“What was it for?” I said. “What did you do with the snake poop?”
“There was a professor at Miami. In the biology department. A herpetologist. He agreed to take a look at it.”
“He felt confident it was not the fecal matter of a boa constrictor.”
“So it was an alligator?”
“It was a python.”
“A python? Don’t pythons get really big?”
My grandfather shrugged. The shrug said, Define big. It said, Compared to an ankylosaurus? Not so big.
“Can they get big enough to eat a cat?”
He stuck out his tongue once, twice. I handed him a mug of apple juice and he took a measured sip.
“A python can swallow a deer,” he said.
“A cat? To a python? Like a handful of nuts.”
I resisted the urge to point out that snakes did not have hands.
“So, last year,” I said, “like, right after I visited you? And we watched that PBS thing about exotic pets taking over the Everglades? You basically went out into the jungle. And started hunting a python.”
Another shrug: It passed the time.
“So did you use one of those, like, noose-on-a-stick things they had?” I mimed the thrust-and-tug action of the snare tool a park ranger on the program had employed to bag a boa constrictor. “I had no interest in capturing him,” my grandfather said. “I wanted to kill him.”
“With a gun?”
My grandfather screwed the left side of his face into the comedic half-mask he adopted when he was trying to conceal his disappointment in you.
“Maybe you should be taking notes,” he said. He handed back the mug of apple juice. “I had a snake hammer. Why would I need a gun?”