A couple weeks ago I came home and there was a lizard in the hallway. Little one– one of the brown lizards that are always crawling on the walls of my apartment building. I tried to catch him; scoop him up with a pizza delivery menu, because I figured my cat would get him and torture him to death. But he was too quick. He scampered under my dresser. Which, OK. If he’s fast enough to get away from me, maybe he’s fast enough to get away from the cat. Now I have a lizard in my house.
I saw him a couple times after that– he’d come out into the bathroom where there are spiders and silverfish and moths and stuff, presumably to hunt. I liked this idea, of having a lizard in my house. I liked that there were adequate insects in the place to feed him. He was part of the household. You know. Doing an important task. Taking care of harmful pests.
One day my fake girlfriend was over; I had gone to work, and she saw the lizard. He got entangled in a pair of panties that were on the floor– I had assumed they were hers. She joked that the lizard was a pervert. So the lizard became kind of a mascot– I would send her pictures of him. We named him “Grady ” after Jessica Fletcher’s accountant nephew who was always getting in trouble on MURDER, SHE WROTE. Grady the lizard.
This weekend I went to open my sliding door and I noticed that it was giving me resistance. I had to give it a little force to get it open. Well, out from the other side, from under the door on the little metal track, Grady scampered out. I was excited to see him at first but when I looked closer his leg had been crushed– he had been sitting under the door. His leg was hanging off by a little strip of skin. He was able to move– he got away from me and got back under the door. But I felt horrible. I had crushed Grady’s leg. I worried that he would never come out and just die under there. Selfishly, I worried he would smell, but mostly I just felt awful at crushing this awesome lizard.
Eventually he came out. And I– I wanted to catch him. I knew he had little chance as a three legged lizard, and I figured I would give him an opportunity to heal where there wasn’t going to be dust and shit glomming onto his wounds. Plus maybe he was one of those lizards who can grow limbs back. So I managed to catch him in a fish net and put him into a little acrylic fish tank I had hurriedly emptied out and cleaned. I put some driftwood in there so he would have something to hide behind, and a little dish of water. And he was sitting on the wood; looked like he was doing fine. He moved to hang upside down on the back side of a log when the sun hit the tank and this was a hopeful sign. He is seeking the ideal temperature. Great. Couple days, his leg will have healed; the strip of scales missing from his lower belly will have grown back. When his system has adequately recovered from trauma I will start throwing moths and flies and crickets in there, giving him the nutrients he needs to restore himself. Then I will give him the choice of being free. Stay in the tank where it’s cushy or strike out on your own as a three legged lizard. It sucks that it had to happen this way, but now Grady can be my pet for a little bit.
But he died. He was kind of flopping around, falling off the log and apparently not able to right himself, and I thought it might be that he didn’t know the plexiglass was solid, or he was trying to get closer to the desk lamp that was next to his tank for heat. But he was dead. His tiny little lungs had stopped pumping. Whatever organ damage was done by the door running over his midsection had caught up to him.
I buried him this morning, near a treee under a little pile of loose dirt. Not too deep; something will probably dig him up and eat him. But God bless you Grady, and Godspeed. You were an awesome lizard.