‘Snakebite’ by Arthur Bradford

Snakebite by Arthur Bradford, 2006

The magic trick:

Drawing on classic sitcom patterns

“Snakebite” is a very funny story. It appears to draw from sitcoms – “Arrested Development,” perhaps? – as much as it does from literature. So all the rhythms are geared toward a comedic episode. Two jokes for every plot movement. Callback references. Recurring punchlines. The occasional trip into the absurd. And, yes, the semi-sappy lesson learned at the end. Mitch Hurwitz would be proud. And that’s quite a trick on Bradford’s part.

The selection:

“I got bit,” he said. “Snakebite.”

I stepped forward and examined the spot on his leg. There were indeed two small, red holes; fang marks, I supposed, where a snake or some other small animal had struck him. It didn’t look like anything very serious to me.

“Does it hurt?” I asked.

“Oh my God, yes!” said the man. “I think my leg’s gone numb!”

Jolene leaned her head out the window and said, “Tell this person to please get off the car.” The man gave Jolene a pitiful look and slowly rolled off the hood, landing gingerly on his one good leg.

“We’re late for a wedding,” I explained to him.

“I think I’ve been poisoned,” said the man. “I could really use some help. I can’t drive like this. My leg’s nearly paralyzed.”

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