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December 09, 2016
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Victoria and the boa

The mouse made one final attempt to free himself and caught the woman’s finger in its teeth. The woman screamed and flung the mouse up in the air. It landed on the floor stunned and tried to scamper away. In an instant, the woman kicked at the mouse, her red high-heel connecting with its tiny body and sending it flying.

The mouse smashed into a shoe rack and fell limp to the ground.

Victoria scampered over and poked it with a tiny pink fingernail.

“I think it’s dead,” she said.

“We better get it home quick,” the woman said, nursing her now bleeding finger. “Lucy won’t eat it if it’s cold.”

She crossed to the mouse, picked it up, and flung it down into a shopping bag. She wrapped it tightly and placed it inside her purse. Victoria pushed the cart over to her and together they disappeared into the shoe department.

The spectators that had gathered in a small semi-circle mumbled to themselves and walked away.

I stepped up to the register and handed the cashier my package of DVD covers. She made eye contact with me as she rung up my purchase and said finally, “That was pretty weird.”

“I didn’t know they sold live mice at K-mart,” I said.

“We don’t. It must have been from somewhere else.”

I nodded.

Late that night, I did some Internet research and found that boa constrictors grow to between five and 12 feet and live for 20 to 30 years.

I wondered what would happen when Lucy turned 12, not yet a teenager, and ventured out to find her own food. Not knowing her zipcode, she would become lost, unable to find her way home. The woman and Victoria would desperately try to find her, and stray dogs all over New York City would go missing.

[This column originally ran on October 4, 2006.]