Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Thirteen Hundred Rats"

From the T. C. Boyle story in this week's New Yorker:

When he came back into the room, I thought at first that he’d slipped into some sort of garish jacket or cardigan, but then I saw, with a little jolt of surprise, that he was wearing a snake. Or, that is, a snake was draped over his shoulders, its extremities dangling beyond the length of his arms. “It’s a python,” he said. “Burmese. They get to be twenty-five feet long, though this one’s just a baby.”
I must have said something, but I can’t really recall now what it was. I wasn’t a herpetophobe or anything like that. It was just that a snake wasn’t what we’d had in mind. Snakes didn’t play fetch, didn’t bound into the car panting their joy, didn’t speak when you held a rawhide bone just above shoulder level and twitched it invitingly. As far as I knew, they didn’t do much of anything, except exist. And bite.

“So what do you think?” he said. His voice lacked enthusiasm, as if he were trying to convince himself.

“Nice,” I said.

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