Those of you who read this blog know that I live in a heavily wooded area in Texas. While I love the sixty-foot trees, the shade and the quiet, there are some disadvantages. My electricity goes out at least once a week and is guaranteed to go down for five hours whenever we have a thunderstorm. I've learned to watch for coyotes when I walk alone at night and to give a wide berth to the dessert-plate-sized tarantulas in my yard.
My cat, Bob, is a prodigious hunter. He's brought home an impressive array of rodents, birds, tarantulas and snakes. His habit is to dump his prey (not always dead) on the welcome mat and then howl until I open the door, expecting me to swoon with appreciation at his gift. More often then not, I wince and slam the door in his face, but he remains undeterred in his devotion.
One morning, about ten days ago, I opened the front door to find Bob guarding a lizard. The poor little thing--who could have posed for Geico's talking gecko ads--was sitting on my front porch next to his severed tail. He was so cute and his tail looked so pitiable that I scooped Bob up and brought him indoors to give the lizard a chance to escape. I kept checking to be sure that he was gone, but the little guy seemed reluctant to abandon his tail. After about an hour, in an effort to help him get a grip and move on, I discarded the tail. Once it was gone, he seemed to overcome his immobility and departed.
Several days passed. One afternoon last week, I realized Bob was sitting in my den staring at the hearth. Recognizing the look, I put him in the hall and closed the double doors to the den to keep him out while I investigated. There, hidden behind my fireplace tools was the little lizard. I recognized him by his lack of a tail and the black spot on his front left leg. Apparently Bob had wearied of the catnip toys I provide and decided to import live entertainment.
I picked the little guy up and, this time, carried him to the backyard. I set him down in the grass, and he scurried off, listing slightly to starboard, toward my woodpile. I returned to confront Bob, who could not bring himself to believe that I had actually stolen his plaything. He spent the rest of the day stalking my fireplace poker.
On Sunday, we had one of our famous spring storms. The thunder and lightning that preceded the deluge were impressive. I looked out the French door to see if it was raining yet and realized Bob had re-captured "my" lizard, whom I was beginning to think of as "Gecko." By now, the little guy had a stump of a new tail growing out.
Once more I came to the rescue, parting victim and torturer. Gecko scrambled away, the starboard list more prominent than before. One had to admire his stamina if not his survival instincts.
Bob meanwhile threw a major hissy fit. He flung himself against the French door, hissing and howling his displeasure. Only the advent of the storm (and the subsequent power outage) distracted him from his wrath.
That brings us to today. I worked through the night and did not go to bed until this morning at 5:00 AM. I let the cats out so they wouldn't disturb my rest.
At 11:00, I woke up, fixed myself a bowl of cereal and fruit and went out on the backyard patio to eat it only to find Bob and Gecko under my table.
Irritated by Gecko's stupidity, I picked him up and headed around the house to my neighbor Linda's. Along the way, I berated the lizard. "I'm beginning to think you shouldn't be allowed to contribute to the gene pool. Don't you learn?"
Gecko is now an official member of the Witless Protection Program. I deposited him in my neighbor's yard with admonitions to stay off my property.
My critique partner Jeanne Laws has her money on Bob in this duel of feline versus lizard. We'll see.