Thoughts of an Abandoned Python on the Beach
By David Hartley Mark
“10-foot reptile suns on South Florida Beach. The large reptile was out of its element for sure.”—Sherri Lonon, Reporter for patch.com
Irv, where are you, Irv?
I thought we were friends.
Didn’t you used to squint at me through those thick, Coke-bottle-bottomed glasses of yours, ‘way back when you had just snuck me into the country illegally and I was still little enough to occupy that monster-size terrarium of yours, and whisper, “Burmey, you and I—we’ll always be Forever Friends”?
I remember when you brought me home—I was just a little guy, then—all of five-six feet long, who knew exactly? I was always curled up in a tight little ball, when I wasn’t hanging in trees, back in my little Thai home rainforest. I was a shy little fella. And you, you were strange, too: living in that dark, stinky, little studio apartment in Sarasota, never doing the laundry, surviving on takeout Chinese, Domino’s, and Subway footlongs. It was a dump, even by my standards—and I’m a ground-feeder.
Still, it was as though we were made for each other. You would catch me field mice in traps, and an occasional innocent songbird from the yard. It seemed to make you so happy to watch me squeeze them to death, and swallow them slowly. The only thing that made you put down your game controller was watching me torture small creatures. Hey, I’m a serpent, not a moral decisor. That’s your job.
And it was always so dark in your apartment, Irv—nothing on but the TV—big TV, too—so you could watch those weird movies you liked—the “Saw” series, and all the movies you called classics, like “The Hills Have Eyes.” It got to me, even me, after a while: all those girls screaming, “No! Please!” and guys named Freddie and Jason and weirdos going “Nyahahaha!” while chopping people into hamburger with chainsaws.
I mean, really. You wouldn’t think that a snake had feelings, but I just wanted to curl up next to my heat lamp, and take a nice little snooze, especially after the white rats you bought me from the pet store were just a little bit too big for my snakey tummy. Hey, even a reptile has his limits.
Things got a little crowded after a while—I was getting bigger; could I help it? You kept bringing me goodies, and I kept eating them—I mean, I’m a carnivore. It’s all I know how to do, besides make snake poop and baby snakes. Snakes don’t play video games, and I missed out on the finer points of HALO and all those shooters you love so much. When you were sprawled all over the couch and wanted some company, I couldn’t help taking up a bit more pillow space than my share.
But that night that your friend Ernie came over with the twelve-pack of Miller, the Colombian Marching Powder, the Hawaiian Hootenanny, and the two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, and I turned out to be the Designated Driver between two stoners—well, Irv, that was the last straw. I hadn’t eaten a whisker since the hamster Ernie fed me the previous week, and my taste buds perked up when you got the munchies and he brought in the General Tso. I mean, I’m Asian, after all.
But when I crawled over to take a sniff and maybe dip my tongue into the Twice-Cooked Pork, Ernie shouldn’t’ve hit me on the nose. I’m sensitive—emotionally as well as physically. I turned on him, and, while you were outside looking for your wallet that he had thrown into the bushes while you were having that argument over who should tip the Delivery Guy, I squeezed him—well, maybe a mite too hard, but I was upset. Hey, I’m only reptile. Was I supposed to talk to him nicely? He was too far gone on white powder, wine, and beer to be reasonable.
So when you came back in, and saw nothing left of Ernie but his right sneaker and that smelly USF sweatshirt he used to wear, you kind of went ballistic. Next thing I know, you throw me into the Volvo, and we’re highballing it to the beach. You dumped my brown-and-tan butt into the dunes, and zoomed off with the lights dimmed.
Well, I may have the last snakey laugh, because I heard the young lady from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission telling the press guys that they were going to have to give me some kind of reptile Ex-Lax. The x-rays show some metal in my digestive tract—Shoot, we snakes are nothing but one long digestive tract! That metal must be Ol’ Ernie’s fake dog tags, that he used to try and convince dumb young ladies in bars that he was a Delta Force guy who served in Iraq.
Dumb Ernie…. Irv, come and get me. All is forgiven. I love you, Man.