Before he noticed he’d killed it, he mistook it for some kind of weird decal, like the spiders you stick on windows on Halloween. And he was certain it was him who had killed it, because he’d painted the door and doorjamb a sunny, vibrant yellow, fresh lemons, painted it the first day he moved in to try and gussy up the apartment he rented after the divorce.
The hovel—a stand-alone, converted three-car garage—was hard to disguise as living quarters. But the yellow nearly did it. Except now, right there, in the upper left corner of the doorjamb, the gecko was plastered in perfect two-dimensions on the fresh paint. The tail, the little toes (all twenty of them) were decaled there so flat and distinct that at least he figured the thing died quickly.
After two or three weeks of coming in and out of the hovel, he couldn’t stand it anymore. He opened up his razor, pulled a blade out and slowly, carefully, peeled the gecko from the doorjamb. He put it, like a leaf, in the dictionary on the page where the word gecko appeared and often read the part of the definition about how their toe pads can cling to any surface, allowing them to wait for their insect dinner, with evolutionary patience, on the side of a tree or the underside of a branch, waiting as long as needed because if the insect never comes they just eat their own shedding skin.
M a r k S u t z