I've always been a sucker for animals. I adopted Gandalf the Grey (my Russian Blue kitty) 7 years ago. Five years ago while filming out on the railroad tracks, I found a 1-pound kitten by herself. I was going to find a home for her. Yeah, you know how that ended up. She's 20 pounds and I live in her home.
Then came Flash the 9-year-old stinky, but lovable Basset Hound.
My ex-husband thought our son needed a lizard a few years ago. I was thinking gecko. They are cute, little. I could handle a gecko. While at the pet store, he proclaimed, "geckos suck." My son repeated, "Yeah geckos suck." So the cute 4-inch bearded dragon came home.
The cute 4-inch bearded dragon soon outgrew his cage. We got Spike a new mansion complete with heated rock and faux rock walls. Very posh. He has grown to about 16 inches. And has quite the tough guy appearance.
Of course, I ended up with the menagerie in the divorce.
Marshall is with his dad this week. Yesterday, I ran a marathon, took a nap, decided to head to Petsmart to get two dozen crickets for Spike. I threw in some meal worms. Why not? It's the holidays.
"Spike, hey buddy. Crickets." No response. Waving cricket habitat. "Hey dude. You hungry?" Eyes are closed and no movement. Tap. Tap. Tap. "Spike....dude..."
A sudden fear of death enters my mind. Did he die? Oh my god. What am I going to tell Marshall. "Hey Marshall, your mommy killed your lizard while you were at your dad's house."
"Spike. Buddy. I got you crickets." Silence. I study the reptile closely for any signs of breathing. There is none. My heart rate suddenly soars. I feel like I'm racing the last .2 miles of that marathon again. But there's no medal for killing your son's lizard.
One more try. "Spike buddy." Pokes lizard with stick. "Dude, please don't be dead." Poke. Poke. Oh my god. He's dead.
Now there's the issue of how to remove the lizard corpse. I will not touch the lizard when it's alive. The thought of removing a dead lizard sent chills down my spine. I texted my ex, "Spike is dead. Need assistance with lizard corpse removal." No response.
Ok, I think the body will be ok until tomorrow. Surely I can find someone who will remove lizard corpse on New Year's Day.
I went to the running club this morning for the annual New Year's Day recovery run and breakfast. Having this conversation with my running buds, Danyah reminds me that the body needs to be disposed of relatively quickly before it starts smelling bad.
A rush of panic comes to my brain. Oh dear god, I'm going to go home and my house is going to smell horrendous. I feverishly start texting anyone who has ever owed me a favor. Then I offered Chelsea (Marshall's babysitter who is home from college) $20 to dispose of the body. She jumped at the chance.
Text from Chelsea: "Wait, it's organs are still inside it's body right."
Chelsea comes over and Spike is in the same position, laying flat, front legs tucked behind him, eyes closed, not breathing. She has the same reaction I do. It freaks her out.
"You're lucky I'm desperate for money," Chelsea explains. I hand Chelsea the tongs and casket (a Tory Burch shoe box).
"Maybe we should get a bigger box," I say.
"I would want to be buried in that box," Chelsea notes. "Maybe we should put some paper towels over him."
I grab a few plastic grocery bags. After a few minutes of waving our arms in the air and squirming at the thought of this thing, I hold the casket and Chelsea throws the plastic bags in the cage.
"I don't think he'll fit in this box. We'll have to fold his tail," I say thinking has riger mortis set in? Is he stiff?
"Squish the bags down with the tongs," I tell Chelsea as she grabs his tail with the tongs, trying to fold it in.
And at that moment, I'm not sure what exactly happened. He may have moved a bit. But both Chelsea and I screamed.
"HIS EYES ARE OPEN!!!!" Chelsea screams.
"OH MY GOD, HE'S STILL ALIVE. WE ALMOST BURIED A LIVE LIZARD."
Quickly she removes the plastic bags from the cage. I got the crickets out and dropped a few in front of him. He ate about 8 or 10 of them, but was not moving to get them.
"He doesn't look good. When do you go back to school," I ask Chelsea.
"January 17. I may go earlier, like the 15th."
In my mothering scolding tone, "You hear that Spike? If you are going to die, you need to do that before January 15th."
Chelsea helped me put my Christmas tree away and I gave her the $20 and said I'm paying her forward.
I'm thinking of changing Spike's name to Jesus. I swear he was dead.