The Snake Is Gone
“The snake is gone.”
“I’m not sure. I’ve looked for him everywhere and he’s just gone that’s all.” He had that helpless look on his face that should have warned her she was getting into mighty deep waters. But like all the other times, she plunged ahead heedlessly.
Now probably wasn’t the time to assail him with myriads of recriminations. But on the theory that late was better than never…”How did he get the top off his cage? Strength like that, I guess we can cancel his gym membership”
The look of exasperation on his face made her feel more than a little cranky, after all it wasn’t every day that an uninvited and unwanted snake had up and disappeared just as she was feeling the first stirrings of affection. Ungrateful little varmit.
Of course it hadn’t bolted. She knew it was in her house somewhere. And it wasn’t a question of out of sight out of mind because when a snake is out of sight, the mind is full of it.
“Maybe I should get a mouse to make him hungry, than when he comes out to eat it, I could grab him.”
Provided it has 20/20 eyesight, she thought despairingly.
What happens if the mouse gets out of his box? One mouse lost and the snake in hot pursuit of it. What if both of them disappear and they get a whatever it is mice eat to tempt the mouse out on the theory the snake will follow his dinner and whatever little morsel the mouse likes might go AWOL also, and the snake will be chasing the mouse who will be chasing the tasty little morsel and … Oh, God, maybe she should take one of those valium she stole from her friend’s medicine cabinet.
Is it possible to have a love-hate relationship with a snake or was she just being passive-aggressive?
The look on her face stopped him cold. “I’m going to go look for him some more.”
A minor victory, at least the mouse idea bit the dirt.
“I’ll help you look.” From the expression on his face, she could tell how much he welcomed that prospect, but the way she figured it, his snake, her house, they each had a fifty percent stake in finding it. She started to point that out to him, but she was talking to air because he was gone.
She wondered a little madly if he had disappeared too. Maybe the next to go would be the three cats, the two curmudgeons and Sweet Sam, and then the dogs, the one she liked and the other one. She was probably stuck with Twyla, that lazy no-account turtle. She’d be around forever. Or maybe she’d disappear too.
A clean sweep. How breathtakingly simple and peaceful it all sounded. Maybe she’d disappear, too. Of course it would have to be in a totally different place from him, the snake, the three cats, two dogs, and Twyla. Ah that was the nightmare. Maybe they’d all disappear to the same place and then where would she be? Right, the snake eating her own tail.
She followed him into his part of the house.
How she wished a snake could bark. Even a few meows would suffice. How could you find a 4½ foot piece of soundless protoplasm? Obviously, you couldn’t unless and until it wanted to be found which wasn’t looking too likely at this moment.
To do it justice, she remembered thinking when she knew she was powerless to stop it, that it might be nice to have something in the house that didn’t signal its disdain with her husbandry skills like all the others did, by opening up and verbalizing their disappointment. He, on the other hand, she figured would sit in his cage, eat the occasional mouse and surround his space with…nothing. Perfect.
Of course that scenario didn’t figure on him escaping and taking the bliss out of the equation.
Three hours after the great search commenced, she concluded there must be a better way.
Five hours later, she figured out what it was.
Six hours later, she had the name of what she figured passed for a snake charmer in the twenty-first century. He worked at the nature center and as the receptionist at her vet had described him: “What he didn’t know about snakes hadn’t been discovered yet.”
All well and good, but did that knowledge extend to finding one?
Only one way to find out. Judging this too critical a matter to be left to the perp who let him wander off in the first place, she headed to the nature center.
She was sure her shrink, more precisely ex-shrink, would approve of her new-found decisiveness. Wasn’t that what he meant when he nicknamed her Sadie Spineless?
Her interview with the snake guy was short, sweet, and unproductive. For one thing, he seemed to take it as a personal affront that being blessed with a snake she had been stupid or careless enough to lose it. In vain she protested that it wasn’t like it was gone for good, it would probably come back when it was hungry or needed to pee or something.
“Why,” he asked with just the slightest curl of his lip, “did she think he was unable to discharge his bodily functions outside of the cage.”
Righto, with two dogs, three cats, probably she shouldn’t count Twyla although she did have to change her water every week, she knew about peeing outside the box. He didn’t have to be so nasty about it. Besides he had the most unnerving habit of referring to the snake as “he,” which made him seem almost like a relative. Come to think of it there were certain similarities. But she needed to stay focused. Isn’t that the other thing her ex-shrink was always nattering about– her lack of focus. Not that their meetings were so focused. Every time she walked into his office, she had the nagging feeling that he was trying to remember who she was. Didn’t he have files or something?
He did have one suggestion. “I know this guy who can channel snakes. Give him something that belongs to him and he can tell you where he is.”
It’s not like I have the shirt and pants it was wearing the last time I saw it. What in the hell does he mean by “something that belongs to him.”
But he was still talking, “Of course, he charges for his services, but I would think,” here he gave her a hard-eyed look, “it’s the least you can do after everything you put him through.”
She decided to press on despite her determination that not one thin dime would pass from her wallet to this obviously deranged individual and his buddy. Probably they were in this racket together. Come to think of it, how lucrative could that be? Probably not a lot of people set out to own a snake in the first place and then manage to lose him, er it, in less that a month?
“How does he find it, I mean him? Does he come to the house and start looking under the furniture?” (like we’ve been doing, she wanted to add but didn’t)
“Oh, no, that costs extra. You bring him something the snake was particularly fond of and he contacts him through his smell.”
She wondered if she should tell him that the only thing she was sure the snake was fond of was the live mice that were its dinner every couple of weeks. And they were gone with the snake.
Mumbling something about wanting to think it over, she finally escaped, with him darkly muttering behind her about the clock ticking on the poor snake.
She found his old bat in the garage and slept with it lying beside her. Preparation was another thing her ex-shrink was always going on about. Well she was prepared all right. If she woke up to find a pair of beady eyes looking at her, she’d know what to do.
The next morning she found the dog she liked in the kitchen shaking his ears and a fine white powder falling gently on the floor around him.
Suddenly he was standing in front of her looking vaguely remorseful, as it turned out nowhere near what the occasion demanded.
“I was petting him.”
She looked at him temporarily bereft of speech.
“It’s just flour. Someone told me to put flour on the floor and then I could see where the snake was…”
“How much flour?”
He pointed to her previously unopened one-pound bag of flour. It was empty.
“You put a pound of flour all over your bedroom?”
“And the bathroom.”
“What about the closet?”
She went back to bed.
Four hours later, she was dreaming of a floury snake cavorting merrily on her chest, his wiry body tracing a snowy path on her bed.
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