Dying Lizard by Terry Allen Green

The Skipper yells at Gilligan and you know it can’t be good, but you’re okay with it because getting off the island is the last thing you want to see happen. In the background, the Major drops a duffel bag by the door as Sis goes for a new hula-hoop record in the front yard. Damn, she’s good, but the glare through the window interferes with the television and you’ll miss the funny chase through the lagoon unless you act fast.

“Mind your manners and listen to your mother,” orders the Major, his dress greens perfectly pressed and creased, shoulder epaulets polished and shoes shined. You know it, too. You put the spit on those suckers an hour ago and used half a can of Brasso on the metal, a crisp dollar bill the proof of your labor—your contribution to the war effort.

The Major tousles your hair and you miss the cannibals as they size Gilligan up for a meal. Not much to eat there, boys, but those grass skirts sure are a riot and the castaways will need a small miracle to get out of this mess.

Mother is stoic but to you she just looks mad, like a woman who missed the annual clearance sale at J.C. Penny’s. Maybe next year. “Say goodbye to your father,” she says in a voice that reminds you of third grade when you learned that Mrs. Bonham was a man.

Through the window, Sis blows the record and is crying, the hula-hoop tottering at her feet. The Major sweeps in and consoles her in the nick of time. An officer and a gentleman. Mother leans into the doorway, smoking a Pall-Mall as she picks tobacco off her tongue and waves goodbye. To look at her, you might think the Major was going out for a jog.

A car motors up to the curb and you run outside. The Major’s driver heaves the duffel bag into the trunk and gives you a wink. “Don’t forget to clean your room,” says the Major with a smile as he gets into the car. You close your eyes and burn the image of his departure into your brain. You imagine the war he’ll soon be fighting and say a silent prayer for his safe return. How it all seems like an episode of a TV show you never get to watch. Eyes open and cut to commercial. The car drives away and disappears from the complex.

In a cactus bed you see movement, the scurry of a creature. Impulse puts a rock in your hand and your nine-year-old eyes peel to the sand. A step and another movement raises your arm and there it is—a reptile no bigger than your finger scuttling across the desert floor. It’s not the downward motion of your arm or the follow-through that kills it, but misdirection. The lizard runs beneath the flying stone and the two are drawn together in a perfectly timed accident; a fatal symphony of muscle and matter.

But the creature doesn’t die right away. It gasps for air, blood oozing from its belly, its eyes frozen in the back of its head. You approach and it doesn’t know that you are the cause of its death; it doesn’t know what death is. You begin to cry. Pain runs through your body. It’s not a pain you recognize and as the dying lizard takes its last breath of life, you look for an escape. No funny chase scenes—no cinematic hijinks can rescue you… you’re alone on the island.

Back inside the apartment, Mother, her face made up like one of Sis’s Barbie dolls, opens the freezer door and puts a package of minute steaks on the counter. “I’m going out for a few hours,” she says. “You don’t have to wait for these to thaw out—you can cook them frozen right in the pan.”

Meanwhile, the Skipper frees his little buddy and they run through the jungle as the clueless cannibals dance around a large pot of boiling water. Hilarious.

Terry Allen Green is 63, a filmmaker by profession, living in the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin. His movies have been released worldwide in 38 countries. He spends his time wrangling his five cats and writing his first novel.

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