Gutsy the Lizard

by Dan O'Day McClellan on March 15, 2013


gutsy enlarged 2This past weekend, as I was walking to the store to buy some wine for dinner, I came across a very long lizard lying in the middle of the parking lot of the store. Though you wouldn’t necessarily think so, Los Angeles is filled with animal life: coyotes, the occasional mountain lion, and loads of these little backyard lizards that seem to be everywhere in the valley wherever there is a patch of vegetation. I see them all over the place. This lizard was longer than the 6-8 inch backyard lizards I’m accustomed to. This guy was over a foot long, head to tail, a magnificent specimen, but there was something wrong with him. I crouched down to take a closer look.

“Hey Mr Lizard, you okay?” I asked, but then I could see that his guts were hanging out the side of his body. His head moved back and forth and he blinked, looking at me sideways as lizards do. Somehow, I felt like I could read his thoughts. We had a little conversation. He had been hit by a car, he told me, and his back legs were not working.

As I stared at him and gave thought to his dilemma, a car turned into the parking lot. I backed out of the way and watched as the vehicle just missed the little guy I had now named, Gutsy. I knew another car turning into the parking lot would probably end his life. I couldn’t just leave him there, could I?  No, I couldn’t let Gutsy die, not after our eyes had met and I had felt his being. For whatever reason, it was me who had found little Gutsy injured in the street, and I knew I had to try and save him.

I didn’t want to touch him with my bare hands, since lizard guts on my fingers was not appealing to me. I found a stick nearby in some bushes and went back towards Gutsy. Another car was turning into the parking lot. What could I do? I couldn’t flag it down and yell, “Hey stop, you’re about to run over a lizard I named Gutsy!” That would have been absurd, or maybe I was already being absurd. Gutsy struggled to get his front legs moving, dragging his body to the left, swinging himself out of the way of the oncoming tire just in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding death, but for how long?

I knew I had to act quickly before another car came by. I took the stick and carefully wedged it underneath his body. I was going to flick him off the street, into the nearby grass and bushes by the sidewalk. It was a good five feet away, so my aim needed to be good. “Are you ready, Gutsy?” He looked at me and blinked. Having never flicked a lizard with a stick before, I was a bit overzealous.  Gutsy went flying really high into the air, before landing on the dirt and grass next to the road. “Gutsy, are you okay?” I asked him.

Gutsy smiled at me, or at least I think that was a smile, as I’m not well versed in lizard smiles. I felt that he was thanking me though. I imagined his deep lizard voice,  “Thanks human Dan, I appreciate you stopping to help.”

Walking into the store to buy my wine I felt happy. I had given Gutsy a chance to live. Sure, it was more than likely he would be eaten by a bird or a cat, or would die from his injuries and the bugs would eventually get him. But possibly I had given Gutsy a chance to survive. Even without the use of his rear legs, maybe he would find a way to keep on going. Maybe, his wounds would heal and he would live his full life, however long that was. I felt inspired. Go Gutsy go.

Walking out of the store a few minutes later, I looked over and noticed Gutsy was back in the middle of the parking lot again, flat as a pancake. Just a few moments ago I was talking to him, but now he was dead. Life is so fleeting. Maybe I should have done more to save him, picked him up, taken him to the vet, and tried to nurse him back to health. But perhaps, Gutsy always wanted to end it all. Who knows?

That night I spilled a little wine in Gutsy’s memory, raising a toast to his little lizard life. Gutsy is dead – long live Gutsy!

Dan O'Day McClellan (Contributing Editor, Los Angeles)

Pennsylvania native Dan O'Day McClellan is a seasoned actor, writer, comedian, voice over artist and producer. Dan is the founding member of Los Angeles improv comedy troupe, The Omelettes. Dan's ongoing film making/producing work with Pete Galaxie Productions includes the award-winning short film, The Silence of Bees, along with the short films, Just Out of Reach, Reality of the Situation and The Afikomen. Dan's 1st Novel, Lognotes of a Wino, is due out in fall of 2015.

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