THE DAY BEFORE:
After Jack was put in his place by the rich elitist who took Rose from him, Jack was surprised to hear her soft voice behind him.
“Hello Jack. I changed my mind. They said you might be up here…”
Jack crawled over to her. “Shhhh. Give me your claw.”
He slowly led her toward the end of the branch and said, “Now close your eyes.”
Rose closed her eyes.
He nudged her, “Go on. Step up. Now hold onto the branch. Keep your eyes closed. Don’t peek.”
She barely whispered, “I’m not.”
Rose breathlessly let out a tiny laugh.
Jack moved in next to her ear and softly asked, “Do you trust me?”
“I trust you,” she said.
He smiled. “All right. Open your eyes.”
On the very end of the heavy branch, which swung gently in the strong breeze, Rose opened her eyes and took in the magnificent view surrounding her.
“I’m flying. Oh Jack…!”
They kissed. As only iguanas could.
THE NEXT DAY:
The strong breeze brought in a cold snap and the two iguanas clung onto each other, trying to stay warm through the night. All Rose wanted to do was to fall into a deep sleep.
She murmured weakly, “It’s getting quiet.”
Jack, hanging onto the thick branch Rose was stretched out on, grabbed her bony green claw and shook it. “Don’t you do that.”
“I love you Jack.”
His green leathery body was shivering but his voice stayed strong. “Don’t you say your goodbyes. Not yet. Do you understand me?”
She fought the urge to close her eyes, “I’m so cold.”
He grabbed her hand tightly and said each word as if they were his last, “You’re going to die as an old, old lady. Warm in your tree. Not here, not this night.”
She managed a weak smile as she looked into his glassy black eyes.
He paused to gather enough strength. His ravaged voice had a mafia godfather’s rough, guttural sound, but he needed to tell her. “This tree brought me to you. And I am thankful for that, Rose.”
She was silent but a tear fell down her green, scaly cheek. Only to freeze in an icy droplet…
Jack couldn’t move his body. He had lost all feeling. But his only concern was keeping Rose alive. “You must do me this honor. You must promise me that you will survive.”
His green face cracked a bit in the freezing wind as he smiled, relieved to feel her new strength as she gripped onto his claw. She saw his eyes close and she knew it was her turn to be strong. “I’ll never let go.”
A ray of sunshine finally peeked out over the horizon. “Jack… there’s the sun. It’s morning. Jack, we made it. Jack!”
He didn’t respond. She shook his claw, trying to get him to hear her, “There’s sunshine. I see light. Jack. JACK!”
She had to live on for both of them. She had promised him. She shivered as she clenched her teeth in defiance, trying to stay awake. “I’ll never let go. I promise.”
Several minutes later she heard a thump. She saw Jack fall and land underneath the tree. Stiff as a doorknob. Or, in this case, stiff as a frozen iguana.
Jack felt the air whoosh out of him as he hit the ground, flat on his back.
He tried to say, “Ouch” but his mouth didn’t move. Nothing was moving. His entire body was paralyzed.
He managed to open his eyelid a crack and was relieved to see Rose still high up in the strong tree.
“At least Rose’s safe,” he said to himself. “I hope she isn’t seeing me like this. She is used to power and wealth and I'm barely good enough for a hobo's appetizer now.”
But, he had more to worry about than Rose or a hobo’s meal plan. His worst enemy, Spud, the white Maltese dog who governed the very yard he had tumbled into, just spotted him. Jack had crossed Spud before and it wasn’t pretty. His high-pitched yapping alone could shatter a crystal glass.
Spud sauntered over to Jack and circled him slowly.
“Move along fur ball,” Jack thought to himself. He was almost bigger than Spud, so normally he could defend himself, but this paralyzing gig really gave Spud the advantage.
Spud sniffed Jack and nudged him with his black nose. Maybe Spud would think he was dead and lose interest.
“Get away from him, you monster. The love of my life died and the least you can do is pay him some respect. I loved him. I LOVED HIM WITH ALL MY HEART,” Rose screamed from the tree.
“A bit dramatic, but touching,” Jack thought. “Boy will she be surprised when she finds out I’m still alive. That is, if I survive the wrath of this domesticated beast. But, I can’t imagine he’d eat me. He’s fed and treated like royalty.”
Sure enough, Spud moved and turned his back to Jack with his snobby nose high up in the air.
Jack almost laughed. Typical white boy. Needs everything handed to him on a silver platter.
But, Spud didn’t walk away. Instead, he put himself in position… to pee. He lifted his leg and did his thing – right on Jack.
“NOOOOOOOO!” Jack screamed in his head.
“Ewww,” Rose said from her perch high above.
Spud was famous around the neighborhood for his long pee times and he didn’t disappoint his fans this time. Jack felt like he was under a warm fire hydrant that had suddenly burst open.
Jack continued screaming, “NOOOooooo – oh – oh. Wait a minute… warmth? I’m getting warm! Keep it up Spud. Literally. Keep your leg lifted up!”
Jack could feel his tail, his feet... HIS ENTIRE BODY! He could move again! He rolled over and faced Spud, weak but ready to fight.
“Looks like I saved your green ass. You’re welcome, pond crawler,” Spud said as he moved to a dandelion and squirted one last squirt on his property. “Now get off my lawn.”
Jack grinned at his long-time rival. “Thanks. Thanks a lot.”
He ran straight for the tree and climbed quickly up to Rose. His love.
AT THE TOP OF THE TREE:
“I’m coming Rose! We survived the icy cold and the icy hearts of the elite. We can be together after all. Forever.”
Rose turned in time to see Jack climbing the last branch to be with her. “Yeah, plans have changed Jack. I’m choosing the white boy.”
And, with that, Rose let go of the branch and landed in Spud’s paws.
Moral of this story:
The rich, white boy got the girl after all and the poor, green guy was left with nothing but feeling like a pot to pee in.
Author Jana Vandelaar has been living in the Florida Keys for more than 20 years with her loving family and smelly pups. She appreciates her readers’ fun feedback on Instagram and Twitter at JanaVandelaar and on her Facebook page at JanaVandelaar.INK or check out her website at www.JanaVandelaar.com. Her book titled, “ONLY IN THE KEYS, Snort-Laughing Stories About Life In The Florida Keys” has some of her most popular articles and is available at Randy’s Florida Keys Gifts, MM 102.4 or at Hooked On Books, MM 81.9.