I was home alone Sunday afternoon, doing the laundry and some work I’d brought home, when I had an unannounced visitor. We’d never met before, so I thought that just to drop-in was a bit rude. But there he was on my doorstep. Then he moved right on in without waiting for an invitation.
He was brown and black and maroon, about eight inches long, and smart enough to figure out, rather quickly, that hiding behind my dryer would stop me from screaming. As loudly.
We quickly came to an unspoken agreement wherein I would stay away from the laundry closet and he would stay where he was, behind the dryer with his head poking out underneath the bi-fold door so he could keep an eye on me.
I thought it was thoughtful of him to stay mostly hidden even though I suspected that he was only doing it to keep me from screaming again.
While Dog came downstairs to see what all the ruckus was about, I grabbed my phone to call the one person close enough, and brave enough, to take care of my unwanted guest – Lily.
Please be home. Please be home. Please be home.
“A what is under your dryer?”
“A snake. There’s a snake in.my.house. And he’s looking at me from under the door. I think he’s getting ready to make his move.”
“Make his move?” And she started laughing. “What does it look like?”
“He looks like a snake, Lily.”
“Yeah, I got that. What color is it?”
“He’s a bunch of colors, and he’s got beady little eyes.”
“Does it have a neck?”
“No, no neck.”
“Then it’s probably harmless,” she said and then sighed. “Okay, find a towel to shoo him out. I’m coming over.”
I have great neighbors.
I gave Dog a Frosty Paw to get him upstairs and away from the scene. Lily got there. I handed her a dishtowel. And the snake slid right out the front door and into my flower garden.
“Wow. Is that a pigmy rattler?” Lily asked when she saw the colors on his back.
“That’s not helping,” I told her, removing the paper bag I was breathing into from over my face.
“I don’t see anything on his tail,” and she’s crouching closer to him as he’s trying to climb up my fence. “You know, you need to move this bougainvillea. The meter reader is going to have a hard time getting in here once it gets a little bigger.”
“Li-ly, what kind of snake is it?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. He’s just a baby, so there are going to be more of them around.”
We went inside and looked up Florida snakes. He does, in fact, look like a pigmy rattler, but in the interest of my sanity, we’ve decided that he’s a corn snake. So, I’m calling him Cornholio, and I think Lily’s intense scrutiny and the way she kept trying to pick him up have scared him off for good.
I repaid Lily for helping me out with Cornholio by cleaning out her pantry and refrigerator. She is a food hoarder. At 5’2″ and a hundred pounds, she doesn’t eat much, but she buys a lot of food. The oldest thing I found expired in 1999.
“That’s fine,” she told me when I held it up to her and said ‘Really?’ “I’ve never even opened it.”
“The lid’s bulging.”
“Okay, so maybe that one is bad.”
“And for the record, vinegar and brine do not ensure the preservation of a food item after five years.”
“I haven’t been sick in years.”
“I didn’t say they wouldn’t preserve you. I said it doesn’t ensure freshness.”
“Stop buying black beans and olives. You have enough in here to feed Cuba for a week.”
“You know what? Stop buying food altogether. Check with me before you go to Publix. And by the way, this type of cheese is not the kind that ages well.”
Two hours and three grocery bags full of discarded food later, I left her to finish and went home to make dinner for both of us.
I fed her my version of shrimp Creole last night and made her stay over to watch scary movies while I fell asleep in the big chair in my Cornholio-free house.