IN ‘HER SILENT SHADOW‘ COLLECTION
She tucked her hair behind her ear, opened the car door and sat behind the wheel, simultaneously resting her purse on the passenger seat. Life for Belinda couldn’t get any better and to compliment her upbeat mood, she decided she’d listen to some rock music during the drive over to her friend, Marva’s house. After starting the car, she reached forward to switch on the radio, when she thought she saw something move on the floorboard of the front passenger side. Tilting her head, she zoomed in on the floor and spotted a long, gray snake slithering forward from under the seat. Then, her peripheral vision immediately caught something in the seat next to her—another snake, almost identical, was crawling over her purse. With her heart pounding and a shrilling scream stuck inside her throat, without a moment to spare, she yanked open the car door and got out, slamming it shut behind her. It was then that the scream finally escaped and, in a flash, Cindy and Wanda appeared in the doorway of the parlor.
“What’s the matter?” Cindy was concerned.
“Snakes! Snakes are in my car!” Belinda was standing a good ten feet away from her car.
“What?” Cindy’s eyes widened with shock.
“I found snakes in my frigging car!” she repeated.
Cindy hurried over to her. “How did they get in there?” she asked.
“How the hell am I supposed to know? I just want them out!”
Wanda was now standing on the front steps looking out at Belinda with a subtle smile on her face. She always wanted to see the overgrown baby suffer.
“Wanda! Go get Jimmy from the back!” Cindy exclaimed. “He’ll get them out.”
“Your maintenance guy?” Belinda asked Cindy.
“Yeah. He’s not scared of anything. Bravest man I know—even braver than Charlie.”
Jimmy arrived in the parking lot shortly thereafter with a white bucket in one hand and a long tree limb in the other.
“I hear there’s snakes in your car, lady,” he said to Belinda.
Jimmy was a slim, straggly-haired man in his early fifties, the sight of which would make some people cringe with distrust, particularly if he appeared from out of nowhere on a dark, deserted road. Yet, he was the typical example of why one should never judge a book by its cover. Though he could pass for being homeless, the man had amassed a decent fortune through hard work on a miniscule salary over the course of three decades. He’d been working for Cindy for the past five years after retiring from a government department as a maintenance worker.
“Yeah! They’re in there!” Belinda pointed, rather annoyingly.
“Well, let’s go get ‘em out then!”
“Let’s?” Belinda gave him a menacing stare.
He backed off towards the car. “I meant me.”
He peered through the driver’s side window first, then moved over to the back door.
“Wow! You surely have a whole community of snakes in there!”
“You call two a community?” Belinda scoffed.
With his head pressed against the window, Jimmy said, “I ain’t no mathematician, but I know how to count. You’ve got at least a dozen slitherers in here. Come see for yourself.”
Alarmed, Belinda glanced at Cindy, while Wanda continued observing from the front of the parlor.
“Are you kidding me?” Belinda asked.
Cindy walked over to the car and looked through the window next to where Jimmy was.
“He’s not kidding, B,” she said. “They’re crawling all over your car, even the back seat.”
Belinda suddenly felt faint; her heart beating wildly.
She went over and looked through the front window. “My God!” she whispered.
“Anyway, ladies. Now that you’ve seen what we’re working with, let me get these good ole boys outta here and back into the bushes where they belong.”
Belinda quickly returned to her previous spot and Cindy joined her. Jimmy put his bucket down near the tire and opened the back door. He then reached inside with his tree branch and calmly extracted the snakes one by one, dropping them into the bucket. Belinda inwardly squirmed at the sight of the reptiles and even turned away for a while as Jimmy proceeded.
“These boys are harmless, little lady,” he said as he peeked under the seats to ensure he’d gotten all out.
“What do you mean by harmless?” Belinda said, looking his way again.
“These are hognose snakes, if I’m lookin’ right. They wouldn’t have done nothin’ to you other than give you a good scare by just being themselves.” He grinned.
“What’s so funny?” She glared at him.
“You must’ve really pissed someone off for them to put snakes in your car. You’re lucky they didn’t choose a rattler or some other kind that wouldda done you in nice and good.”
He shut the car doors, picked up the bucket full of snakes and headed to the backyard.
“You sure you got them all out?” Belinda hollered.
“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have closed your car doors, lady.”
“Thank you, Jimmy!” Cindy called out behind him.
Continuing on, he raised his left hand. “Welcome!”
Wanda shook her head.
“Are you okay?” Cindy rested her hand on Belinda’s arm.
“No! I’m not okay!”
“Maybe you should call someone to come meet you…”
“No, I can drive. I hate to go back inside that car, but I can.”
“I hope you find out who did this, B. It’s a terrible thing they’ve done. You could’ve ended up in an accident if you didn’t spot them before you drove off,” Cindy said.
Belinda sighed heavily. “I have no idea who would be stupid enough to do this. I… I thought I locked my car.”
Cindy gave her a reprimanding look. “We all know you hardly ever lock your car in the daytime, B. You were easy prey.”
“I’d better go now; I’ll see you later, Cindy.” She headed for the car, when suddenly, she stopped in her tracks. “Wait! Get Jimmy back here!”
“What’s the matter?” Cindy asked.
“He didn’t check the bloody trunk!”
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