published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home in 2014

"Ray, come here." My wife, Quyen, called out to me from the house as I was pulling clover out of the ice plant in the front yard. Her use of my first name and not the customary "Honey" told me this was a serious matter. 

I dropped the garden shovel into the round plastic container of uprooted clover, walked directly through the garage, into the laundry area, and continued to the family room. 

"Daddy, there’s a lizard in the house!" Our seven-year-old, Kristie, conveyed this with the excitement of a child announcing her birthday to arriving guests. 

"Yeah, Daddy, it’s huge." Our ten-year-old, Kevin, chimed in with exuberance.

In the kitchen, Quyen spread her hands apart to indicate the length of a large-mouthed bass. Then she pointed to the loveseat in the family room and said, "It’s behind there."

I went back into the garage to put on my work gloves and retrieved the stick I carried on neighborhood family walks to protect us from mountain lions and coyotes in the surrounding canyons. Then I armed my wife with a broom and Kevin with a plastic yellow wiffle bat. 

"What about me? How come I don’t get a weapon, Daddy?" Kristie asked.

I hurried to the laundry room and brought Kristie a short-handled whisk broom. Approval registered on her face. Our family was now prepared to do battle with the marauding invader.

I opened the sliding door in the family room. Next, I pulled the loveseat away from the wall and stepped gingerly onto the cushions to peek over the back.

"Be careful, honey," Quyen said.

I gave her a thumbs-up to indicate her husband had matters well in hand. I peered over the loveseat and spotted the creature crouched against the wall. It was chubby, with scaly desert-dry skin, and large, black zigzags along its back.

I reached over the loveseat with my walking stick and nudged the lizard’s tail. Instead of escaping through the door opening, the pesky reptile scurried under the loveseat and through the other side to scamper along the rug in a twisting, jerky jaunt to hide beneath the stuffed Winnie the Pooh in the middle of the family room. 

Kristie screamed with a tone of frightened glee and Quyen hurdled onto the sofa. Kevin stood with his feet rooted to the ground, mouth agape.

I descended from the loveseat wielding the stick and was about to lift Pooh to get at the enemy when Quyen said, "Wait!"

My hand froze in mid-extension. 

She stepped over the arm of the sofa onto the floor and went into the garage. She brought back the now empty plastic container I had been using for clover and handed it to me.

I gave my stick to Quyen and positioned my family in a defensive perimeter around the denizen’s hideout. Slowly, carefully, I raised Pooh and the lizard monster stayed still. Fast as a sprung trap, I dropped the container around the reptile.

"Yeah, you got him, Daddy!" Kristie said. 

Quyen let out a long, relieved sigh.

Kevin said, "Now what, Daddy?"

I looked at him, then at my wife and Kristie and tried to hide my unadulterated uncertainty. Finally, I tossed Pooh onto the couch and knelt on the carpet with both hands around the container. I pushed the container toward the sliding door and heard the riled inmate thrashing in a moving prison.

At the door track, I gestured for my family to be ready with their weapons in case the unwelcomed guest tried to dash back into the house. Then I lifted the container’s edge and the lizard wasted no time hightailing it over the track onto the patio and through the backyard. 

I slid the glass door closed and was mobbed by my family for the courageous and heroic efforts to save them from the dire threat of the wayward lizard.


Picture of wiffle bat and ball by Rmrfstar

Picture of Winnie the Pooh by Jameziecakes