Friday, July 29, 2011

How The King Lost His Tail

As Barry and Priscilla will readily affirm, in my world there is, and always will be, one and only one “King”. Forget about King George, Henry VIII, King Abdullah or even Larry King, for me Elvis is the one true King. When Jana and I got serious about teaming up for life, I worked hard to convince her we needed to get married in Las Vegas. I harbored a secret hope that we would be wedded by Elvis masquerading as an Elvis impersonator. Like my good friend Austin Lyman, and many others, I am convinced Elvis lives.

Tailless King Collard Lizard

So, when Barry recently wrote his article about the King of Twin Rocks Trading Post I was excited. When I discovered the story was about a reptile, I was dismayed. It was only after Barry assured me he did not mean any disrespect and Priscilla played Elvis’ Greatest Hits on the trading post stereo that I consented to its publication. From that point forward, however, I kept an eye on Barry’s so-called King. I would see him from time-to-time lounging on a rock or skittering across the porch and always looked upon him with disdain. “King, my . . . kiester,” I thought every time he appeared.

So it was until recently, when Monday morning dawned hot and humid. On Sunday the mercury had skyrocketed to 105, and all indications were there would be no break in the temperature for a day or two. Kira is working on her goal of running 200 miles during the summer break, so we were on the road early that day, trying to beat the heat. As we exited the House Above the Trading Post, I noticed him, Barry’s King, peeking out from under a large rock. “Look at that,” I sneered to Kira, “reptilian royalty according to your uncle.” “He looks pretty majestic to me,” she replied. “Bah,” was all I could say.

Over the years, Barry and I have discovered the only way to efficiently catch the lizards that scurry across our porch is to spray them with a garden hose. The water freezes them in place and you can then simply reach down and pick them up. We have, however, rarely imparted this knowledge to the little ruffians who inhabit the trading post property during summer vacation. Consequently, our resident reptiles are rarely in jeopardy of being captured and packed off to far away lands.

On this particular day, however, the tide seemed about to turn. As I walked across the landing to Twin Rocks Cafe to secure a glass of iced tea, I noticed a posse of French children beginning to form. I could hear them scheming in a language I was ill-equipped to decipher. It was easy to see, however, something was up, and it did not bode well for Barry’s King. As he clung cockily to the side of the Sunbonnet Rock, the Franco hoodlums closed in, inching cautiously closer.

During their first attack they misfired and the large lizard easily burst out of reach, circumnavigating the rock and stopping only when he was confident the children had been evaded. All would have gone well, except for the large cup of icy soda one of the attackers held in her unsteady hand. As the group lunged a second time, this young woman stumbled, splashing the cold, sticky liquid onto the Lizard King, freezing him in place. In an instant, her brother seized the lizard, grasping him by his thick tail. Screaming and shouting, he hoisted the reptile aloft.

Finally regaining his composure, the lizard began to wriggle and snap his jaws, causing the children to shout even louder and dance about as though they were performing a war dance. After a few moments, that must have felt like an eternity for the creature, the King liberated himself. The cost, however, was dear. As he tumbled to the sidewalk and beat a hasty retreat, his detached tail remained in the hand of his captor and continued to wave back and forth as though it were still attached to its owner.

Realizing what had happened, the exhilarated assailant released his grip on the severed appendage and let it fall to the ground. As if to fully and finally terminate its life-force, the group began stomping on the royal tail. Once that task was accomplished and the severed part ceased to pulsate, the hoodlums faded off towards their RV, leaving the ghastly remains of their hunt ground into the cement. In deference to Barry, I retrieved the tail and gave it a proper burial, concluding the brief ceremony with my own tortured rendition of Crying in the Chapel. And that, my friends, is how the King lost his tail.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

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