The Forever Lizards
The house that I live in is on a farm in ‘the middle of nowhere’, as people who do not understand space would say. It is a knocked-together farmhouse full of asbestos and home-renovations, and there is a veranda that goes almost all the way around it. The veranda at the back of the house has a gap under one corner of it that leads all the way under the house. That’s where Bob lives.
There are many interesting and fierce creatures out in the desert, occupying the space that was almost solely theirs for a very, very, very long time. One of those creatures, amongst the many other reptiles, is the bob-tail lizard. Bob-tail lizards and blue-tongue lizards are often lumped together as exactly the same animal, but we know the difference. One type of blue-tongue is smoother and a different colour of brown, and our bob-tails have rough scales, a wider head, and they look like tiny, squashed dinosaurs.
Under the corner of the veranda at the back of our house there lives a bob-tail, a proper bob-tail with rough scales and a broad mouth that opens wide when we get too close. He comes out sometimes in the hottest months of summer, crawling from under the veranda to sit in the sun and say hello. We’re careful not to get too close. He isn’t poisonous, but his big wide mouth can latch onto a finger or a toe and not let go. Sometimes we got too close on purpose to make him hiss at us, like on a dare, and his wet blue tongue appears, very dark blue against his light pink upper mouth.
We call him Bob, because what else would we call him? I suppose Bob could be a female, in which case she could be Bobette or Bobella, but it doesn’t really matter. We like Bob; he’s like an old pet that we only see sometimes and never have to feed.
My dad said that he and his brothers and sisters knew about Bob too. He told me exactly where Bob comes out from under the house, what the markings on his scales look like, and where he likes to sit in the sun. I don’t know how long bob-tail lizards live for, but I think Bob might be from the time of the dinosaurs. When my grandpa built the farm house Bob came along and thought it was a wonderful place to keep safe. He eats the rats and mice that try to move in in winter, and he keeps to himself the rest of the time. I think he’ll live under the house forever.
In the ceiling there lives a carpet python we call Wally and he’s a little harder to accommodate…