Literally moments after Susan had left this morning for her regular salon visit, a strange cat sound issues forth from the kitchen area and I arrive from the study to find a nice-sized alligator lizard on the floor bracketed on either side by Pepper and Ranger who are both looking down at it rather tentatively.

I immediately advise the cat and dog to vacate their locations and they do. Unfortunately so does the nice-sized lizard, straight into the space under the large free-standing pantry (that Susan built by herself several years before meeting me). I can’t say if Susan ever cleaned that void the lizard now occupied before I came on the scene in 2004, but I know for a fact that in the six years since then it has been left untouched as dustbunny incubator.

As is sometimes the case with me, simple plans have a way of getting complicated, and my simple plan to drag a rod across the space beneath the pantry and force the the lizard out from under the undoubtedly filthy place got really complicated when after doing so there was no lizard. In the reptile’s place came shoved out an amazing bundle of pet hair, an old barely chewed rawhide bone, and various bits of cat and dog kibble.

So my next step was to move the pantry out into the kitchen in hopes of revealing the lizard. But all that revealed was more pet hair, and by more I mean a metric shitload. On the OMFG scale of 1-10, 10 being Evacuate Immediately, this was an 8.

It was also around that point that I notice a gap between the pantry’s back wall and its floor, juuuuuust wide enough for an enterprising lizard to crawl through.

Sigh. So first I bust out the vacuum and clean all the crap off the floor. While the pantry’s out I also clean the wall, and the south side of the beloved O’Keefe & Merritt oven. Then I clear out everything from the bottom inside of the pantry and there’s no lizard. So I vacuum all the spare kibble bits that have accumulated there over a couple years — and why the hell not: I bust out the screwdriver  and some screws and close up that gap in the back.

All the while I’m wondering if the lizard had been a figment of my imagination or if it had accessed a secret portal under the pantry to an alternate dimension.

To be certain the lizard had not crawled up into the upper shelves of the pantry and was hiding behind the booze, I emptied the whole damn thing. No lizard. After pushing the pantry back into its original place, Susan gets home and I give her the play-by-play of the whole ordeal. If the critter had not somehow passed into the 4th dimension, the only viable solution was that it had gone past the pantry, past the stove and through a small gap found between the wall and the kitchen cabinets.

After lunch, Susan went to the market and I began Phase Two by emptying out the lower shelf of the cabinet. No lizard visible, so I load everything back in and pull the stove out from the all a bit for one more look back there with the flashlight.

Glagh. That space hadn’t been cleaned in a decade either, so I figure now’s as good a time as any. I pull the stove out as far from the wall as the gasline will allow, attack the surrounding walls and floor with 409 and paper towels, and when I’m finished with that I go get the vacuum cleaner from the cubbyhole behind the pantry.

And when I pick up the vacuum, what’s underneath it but the lizard who must’ve come back here after having all it could take surfing around an alternate universe. Or maybe it had been hiding in the vacuum cleaner the whole time?

Whatever. Next thing the lizard knows its shoeboxed and sitting on the breakfast nook table while I finish cleaning under and behind the stove. then I take it out into the backyard for a closer look, and I’m struck that it seems thinner and the tail longer than what I’d thought. Wondering if this might not be the same lizard, I show it to Pepper to see if there was any familiarity. But as you can see in the following picture  I snapped (click for a larger version), Pepper was all “leezaaard!”

And the lizard was all “Fuuuuuuuck this!”

So I boxed it back up and released it beside the north fence where it wasted no time diving out of sight.