(apologizes for using action brackets in the title. Couldn’t be helped).
Background note – Mus (or Musica, Musser, Mustifer, or Lazy Cat) is my cat. Clingy, neurotic African cat.
I had an argument with the chef. Too long of a story to explain…essentially, rather than seeing me and wanting money, he has seen me and wanted a Project. This is closer to a PCV’s job, yes, but the particular project has turned into a territorial/family dispute. And has lately made me Angry. (the project is not going to happen). After some harshly spoken loud words with him and with Mama Regine on the subject…I went home. End of story.
That night, lying in bed, I start to hear strange noises. I’ve gotten used to living alone in my house. Used to the noises chickens make beneath my windows, noises my neighbors in back make, noises of mangoes and birds falling on the roof. I’m even used to the (somewhat rare) noise of Mus devouring a mouse or a little gecko.
This was different than all those.
To convince myself that it was not, in fact, a human intruder in my house, I turned on my bedside lamp.
The fuse blew and the lamp exploded.
Ok, I know where my flashlight is at all times. It helps when electricity is uncertain.
I get out of bed, slightly shaken, and walk to the living room. It’s dark, but the light switch is on the other side of the room.
In the middle of the floor is Mus.
Wrestling with a long black snake.
I panic. Don’t scream. Somehow have the presence of mind to back away to the kitchen to get my butcher knife.
I stand there, shaking, knife in hand. Mus is fighting valiantly. I reason that – since she seems okay – the snake must not be poisonous. This doesn’t help so much. Standing there, shaking, with the knife. Had I my machete (on the other side of the room, next to the light switch, would entail stepping over the snake) I think I would have hacked at it. But the knife…handle too short, I have to get too close to the snake, if I don’t hit hard enough the first time and it reacts up at me…no.
The snake is tightly curled on the floor. There’s some snake blood on my cement…is it dead? Maybe. I wait. I go get my raclette (squeegee like broom for mopping the floor). I will just push it out the front door…it starts to uncurl. Slowly. As calmly as I possibly can, I push it toward the door. Forceful. Step around it to unlock the door, open, push it as far as I can out into the yard. Mus follows (but she can get back in through the window). Shut the door. Lock it again. Turn on all the lights in the house. Go back to my bedroom, shaking…as I realize there is enough room under my door for a snake to crawl, I push a suitcase against it. There. Fine.
Somehow, I manage to sleep.
In the morning, I get up, remove the obstruction at my door, go back into the living room.
There, lying stretched across my books, is a dead black snake.
The same one.
Mus didn’t eat it…it’s completely intact…but she killed it somehow. And she’s sitting on her usual chair, purring, now meowing at me for breakfast.
Shaking…again…I pick it up with the same raclette and fling it into the side yard. Truly, truly dead.
Then I look at my doors. Front door – no way in hell a snake could have gotten under. …same with the back door.
Window? How could a snake climb several feet up the cement wall? And why?
Mus is notorious for brining in the mice and geckos to eat inside. And leave the heads for me to find. But…the snake was bigger than her. And she didn’t want to eat it. She would have had to jump through the window, struggling with it…and why.
And it almost six months I have never seen a snake in Mvangan.
Snakes are traditionally connected with sorcery. They’re warnings, say, to make you pay attention or change your ways or whatever.
I don’t believe in sorcery.
But if I did….
I have no idea how the snake got inside.
She got Friskies (dry, found now in Ebolowa, her new favorite) for her efforts, and the next day, an avocado.