The Quick and the Dead, Inside and Out
Living in a suburb of Ft. Worth I don’t get to see a lot of wildlife other than the unfortunate skunk, opossum, or raccoon that has been rendered road kill. Among the living are various species of birds and (mostly) harmless bugs—discounting the West Nile virus-carrying mosquito, that is. Oh, and the malevolent neighborhood cat whom I’ve dubbed Sylvester, that black-and-white fiend who invaded my house some time back, an encounter that landed me at the local clinic for a tetanus shot and some antibiotics. (Read “Cat-A-Strophic Capers,” my blog postings of April 2 and 9, 2012.) I still see him from time to time, skulking around the neighborhood, looking to inflict even more bodily harm on some other unsuspecting victim.
On those infrequent occasions when I finally resign myself to cleaning house, I’ll find another, less intimidating feral critter that has somehow made his way inside, probably through the pet door. It’s a little green lizard, not unlike the affable Geico Gecko hawking insurance on TV. Usually by the time I find him—under a chair, behind the sofa, or in the pantry—he’s long since lost his green hue and turned into a dusky brown, mostly dried up husk of his former self. Often he’s minus his long, sinewy tail, no doubt the result of a close encounter with the household cat. Having learned to take this sort of thing in stride, I gingerly collect the little carcass in some tissue and drop him into the waste basket under the kitchen sink. That’s the usual scenario anyway.
Blinds, Bowls, and Broomsticks
Recently, though, I encountered one of these guys in living flesh. I was raising one of the living room blinds to let in some sun for one of my few live plants still hanging in there. Suddenly—Plop!—little Geico fell from above but broke his fall by grasping the blind just inches from my face. “Don’t move,” I ordered and ran to fetch a bowl from the kitchen. (My plan: to cover him with the bowl, slide a magazine underneath, and carry him outside.) Wise to my plan, however, the little guy hopped and scurried about, disappearing who knows where? The mutt, looking goofy and useless, stood by, watching as the wily reptile made a monkey out of me. Since it was now almost time to leave for Mass, I gave up the hunt.
Two days later I spotted him again, still alive, practically where I saw him the first time. “I’m just trying to save your life,” I told him. “Don’t move.” I got a broom and gave chase, only to be outmaneuvered again. Round two: Lizard still ahead.
The next day I saw my green nemesis resting on the back of a chair, probably thinking he was blending in with the Jacobean print leaves of the fabric. “No so, my little Anolis carolinensis,” I said in my best “Wicked Witch of the West”* impression. (Well, maybe not quite those words.) Like her, though, I grabbed my broom again and started swishing and sweeping that pesky critter off the chair and toward the open door. Finally, success! He was outside and lying in the grass next to the curve in the driveway. I gave him a couple more bumps with the broom and he burrowed deeper into the grass.
Greasy, Grimy Geico Guts?
Soon after, I was in my car backing out of my garage on my way to Dallas. The driveway curves away from the garage so I made the little jog to the right, then straightened out again to avoid my neighbor’s car parked in our shared, double driveway. Then—Uh, oh. Oh, no. Oh, no! I had over-corrected and was backing over the grass next to my house. The lizard! Little Geico! Oh, no! I had tried so hard to save this tiny fellow and now he’s just so much ant fodder. I’ve killed him! Oh, the inhumanity! I could only console myself that it was over quickly; he never knew what hit him. (I hope.) Besides, it’s better than a slow death by starvation indoors or—Horrors!—being eaten alive by that frightful cat. Right? Right??!!
After returning from Dallas I warily inspected the grassy spot (final resting place?) where I’d last seen my former house guest. What’s this? No blood. No guts. He’s not there! I hadn’t squished him after all. He must have taken off before I backed out of the garage. Either that or he’s tire tread filler. No, no. I’m not going to look there. I prefer to believe he’s happily munching on a bug somewhere, glad to be alive. If not, for his family’s sake, I hope he was up to date on his premiums with the Geico folks.
© 2012, The Wit’s End Scribbler
*Margaret Hamilton’s character in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.