It Was The Lizard’s Fault


Friday was a brilliant day here in the South of Spain. It was warm and sunny and we were preparing to host dinner guests. Joe had many delicious dishes planned and preparations were well underway by mid afternoon. We both agreed that the smell of the fish stock  was a bit overpowering and I opened wide the big patio door. I was surprised to see a huge sort of “June bug” insect buzz by. It was a welcome sign that Spring really does come in January here on this blessed coast. I went out to hang up a couple of towels and noticed a little black and gold lizard sunning himself.

“Look Joe! There’s a lizard.” Joe, fresh from the shower and without a stitch of clothing on came out into the yard to have a look.  We exchanged smiles at the sight of this sweet little creature.  A resounding slam of the heavy door to our house wiped the happy expressions off our faces. A draught from the open window had caught us out! There we were marooned in the little courtyard without a phone, key or, in Joe’s case, a pair of pants. We simply stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. It was the stuff of nightmares or bad Hollywood comedies! I dashed around to the front of the house in hopes of climbing up to the second storey and going in by the open balcony door. It was a long way up and I was not sure of the wooden beams that might have afforded a safe support. Were they solid or ornamental?

By this time Joe had discovered a damp towel and was no longer scandalizing a flock of goats with their shepherd on the hill behind the house. No help there. I noticed the shepherd quickly taking refuge on a crag and calling his charges to follow!

I vaguely remembered the street number of the gentleman who owns the place we are renting and set off to see if I could find him and get him to open up for us. He and his wife were to be our dinner guests and this might be an unusual overture to the evening but I had no choice.  In the meantime my toga-clad Joe appeared to be doing a good imitation of McGyver by tearing up a plastic water bottle (for once plastic was not the villain). He intended to try to jimmy the lock with a poor imitation of a credit card. I had my doubts about this as in my experience European locks are as secure as medieval treasure chests. However, this certainly was not the time for debate with Joe. I discretely set off thanking my stars that I had listened to him and turned off the pressure cooker on top of the stove before our mishap.

The next door neighbor of the owner of our house opened the door to an agitated lady stammering out a request for a ladder. Our prospective guest was not at home and so I was canvassing the street. In a mangled mixture of Spanish and English we figured out that there was nothing of use there. “I am useless,” he smiled.

While I was away, Joe had yelled “Hey neighbor” at the top of his lungs until the lady in the flat adjoining us appeared. (no one seems to have doorbells on our street). Joe was finding tearing plastic with hands a bit tough.  The blunt request for a knife by a virtually naked strange man triggered a hasty retreat on her part. Her husband soon appeared and took an immediate interest in our plight. He initially proposed swinging from his balcony to ours but we thought if anyone was going to “make a Tarzan” it should be Joe.

Joe cut up bits of plastic and struggled with the lock for a while but then the neighbor remembered he had the phone number of the rental agent who wrote up the contracts. Perhaps she would have a key. She did and appeared in short order to let us in.

Thank God for many things. It was not cold. There was a towel on the rack. The neighbor was at home. He had the phone number we needed. The police were never called. No animals or lizards were hurt in the composition of this piece.

PS Dinner was delicious!

my poetry book “Northern Compass” is available on and


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