Who is it about?

These are, if you will, the Ďbiosí of the prominent characters in Serpent Box. They are not traditional bios, however, they are more like sketches, or even impressions.

I donít want to convey the people of Serpent Box as characters, I want to describe the essence of who they are as people, as they relate to the story, and the world of the book. I donít want to give away any plot information or ruin your own impressions. I want to describe these people as if I were one of them, as if, having reached the end of my own life, I was being asked to say a few words about each for one last time - the old yarn spinner lying in his bed, perhaps going through a box of photographs of people he hasnít seen in a long, long time. As I see each face, my memories are stirred and I begin to speakÖ


What would you do if you heard the voice of God? How could you live with that? If God were to talk, would you listen? If He asked you to follow, would you obey? Youíd either go with Him or go crazy. But, Jacob Flint, with his big roving eye and his warped head Ė he listened. He followed. Imagine what it must have been like, to carry what he carried, in his head and in his heart. Itís hard enough to be a small, disfigured boy in a little town like that, but he had other afflictions apart from his deformity or his stature. Itís a miracle and a wonder he survived a childhood in Leatherwood, Tennessee. With his visions. With his dreams. With those voices in his head. Thereís no doubt that child was blessed. But such blessings demand a special type of devotion, and faith is one mystery that boy dared to solve for himself. He was many things to many people. They said he was a prophet, and a healer, living proof of a living God, but what he was cannot be summed up with words. He was what you needed him to be. And he was simply a boy, just like any other boy, before his soul was lost to the world of men.


Charles Flint, was a man of God, a man who breathed the scriptures, a man who believed in visions and dreams. He could do things with his eyes that most men couldnít do with a gun. He could make you surrender. One time he stopped a lynching without so much as a word from his mouth. He stepped into a circle of fire and put the fear of God into a posse of grown men when he was a boy not much older than Jacob himself. He raised his arms to Heaven and summoned a mighty wind and he put that fire out with the Holy Ghost. He cut the poor man down with a shard of broken glass he pulled from the hot coals with his bare hands. A man like that is born with something. A man like that is blessed. A man like that, when he has a vision, is believed. He saw that boy coming. He knew heíd have a son. He saw that holy mountain and that tree of life and death. It doesnít take the bite of a reptile to prove thereís a God. Just find a man like Charles Flint. His eyes will show you everything you need to know.


Rebecca Flint couldnít have known what awaited her on that mountain. A meadow. A creek. A storm. A tree. They were all part of the story, and part of that child. Her father once told her she was born with a destiny, only part of which did he reveal. He predicted the coming of Charles Flint, and through him, he told her, she would beget a blessed son. But he never told her what else he saw. Serpents. Fire. Dogbane and lye. Her part in his visions was always obscured by flames. She was more than just a vessel for a holy child. She was a messenger in her own right, and some say a whole lot more. The Flintís were always restless with a desire that this earthly life just would not satisfy. She was searching for something, and she found it. Rebecca bore her messenger, but the message itself is still a mystery that cannot be deciphered. Not here in this life. What she went through on that mountain, beneath that old tree, and what happened to her much later on is only part of it. The rest is open to your own interpretation.


They called her the old woman. Granny-woman. Yarb doctor. Gertie Bates was all these things. She was so small and bent, and she moved slow when she moved at all. It hardly appeared she was alive. She seemed helpless and frail. But thatís how it is with the snakes. Their form belies their power. They lie real still and they wait. They called her the old woman but she had great strength in her bony hands and in her heart. She never had a doubt about that boy. She was a second mother to that child, to both of the Flint children, and also to their father. She taught Charles Flint how to handle serpents and watch for signs. She told him to follow his dreams and gave Jacob the courage to follow his own. That woman was more than just a voice of reason, she was an angel from Heaven. When she put her hand on your head you felt like you were being touched by a ghost. They say she had a box of potions and spells. They say she was magic. But she healed folks with the flowers and the trees and the roots of that mountain. So maybe the mountain was magic. Maybe that old woman was an instrument of something much older than arrowheads or oaks.

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