Remember how I said that my love of animals was turning into a problem?
My bestest friend in the whole wide world and I went into town the other day. We had her kids with us (for the life of me I can't remember where my kids were) and we drove my Suburban. We took some stuff to the dump and stopped at the grocery store. The grocery store, pharmacy and doctor's clinic are all together in a strip mall sort of setup. I waited in the truck with all of the kids while Emily went into the store.
Just a few minutes after Emily disappeared into the store, I noticed Shawna from the pharmacy come out of the pharmacy door and look behind the garbage can that was up against the wall. She turned and said something to someone who was standing there and I thought I heard the word "kitten."
Let me take a moment to explain something about myself that you may or may not know. I love animals of all kinds. I can't think of a creature that I am not interested in at least seeing, and maybe touching or holding. If you said "Look! There's a fire-breathing poison-oozing triple-fanged slime demon in my underwear drawer!" I'd probably want to go take a look. Not all people are this way. Some people shudder at the mere mention of the word "snake" or "spider" or "puppy". So naturally, when I thought I heard "kitten" I was intrigued, especially because it was weird for there to be an animal at the pharmacy. It really shouldn't be too strange to have animals show up in town, when the word "town" describes a population of less than 5,000. My husband helped Fish and Game catch a moose on the football field two summers ago. But I digress.
Upon hearing that there was a sweet little kitten behind the garbage can, I immediately jumped out of my vehicle to investigate. Apparently I am a slow learner, if you consider what happened the last time I had an encounter with a kitten. I approached Shawna and asked her what was behind the garbage can. She said that it was a snake. A snake? How did I hear "kitten" instead of "snake?" Moving beyond my poor hearing, I was intrigued. A snake? At the pharmacy? I wish my kids were here. They would think that this was so awesome! I decided to catch the snake and take it home to show my kids. Maybe they could even keep it as a pet, as Mike's snake tank had been vacated by the previous occupant, Steve the corn snake.
I procured a box and with the help of the owner of the pharmacy, corralled the snake into the box. We took the box inside and taped it shut. When I walked back outside, Emily was in the Suburban. I put the box in the back and climbed into the driver's seat.
"What's in the box, Jules?"
"You don't want to know." You see, my bestest friend in the whole wide world does not like snakes. If there is a snake in the road and her car drives over it, she will scream and lift her feet off of the floor. I know. I've seen it happen.
Then I decided that I could maybe have a little fun with her. So I told her what was in the box.
"YOU PUT A SNAKE IN THE CAR THAT I'M IN? IN THIS CAR?!?!"
"Calm down. It's in a very securely taped box."
We stopped at the convenience store for a soda and some treats for the kids and then we headed home, a drive of about seven or eight miles.
The entire drive was peppered with comments like "I have never hated you as much as I hate you now" and "If anyone were to ask me who my best friend is right now, it's definitely not you."
I hadn't gotten a very good look at the snake, but it didn't appear to be very long, maybe a foot and a half or so. Again, I took advantage of my friend's phobia, as any good friend would.
"It's only three feet long."
"YOU PUT A THREE-FOOT-LONG SNAKE IN THIS CAR?!?!"
To which my answer was a giggle.
When we arrived at Emily's house, everyone piled out of the car and headed inside, except for me. I was going to mow the lawn, and I decided to take the box with the snake out of the car and put it under the Suburban so that it wouldn't get baked in the sun while I was mowing. When I picked up the box, however, it was considerably lighter. A quick peek inside confirmed my suspicion. There was a snake loose in my Suburban.
Looking at and holding a snake in a controlled environment is one thing, but having one slither up my pant-leg while I'm driving is a completely different can of worms. I had to find that snake before I did anything else. I didn't want to open the doors and just hope it went on its merry way back outside. I had to see it removed from my car. I started pulling things out of the Suburban; car seats, blankets, a tarp. Emily walked back out of her house to find the contents of my vehicle on her lawn.
"What are you doing?"
I gestured to the box. "It's empty."
"THE SNAKE IS OUT OF THE BOX?!?!"
Emily tends to talk in red all caps like that when she's mad. She took one step toward me and then said "What am I doing? I was coming to help you look for it but I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff and I'll go over if I take another step." She disappeared back inside the house and I continued to systematically disassemble my car.
My dog, Spanky, in the meantime, had been sniffing around up in the front seat of the car. He was checking out all of the air vents underneath the dash and he was whining and pacing like something was wrong. I just knew that the snake had made its way up to the front and was now in the air ducts of my car.
I called my husband, who told me that he couldn't leave work to help me find a renegade snake. So I called my friend Scott, who works at a mechanic's shop. I explained to him what had happened and that I thought that it was now in the ventilation system, which was beyond my capabilities to take apart. He told me that he would see if Bradley would come help me. Bradley is the teenage son of one of the owners of the shop and he works there a few days a week. Bradley also loves snakes and has several of them as pets.
He sounded like exactly what I needed - a snake charmer mechanic.
When Bradley showed up, Emily and her kids sat a safe distance away on the lawn to watch the show. He and I discussed where the snake might be. He thought that the air vents were unlikely. After several more minutes of fruitless searching, our eyes fell on the spare tire at the same time. It is bolted to the side of the cargo area and has a carpet cover with a zippered front. I had already unzipped the cover and patted down the tire, but we decided to take the tire completely off.
Guess what we found?
A three foot long bull snake.
I let Bradley take it with him. I'd had enough snake excitement for one day.
Emily and I are still friends, but I don't think she's completely forgiven me.
I'm not sure if she ever will.