I walked closer to the bureau and peered behind it watching it move along the chords slowly, coming to a stop right before the end of the other side.
“Where’s the snake?” I heard my dad kind of screech.
“Behind the bureau.”
My dad shuffled in his sweat shorts and polo, the same outfit he’d worn for days, as he always had, oxygen tubes in his nose.
“Keep an eye on it, I’m gonna call animal control. We had a snake in the house a few weeks ago.”
My dad was already leaving the room to grab the phone before I even gave a response.
“You want me to just watch the snake???”
“I’m just gonna grab the phone, Ava.”
I already had my cell phone in my hand and had looked up the number. I dialed waiting, watching the snake, sort of of hovering over it as it lay still. I tried to bypass the pre-recored menu as I always do ny smashing “0” or screaming “operator” and that is how I got Linda so quickly.
“Linda, there is a snake in my mother’s bedroom. I have it trapped behind the dresser. Can someone come get it?”
“Oh we don’t come get snakes unless it’s trapped in a container.”
“Well, I have it contained.”
“No… it needs to be in a box or underneath something where it can’t get out. We’ve gone out to people’s houses and chased snakes for hours, all around their house. We can’t go out unles sthe snake is contained. You can call an exterminator.”
“My parents are elderly, my father is on oxygen, they can’t afford to pay for an exterminator or to live with a snake in the house.”
I could sense the anxiety in my voice and the pressure of the animal behind the dresser, ready to move at any moment. I could feel it. I wanted to scream at her. If I was alone, I may have. I didn’t want to frighten the snake. I didn’t want to kill it either. I wanted it relocated.
“I’m sorry to hear that but we can’t come out to find snakes anymore. We’ve gone out too many times for them.”
I once saw a snake gutted but moving on the side of the road. We called animal control to euthanize it. I waited an hour maybe over an hour before giving up. It laid still in front of me that entire hour. My partner, his son and I were there, comforting the snake in presence as people walked by. We were at the beach going back to our car. A car had clearly run the snake over and people continuously told us to “let the evil serpent die” and that they “hoped it would die” as i tried to calmly educate them on how fucking ridiculous and selfish they were. I tried to watch my language and temper and teach the value of kindness to animals to Nate from a young age. It was hard to make children vegan but we gave him vegan chicken nuggets, hot dogs, french fries, fun things that my partner would make and take him to every local protest I organized for PETA. I tried.
“If you can contain it, we can come out and pick him up.”
“Ok sure. I’ll call you back.”
As we walked away, after that hour passed, I looked back, checking on it. It was slithering into the grass into the woods.
“Sometimes snakes play dead,” Smith said to me. “That’s what she said on the phone right.”
I stood stunned. It’s stomach had been cut open and it had laid there still so long as I stayed next to it, for over an hour.
“But it’s stomach was cut open.”
“Maybe he was playing,” Nate said, excited to go home and eat.
I waited a few more seconds.
“Remember that time on the way to the shore, we stopped and helped that hurt butterfly in the road?”
“Yeah!” I turned away from the snake, trying not to ruminate on whether I had helped or hurt it more. “Good eye. It was in the street with a hurt wing. I can’t believe we saw it from the car.”
The snake began moving towards my mother’s nightstand.
“I’m calling Animal Control. I have them on the line.”
“I already called. They can’t help us. They said we have to contain it. Dad, it’s moving!”
I held my phone up, wanting to record it’s size as it wrapped around the painting of the mother and young boy I had given to my mother years ago. It was framed on her nightstand. All the paintings I had bought her were displayed in her room.
“Ok, well get it, don’t let it get away!”
“Dad, it’s on the nightstand, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to just grab it?”
And I watched it both in real life and through the lens in awe of its grace, display of confidence, and the way it jumped from floor to hamper to nightstand. It didn’t weave it’s way up like I expected. It just kind of jumped.