Mike McCurtain's nephew dies of a poisonous snake bite during a backpacking trip through the Himalayas. His daughter Claire becomes terrified of succumbing to the same fate. Mike checks under her bed every night to be sure there aren't any there. He checks the car before she gets in and then looks underneath it before she gets out. She makes a checklist for him to go through daily so that she knows by the certainty of a dozen initialed boxes that the house is snake free.
Mike had a recurring dream of a big snowly plot of land that he had to drive around in for a long time without getting anywhere. The car was noisy and it was crowded in the backseat and all he could see out the window was white. Sometimes they would reach a house and Mike would go in alone and there would be a woman inside who didn't like him. He'd look out the back window wind blowing cold on him, and think that he needed to replace that window that his father had broken. The car's engine made a chalky grinding sound like two pieces of broken glass rubbing together and when he heard it he knew he had to go.
His temper got short sometime and he lost it at home once because they asked him to take a night off for Claire's play. He had a case to work, though it actually wasn't his but a different detective and he was working on the case as a favor. He shouted, nothing horrible, but his raised voice was unusual in the house. Claire told him he was being unreasonable and he told her there was a snake under her chair.