The drive home was a blur... I had even forgotten to clean up my paints in my office. And the back seat was empty of the artwork that usually occupied it. I never even noticed. My dinner that night was quick and sparse. I skipped washing the dishes and went right to bed.
I slept like a log. My headache was gone by morning and I was ready to start my day fresh. I showered... ate breakfast... and was even ready before it was time to leave. As I was getting my stuff together for the day I went to grab the painting I usually take to work and it wasn't where I thought it was. It was then that I realized that I hadn't remembered to bringing it home. If anything happened to that painting I would be heartbroken. I had been working on it for months and I didn't want it to get ruined.
This was the first time in months I made it to work in record time. I HAD to find that painting. As I entered my office I could see my painting was on the floor, and to my surprise BOA was sitting on top of it stretched across like she didn't have a care in the world. The sun’s rays were warming her and the painting. She knew me but I wasn't going to take any chances with capturing her. I went and got my snake tongs and a net then got her cage ready in the reptile room.
Boa was surprisingly cooperative. Sitting in the sun had mellowed her. She slithered into the net with a little coaxing from the tongs. As she did she left a present all over my painting... her skin. She had molted over night. The painting was ruined. My heart sank. I would try and fix it later but for now I needed to get Boa back in her cage. I lifted the painting back on its easel and grabbed the constrictor and headed for the reptile room.
John greeted me at the door. "Good morning professor," he bellowed. "I just came to check and make sure ALL the animals were in their cages from last night. I had this sinking feeling like I forgot one." I showed him the net with Boa in it. "Oh... I guess my feeling was right. Where'd you find her? I checked all over the room last night and I don't remember even seeing her."
"She was in my office. She must have gotten out when the door was open. We were so busy with the other animals that we didn't see her go through the door," I said.
"Oh... professor...I'm glad she is ok. Hope she didn't cause any trouble." I grumbled as John grabbed the end of the net and helped me lift her into her cage. Then he gave her some food and we closed the lid... tight.
"She knocked the painting I was working on to the floor. I found her this morning laying across it in a sunbeam. She shed her skin last night and left me her DNA all over my painting. It is ruined." The words were painful to say. I worked for months on that painting and to see it all gone in one night was more than I could bare. "I'll see if I can salvage it on my lunch hour but for now we have work to do."
"I'm sorry professor... I didn't mean to forget to put her in her cage. There was just soooo much going on last night that it slipped my mind. I hope the painting isn't ruined to badly." I could tell he was truly sorry. I waved him on that it would be ok and we continued with our chores for the day. I would be grateful for my lunch hour and some peace and quiet. John only worked a half day on Saturdays and he would be gone by my lunch time. Thank God for Saturdays. I smiled to myself and got back to work.
The morning dragged on. All I could think about was my ruined painting. When lunch finally arrived I was left alone in my office to access the painting damage. The snake skin was stuck to the painting really good. The paint was almost dry. I had waited too long to try and remove it. I tried picking and pulling at the skin but it either stuck solid or shattered to a zillion pieces as I pulled it way from the paint.
I was hard at work trying to figure out HOW to remove the snakeskin when the owner of the zoo popped into my office. The last thing I needed was company but I couldn't very well tell him to go away.
"Hi Mr. Bobble," I greeted him. "Please don't mind me, we had a little accident last night and one of the snakes got out and shed her skin all over my painting. It is ruined. I'm trying to access the damage." He nodded back to me his approval. He was just about to say something to me when John came in the room. I thought he had left for the day. "Hi Mr. Bobble... It's great to see you. I forgot my hat," he said to me as he reached for it off the chair. He glanced up at the painting. "Hey... that's a neat painting Professor! Is that the one that Boa shed her skin on?"
"Yes... It is totally ruined. I can't get the skin off no matter what I do and the paint is almost dry," I told him.
"I'm sorry professor... this is all my fault!" He lowered his head. "Maybe I can help." He proceeded to pick up some tweezers. Then stopped. "Ya know professor. I rather like it with the snake skin. It gives it a little zip! Take a step back here." We moved off a few feet away from the painting.
Mr. Bobble joined us and looked at the painting with eyes gleaming. "This is JUST what the zoo needs for our auction," he exclaimed.
"What auction," John and I asked looking at him puzzled?
"As you know the zoo has been in trouble, financially, for a while now. We need to find other ways to advertise and make money. I came in here to ask you if you had a painting to donate to an auction we will be having and I think THIS painting will do nicely. It is PART of the zoo now. That snake skin adds that little bit of oomph to make it sell big I think." He stopped talking long enough for me to think. "My painting... in an auction?" The thought was new to me. I'd never sold my work before. I wouldn't even know what to ask for it. I looked at the painting.
"Do it professor... I bet it sells the highest of all the stuff at the auction combined." John was excited.
"I guess it's a good thing I couldn't get the skin off," I said. "Now I just need to shape it a bit to make it look like it BELONGS in the painting. And then find a way to seal the skin itself. It wouldn't do to have it fall apart before the auction." I smiled. This was exciting... Over night Boa had turned a tragic incident into a money making venture. I hoped... fingers crossed.