“I’ll be damned,” said Professor Herbert Schwenkopfer under his breath. “I never in a million years expected to see this place again.”
“Oh, nothing, chief. I left home at 18, never looked back. But…”
“Do you want to keep your snake or do you want us to dispose of it?”
“I’ll keep him,” said Herb. “It would be a shame for such a survivor to end his days with a shovel dropped behind his head. That’s what you’re thinking, right, Chief?”
“That’s how we usually get rid of varmints like that. You really don’t think he ate a kid?”
“No. He’s not big enough. It’d take a really large snake — maybe an anaconda — to eat something as big as a human child. More likely Lamont here ate a large rat, cat, chihuahua or something. Anyway, it’s too late now.”
“Chihuahua? You think it’s alive in there?”
“I was joking, Chief. Well, thanks for the call. Definitely a surrealistic experience, this whole morning. One for the Twilight Zone, that’s for sure.”
“You could buy this place, Professor. It’s for sale. Rumor it’s haunted, but I’d guess it was haunted by old Lamont here.”
“No thanks. You couldn’t give me this place. I had enough the first time. It’s a piece of shit anyway, held together with liquid nails and paneling.”
Herb and the chief carefully lifted the crate into the back of the pick-up. Herb covered it with a blanket and strapped it down. “I owe you a lot, old fella’. My whole career started with you.” It was all one to Lamont, cold-blooded creature that he was.
“Well, that’s that,” said Officer Mendez watching Professor Schwenkopfer drive away in a cloud of dust.
“I like happy endings,” said Little Timmy Ortiz, wiping a tear from his eye with the butt of his 45.
“Be careful with that thing, or you won’t have one of them happy endings,” said the chief, jumping back in time to escape the random blast of the 45.
“Whoa,” said Little Timmy. “That was too damned close. Almost shot my foot off.”
“That’ll teach you to make random gestures with a loaded gun.”
Little Timmy shrugged. The chief was right. It had taught him.
The two policemen looked down into a newly made hole through the avocado green shag carpeting, the plywood floorboards and some asbestos tile on the basement ceiling.
“What’s that smell?”