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How Lizard Lenny Svaed My Life
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How Lizard Lenny Svaed My Life
A woman escapes life under the El thanks to a man called Lizard Lenny
[1,255 words]
Liilia Morrison
Writer and artist living in South Florida
[August 2016]
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How Lizard Lenny Svaed My Life
Liilia Morrison

'Never again would they dare to call me insane.' I read that in a book once. It was about a guy who turned into a giant cockroach, or something. That book made me wonder if I would turn into one, living in this miserable burg. Was I nuts to live here? But I couldn't get out. Not without help. Believe it or not, help came with Lenny, Lizard Lenny.

Listen, if you didn't grow up under the 'El,' rushing around like everybody else in that blasted town, you wouldn't know what's nuts and what ain't. You can get used to most anything, if you do it long enough. I'm here to tell you, I paid my dues. The worst of it? All these worker ants, zipping by without lookin' at anything. Think that's sane?

If it wasn't for Lenny, I'd still be listening to that friggin' train rumbling overhead, day and night, day and night. Then you'd crawl out of your flat in the morning, not that you slept all night, like those TV commercials say you can, and there'd be the dark, miserable shadow of the 'El' all over everything. Some jokers threw plastic cups and junk from the platform. That was besides all the dark dust that covered everything around here. In case you didn't know, the 'El' is what they call the elevated subway train. Yeah, I took it once in a while, but I didn't like it.

After a while, you didn't even want to go down the street where the sun was. Not that there was much sun around here. Mostly it was smog and rain and stuff like that. There was a beach on the 'Sound,' a couple of bus rides away, but I never saw it. If you think you know hot, try doing a summer around the Avenue. That's when you know what hot is. Then there was winter. Same thing. Colder than an Eskimo slurpy.

Can you blame me when I started chasing Lenny? He was the only boy I knew who had been out of this 'hood. He wasn't cute or anything, with a long nose and hair combed like something from the movies, real stupid looking. I heard that he had hit a girl. He'd never do that to me, you can bet on that. Okay, there was the hormone thing, but it wasn't just that.

Lenny impressed me when he came into the Shamrock with a lizard. I would try different joints, but this one had a bartender who couldn't speak English. It made me feel more relaxed. It had a big green shamrock painted over the door, but I never saw any Irish around here.

I had been drinking a few cold ones, trying to get over the funk I was in. And there he was, lizard and all. I was a bit out of it by then, so I can't tell you exactly what happened. All I know is I couldn't get rid of Lenny after that.

My place was small, so having him around made it a bit tight. I never got the housekeeping seal of approval, but Lenny was bad, really bad. I didn't care, though, because he was gonna get me out of this hellhole of a town. He had even been to the islands near Cuba once. If he had been just another local yoyo, I would have kicked him out long ago. And besides, he liked animals.

Things kind of happened fast after that. You know how it is when you get hooked with someone, and then it just goes its own way and you're just a passenger, kind of like sitting on the 'El?' You can't really get off, either, unless you want to jump and really hurt yourself.

We ended up in Whispering Waves trailer park way down South. What happened was, one day Lenny came home and told me to grab my stuff. We had to leave town, and quick. He said he'd made a bad business decision. I didn't know what business he was in, and I didn't ask. Around here, you didn't ask, and you didn't want to know. That's how it was under the 'El.'

The reason I like Whispering Waves, is that everybody is friendly, if you call sitting around with a big grin on your face, friendly. The manager hangs around all day watching the birds catch fish on the bay. You can hardly tell the trailers from the abandoned cars in the bushes. There's some beat up old Studebakers and Packards down here, if some fancy pants wanted to restore something.

But people like that don't come here. The front is too scary looking anyway, just to come in. That suits me fine, because I've got all these iguanas now, thanks to Lenny. I don't want strangers to come mess with my iggys. How did I end up with twenty three of them? Some guys from South America Lenny hangs with were selling them to pet shops and things turned sour.

Iggys are kind of like a really large lizard, but they have different colors. Each has his own personality and ways about him. I gave each one a name, too. You see, I never had a pet when I lived under the 'El." I had enough trouble taking care of me, never mind some gerbil or something. The one goldfish I had died when I took his bowl out to get some sun. I guess he cooked to death.

But I take good care of my iguanas. I buy a lot of lettuce and stuff at the local market, just for them. I wouldn't touch lettuce with a ten-foot pole, not even on hamburgers, but the iggys love it.

So here we are with a trailer full of iguanas, in the bathtub, out front in cages, in the kitchen. You name it; there is an iguana there. I never had kids, so they are my kids. We don't let people into the trailer any more, not after that dame peed all over the bathroom floor when Ben, the big one, tried to crawl out of the tub. I mean, it was his bathroom, too.

So now we mostly socialize around the termite table. That's what they call the old wooden job that sits out in the middle of the park, with a nice view of the water. There's lots of giant old trees here, so it's cool enough for my taste. Remember what I said about the roaches? Well, we've got roaches way bigger than anything you ever saw. But they don't do much except fly a little and leave lots of black specks around.

Okay, the bozos back under the 'El' would think I'm nuts to live at Whispering Waves. But you know something? Nobody here rushes around. If anything, they are too slow. But not really, 'cause slow is good. It's cool to sit around watching leaves fall off trees and flies buzzing around beer spills on the table.

I never turned into a cockroach. I wouldn't mind being an iguana, though. I love those critters more than Lenny, and he knows it. They eat first, before him. They never bitch about things. What I like most about them is they move slow, very slow. They always look at you, if you're around. Not like those clowns zipping around back north under the 'El.'

So that's my life, and I like it. Call me nuts if you want. I'll call you right back.


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© 2007 Liilia Morrison
May 2007

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