Iguana Be Loved by You by Jennifer Anthony

Corner Booth

30 June 2008

Kyoko sat on the front stoop of her walk-up, absentmindedly stroking Mr. Flipper’s dorsal spines. It was early afternoon, and sunny, which meant her pet iguana was in such a good mood that he barely seemed to notice his jeweled collar and leash. Eyes half-closed, he sat in a semi-comatose state of bliss on the step beside her feet. His green scales were just a shade brighter than her new sandals, and certainly more iridescent.

Mr. Flipper was a dapper lizard, and he knew it. Four feet long from head to tail, with lustrous yellow eyes and a sizeable dewlap that proved that size did indeed matter, he would have had to fight off the females in his native land of Costa Rica. But here among the hominoids in New York, he sometimes scared away the females and always attracted the men. Something that Kyoko could relate to, unfortunately.

Kyoko hadn’t yet told Lily, her cheese shop interest, about the reptilian charge. It was always tricky to bring that particular subject up, even trickier after the woman had mentioned how she hated most animals. Kyoko hadn’t pressed for details, but she imagined that large green lizards might be among the detested.

But Mr. Flipper was here to stay. She and her ex Felicity had rescued him from an illegal breeding operation profiled on Animal Planet. They had nurtured him back to health, doting on him like the child they planned to have to one day, and he had recovered to become a magnificent adult. And then, the break-up and the subsequent custody battle.  Finally, Felicity had acquiesced, realizing that Kyoko’s apartment would provide him more room. But Felicity still took him for the occasional weekend, and watching how tender she could be with the lizard opened up Kyoko’s wounds over and over again.

Kyoko heard the slapping of sandals and turned to see Lily jaunting down the street. When she waved, Lily beamed and began to jog toward her. Kyoko felt a little stabbing pain, remembering how Felicity would take her time, make Kyoko wait. She missed that.

But as Lily came closer and the slapping of the sandals grew louder and louder, Mr. Flipper came alive and scrambled up a couple of stairs, tugging at his leash. His rejuvenated scales caught the light and shone brilliantly.

Lily froze. “What the HELL is that?” she asked. She was no longer smiling.

Mr. Flipper’s dewlap was expanding and he, too, did not look amused.

From across the street, a male jogger whistled and shouted, “Hey! Great lizard!”

“Tell me that’s not yours,” Lily said. Her arms were crossed.

“This is Mr. Flipper,” Kyoko said. It appeared as if she would not be hooking up with Lily that night after all. “And yes, he’s mine.”

“Oh. Oh,” Lily was saying.

She stood shaking her head, and appeared to be scrambling for words to excuse herself when she heard the surefooted step of someone else approaching.

Kyoko looked up, certain it was the jogger, coming to take a closer look.

Felicity was hustling toward them. She was dressed in impossibly short shorts and a sleeveless running tee shirt that hugged her six-pack stomach and perfectly rounded breasts. Kyoko recognized the clothes, had helped Felicity pick them out, but the sparkly new tennis shoes were a post-Kyoko purchase.

“Hey,” Felicity said. “What’s going on?” She motioned toward Lily, who had stopped shaking her head and was taking turns staring at Mr. Flipper, Kyoko, and Felicity.

“Lily, this is my ex-girlfriend,” Kyoko said. “We, um. We have joint custody of the iguana.”

She expected Lily to throw up her hands in disbelief and jog back the way she had come. But instead the woman straightened and strode a few steps closer.

“So you’ve just come over to take the lizard for the weekend?” Lily asked Felicity.

“Oh, it’s not her weekend,” Kyoko said, firmly.

“Then why is she here?” Lily asked.

“I’m sorry, but who are you again?” Felicity asked. She, too, took a couple more steps toward the porch.

Lily marched over, extended her arm, and held her hand out to shake. “I’m Lily. Kyoko and I have a date tonight, so it would be great if you could baby-sit the lizard while we’re out.”

Kyoko was struggling not to laugh at how Felicity’s eyes had widened into large circles.

“Oh, I’m sure it would be great,” Felicity said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “How about this? I’ll watch him here, and you two run along. I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back.”

“Sounds great to me!” Lily chirped. She was beaming again.

Mr. Flipper was watching all the drama with heavy-lidded eyes. When Kyoko stood to pass the leash off to Felicity, he barely stirred.

But Felicity leaned in close and whispered, “Don’t stay out too late. I think Mr. Flipper misses you.”

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