Who Invited Him?

He seemed charming at first...

Rich Banks

Rich Banks
Location
Austin, Texas, USA
Birthday
November 15
Title
Code Monkey
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It's not a company
Bio
It's all here, or will be one day.

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Salon.com
SEPTEMBER 26, 2009 11:04AM

On the Character of Freedom and Mercy

Rate: 13 Flag

Bentlee, sunning

She sits inside her faux whiskey barrel, beside the Sassafras tree and beneath the Escarpment Cherry. I turn to spy her out the window to ensure she does not take flight. She stares back through the window at me, knows me for the ape who feeds her the delicious little bugs. Then, her mind wanders back to the freedom she surely imagines and clearly desires.

The first time I took her out, I left the lamp plugged  in like a fool, face down on the wooden desk and almost burned down the house. A prescient project manager once predicted just such a thing, after a similar incident with the chimenea, and if there are curses then his bought such a fate for me that day.  The desk remembers.

That first day I had put her out on the decomposed granite, where she looked around for almost an hour, unmoving and confused. I feared she would bolt. But she stood completely still, slightly cocking her head from time to time, but otherwise the perfect sentinel. I briefly wondered whether she had lost the use of her legs after years of confinement. She put an end to that false impression when she quickly moved to the top of a rock where she could better survey her surroundings. Then, not another move.

Today, she waits, watching out for the Jays that harass her from time to time, and for the doves, whom she harasses, with a charge and a display of her fierce, showy beard. Bentlee does nothing in a hurry. Just as I contemplated Judo for 25 years before I actually undertook to learn it, she will sit for the better part of an hour before she emerges from the wire safety of the barrel and charges the little shade plants she will graze. An omnivore, is Bentlee.

 I let her out because she lobbies for the outing with a persistent glare and by scratching at the glass. I cannot live with imprisoning her. It kills my soul and hers. My son had earlier rescued her from a life of slowly being eaten, tail first, by a larger Dragon, and thus improved her lot. I, as her surrogate, substitute, second-team hero, gave her the great outdoors. But is this enough? Second-guessing my every move, I wonder if I do the right thing leaving her inside her barrel, where she remains still, after half an hour of false freedom. For her safety is superficial; it, and her life, could easily be cut short by a marauding cat or Green Heron while my back is turned. And even as she frolics, eats her veggies and watches tasty dragonflies tilting just out of reach, she must inevitably return to her cell. Then, she will give me that look of hate. Eminently docile as I lift her out of her home to play, she will fight me to prevent her return. But return she must. I am her safety, but I am also her gaoler. And she knows. And she does not forgive.

I hear the Jays.

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Comments

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To hell with this salad. Feed me a sweet, juicy cockroack, dude.
I love this. Many layers here, Rich.

Rated - even though I'm looking at a LIZARD!
Sweet...this is a beautiful story and says a lot about you...xox
Waking, this can't be the first, um, lizard you've ever rated...

Robin, I agonize over every little thing. This little thing is alive, though, so I cannot minimize it. It is smarter than one might think, and it grudges its captivity. Even a fool can witness its existential angst.
I'm not sure that many people would be so intuitive, Rich...xox
For an East Texas guy, you have the soul of a Buddist.
Julie, there may be something to that. Bentlee is definitely sentient. Somebody accused me of anthropomorphizing her, and denies she could have such feelings. I am not so sure.

But I am a failed Buddhist. Before bringing her back inside, I sprayed down the compost and turned up half a dozen foreign cockroaches. She scarfed down all six. Problem is, roaches are sentient, too. The Buddha would not be pleased.
Rich, I swear this is the best thing you've ever written, and it's about a lizard! Seriously, I can't get over that gorgeous prose. You should try to publish this somewhere. (I know, it is. But you know what I mean, somewhere real. :)
Yes, Elaine, my wife is still having trouble getting past the lizard part, too. But she loves Bentlee, as a person. Thanks for your kind words!

Stellaa, what a wonderful compliment. Thanks for that!

By the way, I expropriated the "ape" thing from Freaky. Thanks, Freaky, wherever you are!!
There's much more here than it appears at first glance... very insightful!
She is very lucky to have you as her human steward.
It's OK, Rich. We are sentience devouring sentience in a sentient universe. I think...
In my next life I'll request to be a lizard with the opportunities to do nothing in a hurry, be an omnivore and have someone like you concerned for my safety and well being.
WomanBlogging, you are very kind. All that I see going on is sort of a neurotic self-involved guy cathecting with a fascinating and expressive animal. I am no lizard whisperer, but maybe I delude myself that I am. Ha!

Emma, Bentley has been lucky so far. I am a rather absentminded gaoler, and one time lost track of her in the back yard when she was on release. Which caused pandemonium to ensue when my wife and son had to help me locate the wayward Dragon. Did I mention she doesn't move very much? Makes her hard to locate when I lose track of her position.

Dr., I hear you. The lizard eats bugs. Bugs eat smaller bugs, which eat even smaller bugs, at the end of which are bugs that will eventually eat us. My conscience is, for the moment, clear. Thanks for the absolution.

Cindy, thanks. I must care for Bentlee, because I want to and because I must. Maybe in the process of caring, I will screw up. I often do. The consequences of my screw ups are more, ah, consequential when living creatures are involved. So, in that way, yes, she is us. We do the best we can for those we love.

Linda, I've never thought about what I would want to be in my next life. But should your demise precede my own, then I shall treat the next lizard I meet with extra special care.
Your sensitivity and compassion are evidenced by your care for this creature. Your words about her are like blankets of additional warmth and protection. This was beautiful.
Beautifully written! I can clearly see the look on her face.... :)