How did this meeting go down? I assume the animal investigators called the woman and said, “We think we may have found your boa, the one who was snake-napped a couple of years ago.” (Remember, the boa’s name is Snek; the woman’s name was not given in the item. I’ve decided to call her Sally, instead of calling her The Woman.)
So Sally, who’s on her cell phone at a café, gets so excited she spills her cappuccino all over the table. Her heart is beating fast. “How do you know it’s Snek and where do I come to see him?”
The animal person says, “He’s got the markings and that chipped tooth you indicated when you filled in Form 839, Missing Possibly Lethal Animal Report two years ago. But he was not responsive to his name. He’s just been curled up in a cage looking woebegone.”
“Has he eaten?” Sally asks, as she dumps money on the table to pay for her cappuccino, goes to the counter and buys a stale croissant which she stuffs into her bag.
“We’re not sure,” says Tom, the animal guy. (You’re right, dear readers; he didn’t have a name in the original story so I’ve given him one.) “He has a lump somewhere in the middle of his expanse but when we gave him a live mouse, he ignored it totally so we’re now feeding the mouse which is sitting on Snek’s head nibbling on Snek. We’re a little confused.”
“No, it’s fine,” says Sally. “It means Snek is molting. He won’t eat while he’s molting.”*
Sally then dashes to the address Tom gave her, the rescued snake office, where Tom escorts her to Snek’s habitat. “OMG,” she said as the tears began. “That is Snek, no question. Looks like he’s grown a couple of feet but he’s still Snek.”
Tom swears he heard Snek sigh, although I’m pretty sure snakes don’t sigh. They molt, but don’t sigh. Other than that, Snek remains impassive and in molt status.
Sally rummages in her bag and pulls out the remains of the stale croissant. “He loves croissants,” she says. Snek blinks. It is a sign. Of something. With Tom’s permission, Sally opens Snek’s cage and offers him the croissant. “Snek,” she murmurs, “Snek.”
Snek continues to molt and does not eat the croissant. And Sally? Well, she’s still crying.
OK, I’ve run out of tale here. I was hoping Snek and Sally would rush to each other and embrace and embrace and embrace…for however long it took Snek to wind himself around her and squeeze his “Yo, babe! I’ve missed you.” But I just can’t envision it, especially since I wrote Snek into a molt.
Leaving me with the question that initiated this romp: how did the animal control people determine that Snek was indeed the woman’s kidnapped snek? Maybe Harper’s will follow up with another Snek story.
By the way, when scooting around to confirm that boas molt, I read that snakes make great pets, especially for people who are allergic to pet dander, which I am. I had a jolly laugh.
*Here, short fiction intersects with short facts. I know from personal experience, when once I had a professional relationship with an Arizona King snake named Basil, that snakes molt and do not eat while molting. After Basil finished his/her** molt, I took him on the subway to the Bronx Zoo, where I donated him to the constrictor collection at the reptile house. One of the most delightful adventures within my exciting life.
**The only way you can identify the gender of a snake is by putting a couple of them together in a habitat and see if one gets pregnant. How did you think it was done?