I’m sitting in a room in Waterloo that stinks of mouse.
We have a heater on. In front of the heater we have a dead mouse in a bowl. The heater is making the room warmer. It is also making the room smell of mouse. Once you learn to identify the smell of mouse it is unmistakable. It’s not unpleasant. It’s just… mouse. We are both sitting in it. She’s working on her laptop. I’m drawing up a quote for a driving job and writing to you.
Outside the door, Meg the cat is very very curious. She’s trying to get in but she’s not allowed. I let her in a while ago just to see if her nose could help us in our investigations. It wasn’t. She was interested in everything.
Why have I chosen to make a warm room stink of mouse and sit in it? For a change this isn’t performance art. It’s not character research although it might turn out to be. It’s an escaped snake. Hex is out. He’s gone.
Thank God Mel saw him last night. It’s been years. I immediately assumed that we hadn’t closed his cage properly or something. Not so. He popped a vent in the back. After one evening with Mel, he was looking for the edges and pushing the boundaries. This is the effect she has on everything. But he’s gone. Escaped.
He likes to go downwards. He was ground floor. There are floorboards and there’s a hole in the board. If he’s gone down there, he’s maybe kept going. I can’t see snake tracks in the dust but there’s a chance he is three buildings down by now. Totally harmless, of course. Faced with an actual live mouse, I would put my money on the mouse. He’s lifelong domestic and has been gently hugging puppet carrion. He has no venom. But my downstairs neighbour in Chelsea immediately started to believe that he would come up her loo when she was sitting on it even though he never left his tank unsupervised.
Snakes are pretty much the most misrepresented animal that exists. They’ve already got no legs… They were symbols of power in the ancient world. The Ouraeus of the Pharaohs, the infinite Ourobouros, Jormungand, the Caduceus and Hermes etc etc etc. Tiresias watched two snakes fucking and changed gender. Ancient religions held snakes in high regard. But… the Judaic Christian myth has become so extremely familiar and prevalent and in that one it is a snake that represents the baddie in the very first story where the ignorant go in quest of a knowledge that makes the whole of everything possible but destroys their safety. The snake is punished. Poor snake. You will still see stupid Christians on Facebook trying to make out like Caduceus is satanic or somesuch and that’s why vaccines whatever.
Generations of story gives credit to the ophidophobic. Shared fear strengthens it. I’ve spoken before about that urban myth of a snake stretching itself out next to the owner. It’s amazing how many people tell that story, wide eyed, clueless. “It was trying to see if it could get big enough to eat the owner!!” Yeah right. That one was certainly made up by someone who doesn’t know anyone that keeps snakes. You would have to live in a hermetically sealed house, and you’d suffocate. If the snake isn’t in the tank, it goes into a small hole, seeking somewhere dark and warm. It then stays there, or it maybe follows the smell of mices. The biggest risk is only ever to the snake itself as it can get underfoot, into hinges, into the springs of the sofa, and it will.
We tried what we could to get him to reappear. It might be a few days. We just have to hope he hasn’t gone into the sewers somehow and been immediately destroyed by rats. I’ll let you know if he comes back. We think he’s gone through a hole in the floorboards and then under the house. Thankfully the house is having the boards pulled up very very soon…