He picked up a nearby can and threw it at the wall. It clunked, ricocheted and landed on the floor; one of its corners was bent. Victor smiled. He gathered up eight cans in his arm, stood up and pelted the wall with them. Each can bounced off, half-crushed.
“Ha!” he said. “Stupid Spam. And here’s what I think of your Brussels sprouts—” he picked up the bowl and cocked his arm to hurl it, but then paused, and set the bowl down. Victor wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. “Come on. Don’t quit.”
He nodded, and brushed himself off. “You almost got me,” he called. “But it’s going to take a lot more than Spam and sprouts to break me. You hear that? I took out your blind man and your Russian general. You know what? I think I might stick around and kick some more arse.” He waited but no response came. “All right then,” he said, shoulders back. “A Furbank never quits.”
Victor went to the sink and took a coffee mug from the cupboard above it. He held the mug under the spout and turned the tap. The plumbing grumbled and shook, and Victor listened for the sound of bees. None came. Instead, a slow trickle of water escaped the spout and collected in the mug.
“This will take forever,” said Victor, as he banged the shiny, retro tapware.
He turned the tap on full, but there was no change to the water pressure. A small, white blob emerged and began descending from the spout like toothpaste from its tube.
“Well there’s the problem. Something’s blocking the pipes.”
As the white substance lowered from the spout, it turned and twisted, defying gravity. It grew longer, and Victor noticed two red spots near the bottom.
“Well, how do you like that?” he said
A tiny forked tongue flicked at its end. Victor set the mug on the bench, and then moved his right hand steadily down from the spout, and gripped the white substance near its end, pinching it firmly between his thumb and fingers. Positioning his left hand at the spout, he drew the substance out entirely; it wrapped its hind half around his left forearm.
Victor examined the three-foot long python he was holding—pale and thin, and its head was the size of his thumb. It was placid—at least for the moment—but still enough to give the average person a fright. Victor released the snake into the sink; it wriggled a little but seemed content enough. He watched it for a minute, oblivious to everything else.
“I’ve never seen one like this before,” he said. “Mick would like it.”
(Michael Furbank was Victor’s cousin. He kept pet reptiles, and had showed Victor how to handle snakes.)
Victor took the mug and filled it: the water flowed freely without the snake clogging the spout. He turned off the tap, emptied the mug in one thirsty gulp and went to refill it. Turning the tap on again, the water dribbled from the spout as another white blob squirmed out. Victor pulled the second albino python from the plumbing and filled the mug. Again he drank and then turned off the water. Two snakes now slithered in knots in the sink. Victor watched them and scratched his cheek.
“I guess that’s the curse,” he said, looking around. “There’s nothing else in the room—just snakes.” He shrugged. “Oh well, that’s an easy fix.”
He carefully separated the entwined reptiles, left one in the sink and took the other in his hands. With both hands gripping the snake’s neck, he brought it close to his chest and lifted his elbows as if he was about to wrench apart a difficult-to-open bag of chips. The snake, apparently unaware of its impending bisection, curled its tail in a casual spiral.
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