Doug Pollei stooped below the branches of the orange tree in his back yard and lifted up a small pushcart that hadn't been moved in years.
That's when he saw the rattlesnake, a thick coil of yellow, brown and black, facing away from him.
Pollei, 54, ran inside to tell his wife, Cathy.
This eastern diamondback rattlesnake wasn't the first the Polleis had seen in three decades living at 629 Orange St. in Ozona.
Years ago, outside this house overlooking an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, Doug Pollei chopped off the head of a rattlesnake. As a boy, he had seen rattlesnakes swimming in the water. Coral snakes, he said, are common, too. Neighborhood lore even holds that a man living next door was killed in the 1940s when he got the worst of a rattlesnake bite.
But this time Cathy Pollei was adamant. "Doug, just call somebody to do it," she said.
At 3:03 p.m. Sunday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office received the call about the 7-foot rattlesnake. (It ended up being only 4 feet long - exactly 48 inches - but in the initial excitement, 7 feet seemed reasonable.)
One deputy came. Then a second and a third.
Doug Pollei took the deputy with the shotgun back to the snake nest. He prodded it with a metal pole and the deputy blasted away.
As the voices of children playing traveled over from neighbors on both sides, Cathy Pollei said it was a relief to have the snake dead. "When you see one," Cathy Pollei said, "you don't want to let it go."
Jonathan Abel can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4157.