woodworking, go HERE.  
For info on Snook, TX that has a native Cherokee Plum stand of trees and that’s about all, go HERE
If some people collect COVID strains, Janet collects venom, for those accounts go HERE and HERE.

5 Responses

  1. I was reading the Sunday comics and there was a scorpion – tail down – I thought it was rubber toy – my sister had a creepy crawler that made bugs and spiders – you could eat.

    This was in Wortham Texas. my one and only encounter.

    My Aunt Mildred smashed it with something

  2. Nice remembrance Janet. Kay and I are living in Baton Rouge. Talk to Catherine and Hugh ever now and then. Never made it down to Mexico.

  3. I think we associate “things”-holidays, objects, places, smells, etc- with those we love. Those things remain in our minds as the remnants we have of those who have gone to God. Long after we can’t remember dates, or even names….those things remain reminders of our loved, and where we are joining them.
    Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful heart and willing spirit to share.

  4. Interesting, but very realistic way to remember your son. I appreciated the detail and diction of what you shared. Since I love you so much, this added to my understanding of you as a Christian woman. One who has seen life in venomous ways but chooses the eternal joy that is promised to all of us as Believers. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jan- I love these little glimpses into the Siefert family. I miss Jake but I know we will all see him again one day. ❤️

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