VIII: Roscoe and Abby’s Children

            I got an e-mail from Roscoe – he wrote just as he promised he would.  Here’s what he said.

Dear David,

            Greetings from Brazil!  This is just a note to thank you for everything, and to let you know that I got here all right and everything is OK.

            When the ship arrived at the Port of Santarém I got off as quickly as I could.  I got myself out of the hold and up on deck, and then slithered over the guard rail and into the water before anyone could stop me.  Anacondas are big but we can move fast when we have to!  Diving into the Amazon River at last was one of the greatest moments of my life!  I am so grateful to you for making it possible.

            The Amazon right at the docks of Santarém is kind of polluted with garbage and plastic and diesel fuel, so I got away from the city right away.  Within the first ten minutes I caught my first fish in nine years – a real Brazilian fish – my, it was delicious!  It tasted like home, the way it was before they captured me and my American adventure began.  It feels so good to be back home! 

            At Santarém another big river, called the Tapajós, joins the Amazon, so I thought I would try my luck there.  The Tapajós leads to a whole network of smaller rivers that pass through the jungles of the Amazon Basin, with hardly any people and no cities at all, and that’s where I decided to stay.  Hunting here is easy and lots of fun, and there are so many different kinds of prey!  And it is great to be able to swim again.  Plus I found a whole colony of anacondas.  I had been away so long I was a little uncertain in the Anacondan language at first, but it came back to me quickly.  So I have friends, and plenty to do.  I have even met a lady anaconda I really like, and we have had some fish together – who knows what may happen there? 

            I miss you, and the snakes in the house, and music, and the American newspapers.  But the move was the right thing to do.  It took a long time for me to get over the shock of the capture, and the glass box, and it was so important for me to have a safe, quiet space to heal from that.  But I’m over it now, thanks to your help, and I feel like I’m finally living the way I was meant to live!

            Please give my best wishes to your niece Arianna.  She didn’t see me when she was at your house, but I saw her – I hid in the hall closet so I wouldn’t frighten her, and watched through a crack in the door.  Such a lovely young girl – so smart and funny!  You must be very proud of her.

            Love,

            Roscoe

So that feels good.  Now here’s what happened with Abby’s snakelets. 

            As I mentioned in an earlier letter, there were two problems with having these 11 new mud snakes.  First, there were hardly enough mice and cockroaches in the back yards on my block to support the snakes we already had, even with the meatballs I supplied and Roscoe gone.  Doubling the number of hunters would wipe out the prey in a short time.  And then what?  Could we take over the back yards in the next block?  But that would mean snakes crossing the road.  Could they hunt in the park?  Not really – they would be exotic species there (meaning animals from outside), which would mess up the balance of hunters and prey already in the park.  Whenever new animals are introduced into a wild environment there is disruption and trouble.  Plus how would they get there and back, on the bus?  Snakes can’t drive.

            And there was the second problem of there suddenly being more mud snakes than all the other kinds together.  Could they all get along, especially without Roscoe for a leader?   Snakes under pressure don’t always act peacefully.  But Abby’s snakelets were born in my house – I couldn’t just kick them out, especially with nowhere for them to go.  None of this was their fault – they had just been born.  What should we do?   

            It was Francisco who figured out the answer.  It was sort of like Roscoe’s answer.  Francisco talked with Abby about her old home, before she came to live with me.  Abby came from the swamps of Alabama, where mud snakes are not exotic but native.  It’s hot and wet and steamy there, with is lots to eat, and mud snakes everywhere so another dozen wouldn’t change things very much.  Francisco got the idea of going back to his mother’s home country, and he talked to the others.  “What kind of life would it be for us here,” he asked. “Not much different from the zoo, except we wouldn’t be locked in.  But this is no way for a mud snake to live – there’s no mud, and no swamp, and no fish!  And it’s cold!  Let’s go find some nice warm mud!”

            He was right, of course, and most of his brothers and sisters agreed.  It was much better coming from them than from me.  Of the 11 new mud snakes, nine voted to go to Alabama.  Only Diego and Shasta wanted to stay – Maria de Gracia promised to teach them to read, and they didn’t want to miss out on that (the others didn’t care about reading).  And Shasta, at least, liked fog better than she thought she would like mud.  So they stayed behind.  All of us (and maybe especially Abby) were really glad that two of the new mud snakes stayed with us.

            I ordered an Uber for the others to take them to Muddy Swamp State Park in Alabama, and sent them off with a big plastic bin full of meatballs and three dozen eggs and a whole case of Diet Coke (the driver promised to open the bottles for them).  This solved the hunting problem and also the other problem, because that left only three mud snakes: Abby, Diego and Shasta.  The others promised to write but I doubt they will, as they don’t know how, and they were only with us for a few weeks.  But they’ll be fine.