Ten minutes after numerous kids had left the library, blessed silence in their wake, I went into the children’s room to clean the area, because it’s a necessity.
As I pulled a basket of board books into its position on the floor, I spotted the tail end of a wriggling critter. Never have I moved so quickly, sprinting across twenty feet, as only Flash Gordon could do.
I must have screamed a bit as I ran, because when I ran to the desk, there I found my boss, eyes wide, staring at me as though the critter were attached to my head.
“Snake!” I yelled. I stopped. We stared at each other.
“What do we do? Who do we call?”
Yes, we called the police. It’s a small town, there’s little to do, so Critter Cleanup is a thing here. (I’m making this up to atone for my weirdness in the Snake Riddance campaign.)
My boss called the police station while I sprinted — really, my Fitbit would have had quite the step count today if only I’d worn it; I should really find that thing — into the kitchen for a Thing to House a Snake, and what did my frantic eyes land upon? Tupperware!
With perfectly serviceable plastic, sans a lid, in hand, I re-entered the children’s room in peril expecting to see beady eyes glaring at me over a forked tongue.
But, no. The snake — admittedly a juvenile, even I could admit to that, but a snake nonetheless! — had serpentined its way between an immovable bookcase and an equally obstinate wall. I had three inches of clearance at best in which to shoo said adder into the box.
I handed the box to my boss and ran, again…to the yardstick!
Yardsticks are surprisingly handy, have you one in your home? Get one. You’ll thank me someday.
With three feet of bravery between myself and the floor, I grabbed the box from my boss and hopped up behind the bookcase to flicked the beast out into open carpeting where my boss, bless her, anxiously awaited its eruption. I tried to toss the box upon the wriggling mass, but I missed badly. With blind fear as her sidekick, my boss started a banshee wail and fell to the floor, grabbing at the plastic cage and righting it around the beast, encasing it within Tupper-walls as she screamed all the way down.
Squealing as though shot, my boss had handily housed the heinous asp as it hissed and hied! Such drama in the Easy Readers section! We haven’t seen this much screaming and yelling since…this morning after Story Time, but I digress.
The snake was officially under plastic and my boss realized she’d squished the very end of the snake’s tail beneath the edge of the box, but she mentioned it only, not trying to relieve any pressure upon it. She shuddered all the way out of the room while I ran to find my phone. Because how can you take a picture without a telephone, right?
Not worrying that clarity would be ideal for identification purposes, I snapped a shot of the evil-doer as it wriggled, and then I texted the somewhat cloudy image to Out There friends who happened to be male and unafraid of wildebeests, lions, or snakes.
I needed to know what we’d trapped.
Five minutes later, my boss, in the other room, the one farthest away from the Captured Perpetrator, yelled, “The cops are here!”
And sure enough, I looked out the windowed double doors and saw an SUV has arrived. Help was here!
I narrated, yelling loudly so my boss could be in on the play by play. “He’s in his vehicle,” and three minutes later, my hands still on my hips, my eyes still glued on the Out There’s Finest, I continued, “Yup…still in his vehicle. Maybe he’s calling for back-up! Maybe he’s loading his gun!” A full five minutes later, “I’m certain that any moment now, we shall be saved!”
Another two minutes later, I’d walked away, sure that this one was all on me and I’d have to Take Care of It somehow without aid of a flute or ess-hook device so prevalent on nature shows.
Finally! The front doors opened and the officer walked in — unencumbered by things like tranquilizer guns, a trap, not even a simple burlap bag — greeted by the merry voice of my boss calling toward him, announcing, “You can’t laugh at us!”
To which the officer, his eyes glinting, his lips smirking and deprecating, responded, “I already am.”
Still unperturbed, I declared, “But you haven’t seen the beast!” I showed him the way to its housing, at which the officer crouched low over the box and asked, “Do you have any cardboard?”
I went into the main office where my boss, having heard the request, was busily shuffling through the Layers of Library Time Past to find a manila folder, which she thrust in my general direction before retreating back into her office. I thought perhaps that might be the least friendly place to hide, since I consider all things dark, cluttered, and less frequented — namely, The Office — to be taboo from the moment I encountered my snake nemesis. From the Encounter until Forever, I shall only tread in open aired spaces, far from the ghouls and lurking beasts that live in corners.
Anyway, the officer thrust the folder beneath the Tupperware box and managed to stand upright with it with only a few moments of near escape. Manila folders are not rigid, you know, and they can gap, allowing anything inside to free bits of itself and startle local librarians.
Finally, we made the Long Walk to the outside, where the snake would be free to live. The officer said he “loved snakes”, and didn’t want “to harm it”, which my boss overheard and yelled in reply from the office depths, “I don’t love snakes! Harm it, harm it!”
The Library of the Out There has a foyer, meaning that two sets of double doors must be opened in order to allow entry or retreat. I led the charge, holding the door for the officer and his captive, and right there, between Set of Doors One and Set of Doors Two, the manila folder’s flexibility came into play, as it buckled and freed the critter behind me. I heard only, “Oops, it’s out…” before mad dashing my way to the freedom of wide open sidewalk and air to inhale, which thankfully prevented my fainting.
Kicking it free of the facility, the officer then grabbed the snake by the tail and took a picture of it, while I asked, “So I should have just grabbed it by the tail and tossed it out?”
“Oh, no,” he said. “It would have bit you. Stings a little.”
Then he flung it into the grass.
Later, a volunteer arrived for her shift, and my boss and I retold the story thusly:
Boss: You missed the excitement!
Me: A snake, six feet long!
Peripherally, I see my boss stretch her hands about a foot apart to show the volunteer the snake’s length. Granted, it wasn’t six feet long, but it was three for certain. Probably four.
Me: And this big around!
I used both hands to indicate the circumference of a gallon of milk, while Boss used only her thumb and forefinger to create the “Okay!” gesture. So wrong.
The volunteer, dumbfounded and dubious, asked, “Did it get any of the kids?”
Boss: No, it…
Me: (totally interrupting) Yes! It was carrying one in its mouth as it wriggled toward us!
Once the mayhem had subsided, I was left holding an empty container; its origin dawned on me.
“Okay,” I said to my boss. “Here’s your Tupperware back.”
I blinked and smiled. She blinked and considered firing me, I’m certain.
“Throw it away, I’ll never use it again.”
Library silence was restored.
I may play fast and loose with details, but I also avoid things like sitting at my desk — who knows what critter will live under there; there are so many food droppings there (I’m a grazer) that any beasts could live happily for months — so I only stand now. Plus, I avoid ceiling tiles, which is a bit more difficult, but worth the effort. Because, hey, have you seen “Snakes on a Plane”??