Enthusiastically I bounded down the stairs of our warehouse apartment ready for a morning of retail therapy. I swung open the front door and there it was right in front of me separating me from the outside world. Shit! I froze. I became paralysed. And I was trapped. Oh man! How on earth was I going to coax this critter back into the outside world?
I realise that in this situation many people would simply step over the tiny lizard and get on with their day. Others might pick it up and adoringly stare at its tiny feet and bulging eyes and move it outside. But these were impossible options for me. What if it runs under my foot as I step over it? Or it comes further inside? And picking it up? Unfathomable! Where do I hold it? Imagine if it runs up my sleeve? What if I squeeze it too hard and push its guts out?
Now if Mr Fritz were home he would simply put it outside. He is much more at one with wildlife. He rescued a trapped bird from a fence one night while we were camping. He also plucked a huge green frog from a swimming pool’s pump compartment - I remember my heart nearly stopped when I saw it in his hand.
He’d also picked up this bloody little lizard a couple of times before and relocated it. Once its tail came off. I nearly died. Jesus! That was crap to see. He picked up the tailless lizard, commented on how cute and soft its body was and took it outside. And as for the tail, who knows what happened to that?
But on this fateful day I had to deal with it on my own. I spoke out loud, as if somehow it would understand. “Just get out! C’mon, please!” With a quickened breath and clammy palms I just stood there motionless. Scared, angry and very ashamed.
I then decided to stomp loudly near it hoping it would get a fright and run out. But that didn’t work. ‘Okay, I’ll just have to grab the broom and gently nudge it,’ was my next thought. I was actually impressed that under such duress I managed to come up with a plan B. I grabbed my straw broom, like the ones witches fly on and I held the tip of the handle, stretched out my arm completely to gain maximum distance between us and very slowly and carefully attempted to nudge it. Nothing happened. It just lay there, tormenting me. Playing dead.
I felt a mild hysteria come on. My face reddened and tears started to well up in my eyes. I just couldn’t believe it. Why the heck was I so scared? How could I be so pathetic? Was I born like this? Christ! This is ridiculous. But the most insane part was that I had enough insight to realise that I was behaving completely irrationally yet, I was unable to do anything about it. So I stood there with the front door open, the tiny lizard between me and my shopping spree and I sobbed.
I couldn’t just walk away with the door open and with wildlife inside. Who knows where it could end up? I simply had to keep an eye on it at all times.
So after a good cry, I did the unthinkable. I reached for a can of insect spray. Of course I was never going to spray the lizard, good God, imagine if it just flipped upside down and started writhing as it slowly suffocated. It could have even suddenly run in my direction - right at me - it’s that unpredictability that I find most unnerving about wildlife.
Once, many years ago I witnessed this type of horrendous lizard behaviour. A frill-neck lizard ran right up this guys leg to the top of his shoulder! It mistook him for a tree. Jesus Christ, I’d never seen anything like it! He brushed it off and then it ran up him again and again. So after witnessing such disturbing lizard behaviour I knew that keeping my distance was paramount.
My plan was to spray near the lizard to draw a thick, toxic sludge barrier between us. Surely the lizard would sniff out the chemicals and head straight out the door. But this didn’t work either!
I just stood there is disbelief with my sweaty palms, reddened face and puffed up eyes. I was defeated. By now I had lost track of time, I couldn't even remember what day it was or how long this battle had been raging on for?
The only thing left for me to do was to get fired up, grab the broom, do a ninja scream and sweep the little buggar out.
And then, like a miracle orchestrated by the angels of pity, the tiny lizard took a few steps, appeared to roll its eyes at me and casually sauntered out as I stood there foolishly with my makeshift domestic weapons.