What he didn’t know—but would have if he knew how to read—was that poisonous snakes hid in the thick weeds surrounding the stream down below. Ricky didn’t care, even though seeing the crude picture of a snake had frightened him at first.
Ricky reached the bottom of the fairly steep hill, spotted the ball floating in what appeared to be a shallow, fairly harmless puddle. It may have spanned nearly ten feet, but he thought he could see the bottom not three inches below the surface. Glancing up at the ball—resting on the surface as serene as could be—Ricky decided to go ahead and try retrieving it.
Ricky took one cautious step, then another, slowly stepping closer to the ball bobbing on the surface. When he’d finally reached it he leaned down to pick it up, allowing it to drip dry as he tucked it under his arm and turned around. Starting back the way he’d come, he missed seeing the reptilian head as it rose slightly above the surface of the water, yellow eyes blinking while they glared at him.
Ricky never noticed, however, and sloshed out of the shallow water. Reaching the small area of dry ground right before the hill started again he bounced the ball up and down. Laughing at the droplets of water hitting him in the face Ricky continued throwing the ball downward, catching it when it rebounded; totally oblivious to the creature coming toward him, swimming just below the surface.