“In 1990, I traveled to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. Lost on the mountain roads, I stopped in a store to ask for directions. Luckily, a man in the store knew where I was going, and drove me down the windy roads with the backdrop of the mountain slopes until we arrived at Viper.
As I drove down the dirty road to the Riddle family home, I was greeted by yelping dogs, chickens in trees, a kid squinting and carrying a gun. This place was unlike any other, and during the long day I spent there, I lived as if in a feverish dream, witnessing the rites of the Holy Church, where the maneuvering of deadly snakes and the consumption of strychnine serve as a measure of faith and God’s will. Here, family and religion hold people together. The violence of poverty sometimes separates them. The Napiers, another Viper family, were truly savages.