He feeds Gucci rabbits, but keeps him away from the toy dogs he trains for work.
“Snake behavior,” the man said as the 12-foot yellow python curled heavily around his neck and explored the air. “If something’s too big for them to eat, he just won’t touch it.”
He said it to reassure a woman Gucci wouldn’t go after her dog. The dog took a four-legged step back and cocked its head to stare confusedly at the yellow, beady-eyed, tongue flickering creature.
“I keep him from some of the smaller dogs,” the man said, less reassuringly.
The man was tall, thin and young. He was black, with tattoos peeking from under the T-shirt he wore advertising the dog training center.
The woman, I and her very confused dog were in a crowd of about five or so drawn by the site of the long, yellow Burmese python in a stretch lush and ritzy even by Ravenswood standards.
Gucci moved, well, like a fat, happy snake. Head and body squirming and waving so unblinking, locked eyes could get a better view. A flickering ribbon of tongue waggling from an angular head to taste the air. Liquid motion, different parts of the creature stretching and coiling at any moment.
And that yellow! That beautiful, unreal mustard-and-white dapple that marks an albino Burmese python.
The man lifted Gucci over his head to put him down on the sidewalk. He shrugged after he did so to stretch out his own shoulders after the heavy weight.
Gucci started moving away from the small crowd, sliding like electric silk across the pavement, A woman who had been taking photographs with her phone leaned over and petted his tail. He didn’t respond one way or the other, just kept tasting the air and heading north.
“My other snake’s just a baby, but he’s bigger,” the man said, taking a step alongside the retreating snake to make sure Gucci didn’t get too far. “18 feet.”
Some mild, idle questions from the small crowd. Chit-chat. Snake trivia. A mother and daughter asking us to move so they could keep walking their bikes up the sidewalk.
“I just brought him out to stretch him out,” the man said, picking up the yellow snake and hoisting it back around his neck. “He’s been sleeping in my car all day.”
“He likes the heat?” a woman asked.
“He loves the heat,” the man said, walking Gucci back to his car.
Gucci had to go. A dog the man was to train had arrived. It was a small one.