Imagine looking for your grandma and finding her floral caftan with matching pink furry slippers, the floral citrus smell of Channel #5 still hanging in the air meandering along the trail of brilliant zinnias all the way to the hot tub. Then imagine the evidence, a struggle, indentations in the St. Augustine signaling an awful sordid event that took all the sunshine right out of the sunshine state. Then there was my Pop, what would he do now without her?
My grandma was full on glamour and style. She was a Bama Beauty. I fondly named her “Gigi.” When she and Pop were at the University of Alabama, he had all sorts of competition for her. She was blond curls and red nails, hair bows and ruffles, she was head cheerleader helping the Tide roll on its mission to make the South crimson. Pop’s arch-rival for Gigi was one Baxter Dupree. He always made fun of Pop. He liked to say, “You got Doris all right, Ralph. Thing is, can you keep a champagne woman on a beer budget?” But you know, they did alright. I mean. I know my Gigi had a thing for Baxter all those years, but she did choose Pop. I remember when we went to the homecoming games and how her face would lite up even more so with her frosted pink highlighter placed on those strategic points and the stroke of feather white powder going down the center of her nose just like they say Marilyn wore. Pop wasn’t even jealous, he was just as calm as ever when we were down at the concession stand pondering which had less cholesterol the Double Down Dog or the Cinnamon Sweet Bunz. We weren’t even sweating being behind Auburn 17 points when Baxter came sauntering by heading straight for Gigi and her circle of former sorority beauty queens. I thought he was a player like that, but that’s just me.
Last time I looked, it was there staring with his beady eyes through the glass doors. What is a water monitor, An Asian Water Monitor? What exactly does it monitor? Miss Ames’ poodle across the way? Sadly we now know. Three days ago, the Cook’s called said it was sunbathing on their patio. Sunbathing? Can you imagine? That scaly, morbid thing!
“You got chicken thawed? Gigi called.
“I’m putting it out for him,” Pop answered while grabbing the freshly baked white meat greasy and roasted just right.
Flashback to yesterday, Pop taking a chunk of honey-baked ham. That scaly demon monitor lizard gliding up behind him. The ham goes inside the trap. Presto! The monitor takes flight. No cigar. He won’t play that game.
“It won’t work, Ralph. He’s too smart.,” Gigi called again from her chaise lounge. “What we have to do is let him know we’re not afraid of him. We have to have a presence, have to get on with our lives. Take a stand!”
The next day, I had croissants with Gigi and Pop when the doorbell rang. It was C.R. Marrow, Deputy Sheriff. “I got some good news, Mr. Higgins!” He tells my Pop. “We caught that dang monitor!”
“You don’t say!”
“Yep, we got it. Hauled it out to the zoo. You won’t have any more issues.”
“Well thanks, C.R. You playing the tournament tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there.”
“Well, I’ll see ya then!”
Gigi got up and fixed a fresh glass of cranberry cocktail to toast. “Farewell to lizards who belong far away! Ralph, walk the dogs. Time to get back to normal.”
Here’s the thing about celebrations, first you’re up, then you’re down. You take the good, the bad and the unexplained.
Next day, Pop loaded up his golf clubs to play the Gator Golf Tournament. There was loads of sun shining in the sunshine state for a moment. I decided to run a surprise treat over to Gigi, some Revlon lipstick and Cody Airspun powder. She had a bridge game to get ready for and a couple of her sorority sisters would be visiting and playing. I knew she had to bring her game on both fronts. I let myself in the front door. She wasn’t anywhere in the house. I headed out to the backyard. That was when I found her Natori Tahiti floral print caftan torn with big rips in it and her pink fuzzy slippers by the hot tub, parallel marks through the pristine St. Augustine.
“It looks like, she’s been drug clean away! Who would have taken her?” The keen observance of one C.R. Marrow. Then the bad news broke like molten lava bathing a landslide, a second Asian Water Monitor had been reported on the loose.