Lizard Skin

J. packs another bowl and we pass it around a few times, getting a decent buzz going, and then we all go upstairs to see Rusko. Our group is divided between those who have seen Rusko before and those who have no idea what to expect. K. shows us to his room, and everyone gathers around the dresser. On top of the dresser is a huge glass terrarium and inside it- a motionless yellow-brown banded gecko.

K. lifts the creature out of the terrarium and presents it to us, beaming, and the girls smile indulgently and quietly slide their phones from their back pockets. “Here,” M. whispers to me, “let me take a picture of you with the lizard.”

“He’s a Velvet Gecko,” K. announces proudly, looking down at his cupped hands.

I don’t want to touch it, thinking for some reason of the resin on my hands. I’m afraid that I’ll hurt the thing- who knows what’s going to poison something this fragile? I bend my torso around Rusko instead, positioning my head directly behind, and at eye-level. From the viewpoint of M.’s camera, the effect of my round, red-cheeked face is Rusko transformed; he acquires the majesty of his prehistoric ancestors, solemn and unblinking against the backdrop of a rising sun.   

We pack more bowls, and take lots of pictures of Rusko chilling out on top of everyone’s heads.