We used to have this beautiful snake when I was a kid. Baby ball python. It was kind–as much as a snake can be. I mean snakes are pretty much either docile or they are fierce. They aren’t a snuggly, cuddly type of pet.
He was pretty awesome and we walked around with him around or necks. Watched TV while he slithered around at our feet. Scared the shit out of visitors with him. But, everyday his novelty wore off a little more, and my brother found he had less and less spare change to buy him a rat every week to feed on–especially since I kept saving them, naming them after Speed Racer characters, and keeping them in my closet.
For longer and longer stretches the snake would go between meals and slowly he became more aggressive when the cage door was opened. He would lunge at your hand or face, blinded with hunger. It got so bad that even my brother, the toughest kid I knew was too scared to open it.
As the days went on, the snake became less and less appealing. We were young and unsure how to handle a creature so wild and vicious. He went from being a pet to being nothing more than the rat snakes we had in the woods that would wrap their body around your leg and slap at you with their tails if you stepped on their head.
The pet store wouldn’t take him back and nobody wanted to buy an aggressive snake. They wouldn’t even take him for free. Apparently once a snake adapts to being hungry, there is no going back. The aggression just becomes who he is.
He wasn’t a pet anymore. He was a nuisance. And we resented him for it, even though it was us who created him.
Eventually the snake died of hunger. We all felt like shit about it, but nobody took responsibility. We told each other it was the snake’s fault. If only he had let us love him. Had let us feed him. Hadn’t tried to bite us…
But we all knew it was really our fault. We were just cowards.