The Snake (continued)

Some of you have written to me asking what’s become of that book I was working on, The Snake?

Not to worry. It’s cruising along. It’s just about the only thing I’m writing these days, so it has my full attention.

What’s happened since I last wrote a post about it? Omar had gotten his snake. I’m calling it Arrow, after a corn snake that my friend Loreen Leedy had when she was little. Omar and his dad drive to the Snake Dude’s house. The Snake Dude is patterned after another friend of mine, Walter Mayes, the Giant Storyteller. I don’t know if Walter likes snakes or not, but I have him living in an old Victorian house on Portland’s Hawthorne Boulevard. The basement is full of snakes. Snake Dude teaches Omar a lot about snakes and helps him select his first one. The snake is a rescue. He was previously owned by a guy who called him Alger. (Alger Hiss. Get it?) The guy loved his snake, but his girlfriend did not. He finally had to choose: the snake or the girlfriend. Snake Dude definitely thinks he made the wrong choice. Omar, however, is making the right one.

Omar is to take his snake right home and put him in his habitat. Don’t handle him for five days. Let him get used to his new surroundings. After five days he’ll be hungry, so it will be time to feed him.

What do you feed the snake? Hairless baby mice. Pinkies. Snake Dude gives Omar ten frozen ones to start him off. Arrow/Alger will eat two at a time. Omar stashes the frozen package at the bottom of the family’s freezer. His mom never digs that deep.

After a few days Arrow is moving around and hungry. Omar knows it’s time to feed him. The problem is, he’s never done this before. He thinks he knows how to do it. There are plenty of videos on YouTube. His pal Samkatt comes along to help. Omar finds the baby mice more upsetting than he expected, but Samkatt is game. They thaw two mice in a glass of hot water, then take one upstairs. Omar doesn’t have a forceps yet. He uses his mom’s tweezers.

They put Arrow in a plastic Tupperware container. All the experts saw you should never feed a snake in his habitat. Samkatt goes first. He holds the pinkie by the tail, using the tweezers, and offers it to Arrow. The snake strikes faster than either boy expected. They watch, entranced and slightly horrified, as Arrow swallows his prey whole.

And then Mom comes home. And sees a glass of warm water on our countertop with something that looks like a wad of chewing gum floating in it.

You can imagine the rest. Boy, it was fun to write!

More later.

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