Something in the Water or the Air
By Ian Sanquist
I say Edith’s name. Then I say it again. She mumbles what is it? She’s half-asleep. I turn on the light. I say someone is breaking in the house. She says it’s probably nothing, or maybe it’s the snake. She says she’d been playing with our python before she went to bed, and she can’t remember if she locked the cage.
I go downstairs with a baseball bat. I don’t have time to find my slippers. I call out for the coward, I say you chickenshit, I say show yourself like a man. Edith puts her hand on my shoulder. I tell her to call the cops. She says calm down. She says I’ve been dreaming. I say I don’t dream anymore, I know what I heard. She says calm down. She pours a glass of water. She sits on the sofa and puts the television on.
I look in every corner of the house. The snake is in her cage. She puts her tongue out when I stand over her enclosure. Her body is long and smooth and powerful. I feel an erection stirring in my shorts. I feel no shame for this. Everyone knows that a snake is a sensual creature. Everyone knows that it was fate for Eve to be tempted.
I go outside. It’s quiet in the yard. It’s quiet next door, their lights are all out. Except the porch light. The thief must have run away when he heard me. He must have been scared.
I go inside and sit next to Edith on the sofa and look at the television. The man is talking about a new disease, something supposed to kill half the population in less than forty years, something in the water or the air. I look at the glass Edith is drinking from. Sometimes I wonder. I say to Edith if I caught that man breaking in our house, I’d smash his goddamn teeth with my baseball bat. She says calm down. She sips her water. She says we should go back to bed. I say I don’t feel tired now. She says I should take a sleeping pill, then I’ll calm down. I say I don’t want to calm down. I say I feel fine. She says calm down.
I go to the snake’s cage and open it. Edith says don’t bother our python, she’s sleeping, but I know that’s not true because her eyes are open and she’s putting out her tongue. I pick her up and carry her to the sofa. She slithers through my arms. What a sensual creature. I put her between Edith and me. I stroke her belly. She puts out her tongue. I ask Edith if she thinks we could train our python to eat a man who was breaking into our house. Edith says she supposes anything is possible, although we’d probably have to start by feeding the snake a child. I say I know where we could find a child or two. I say I could get one tomorrow at the wading pool at the park. Edith sighs. She sips her water. She says calm down. She sips her water. She says she won’t bail me out next time I fuck up.