Every great story begins with a snake.

It seemed that the pet shop called “Scruffs” in Hayward’s Heath High Street had been there forever. Sometimes, Garry thought some of the pets had been in there slowly ageing dying and finally decomposing over the years.

The proprietor too had aged from when Garry went in the shop to buy his first snake when he was 12 years old. Then so had Garry aged, from boy to man.

Over the years, he had acquired various pets, ranging from rats, snakes, ferrets, chameleons and lizards. But his interest in snakes had never wavered. They were his favourite pet and he purchased all of them from this shop.

His latest purchase had been an Emerald tree boa. It had cost him an absolute fortune, and if were not for the fact that he had lost a large amount of money on the horses the previous day he would have brought two.

His emerald green boa was a beauty. It was dark emerald green with white zigzag markings like lightning bolts down its back.  Garry was convinced that already Jade, as he had called her, already liked having her yellow belly caressed.

The good thing about Jade was she didn’t eat as much as Harry the reticulated python and Freddie the Indian python. She sure was a good investment.

Immediately when his latest girlfriend saw it, she wanted one. “Wow she is beautiful. I want one.”

Garry was at the stage in his new relationship that when he said, “Anything for you.” He meant it. That would change as the months went on, it always did. But he knew right now, the gift of a snake would set him up with brownies points.

He was sure this girl was the one. No woman had come this close to him. And they many things in common, including their mutual love of snakes.

Shame he had lost on the horses. He didn’t have the spare cash, but he was sure he would come up with something.

A few days later strolling down the high street, he passed Scruffs pet shop. The young assistant Bradley was sweeping up shards of glass from the pavement. A police tape stuck round the broken front window.

Garry glanced at the scene. Bradly raised his head up and said “Hi, Garry. How’s it going?”

“Better for me then you guys. What happened?”

“We had a break in last night. Bastards totally messed the place up.”

Garry frowned. “Anything stolen?”

“Yes.” Bradly nodded. “Some of the snakes. Including our Emerald Green Boa.”

“Oh dear. I was planning on buying that one for my new girlfriend.” Garry replied.

“Oh well out of luck now buddy. It will be some time before we get some more in. Amir just found out he hadn’t updated the insurance correctly. £3,000 worth of stock not covered. They took the snakes.  Oh and some mice to feed them with, I guess,”

“Oh well, least they won’t go hungry then. Disappointing though, she would have loved one of them to add to her collection.”

Garry carried on walking heading into the bookies further down road.

A few days later as he walked past the pet shop, he saw that the glaziers were installing a new window. Amir the proprietor came out of the doorway and said. “Aah Garry I’m glad I saw you. You heard about my break in didn’t you?”

“Yes I did. Sorry to hear that the snakes were stolen. I was hoping to buy the other Green tree boa for my latest girlfriend.”

“That would have been great. But listen Crime Watch are doing a clip on their show. They wanted to know what the snakes were. And when I them about the emerald tree boa and how rare they were. They are trying to find one to use on the show, I immediately thought of you. I was going to ring you today. Would you consider taking your snake on the programme?  So that if anyone is trying to sell one, people may stop and think that it may be stolen and ring the police.

That way we may be able to get my snakes back. I won’t have lost so much. They wrecked the place when they broke in.”

Garry hesitated before replying. Eventually saying, “Well, I guess that would be OK.  I’m not driving at the moment. How will I get her to the studio? And I would have to take a day off work.”

Amir put his hand up to stop all the doubts Garry was spouting, “Garry, no problem they will arrange all that and I am sure they will reimburse you for any expenses incurred having to take time off work. We are talking about the bloody BBC.”

Garry’s mind began to work overtime. There was a chance of making some money from this, of that he was sure. Suddenly he smiled at Amir. “Yes of course Amir, Anything to help you out. Just let me know when and what I need to do.”

Garry ambled off with a grin on his face. Jade was going to be a TV star. All he had to do was make sure his face wasn’t seen on TV. Especially Crime Watch. That would make Dawn laugh. She was convinced he was an ex con. She couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, he was still in the thieving business.

The BBC contacted him a couple of days later. Spoke to him about the arrangements to pick him up. He discussed how they were going to transport Jade and told him the pickup time.

Promptly the BBC transport pulled up outside his house and drove him and Jade to the BBC.

When he arrived at the studio, he was taken into to the waiting lounge where there was a selection of drinks and snack on display.

“Help yourself Mr Smart. We won’t be long. And make yourself comfortable.”

Garry enjoyed his day at the BBC, made full use of all the facilities provided. He was relieved to know his face would not be on Crime Watch, just his snake.

When he was dropped off home later that day, he carefully put the snake back in her tank and smiled. Easy money he mused.

He walked over to the second tank and opened up the top and peered in. “Hello Jade. Your sister was a star today. You would have been very proud of her.”

Two snakes for the price of one. What a touch!

Dawn will love hers. She will definitely be over the over the moon he mused. His new babe’s face will light up with a huge smile. That gave him a warm feeling inside, happy girlfriend, happy Garry.

He just needed to wait a few months before he took it over to her as a gift. By then people would have forgotten about the theft of the emerald tree boa from Hayward’s Heath pet shop. Of that, he was sure. There were far worse crimes going on in this country.

How funny was that? What did Jeremy Vine say precisely? Oh, yes that was it. “Not the snake that was stolen but one very much like it.” Said that on national TV he did. It must be true. Not the stolen snake but one very much like it.

The police officer was ever so polite to him. “Thank you for bringing your snake in for us Mr Smart.” Then he shook his hand. “I am sure it well help jog people’s memories. Your snake really is very striking. Memorable for its markings. Each one is different isn’t it?”

That really was a turn up for the books. Normally the cops were handcuffing his hands behind his back. That was the only shaking of hands going on. Who would have believed it, the police thanking Garry Smart for his efforts to catch a thief?

Garry smiled to himself as he dangled a mouse over Jades tank later that night. A thief to catch a thief?  Well no let’s hope not in this case. Jades head reared up and gently took the mouse from Garry’s hand.

Garry’s smile seemed to take on the image of the snake. It seemed for a moment to be eternal.


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