Three days ago, I spotted something unusual lying on the gravel walk of my small garden. Grey, heavy … a yard or more of dead iguana, which is quite a lot. I don’t know where iguanas usually go to die, but I’d never come across a dead one before and was quite shocked.
It was dusk, so I thought if I said out loud, “I believe in magic!” it would be gone on the morrow. And indeed, it was! The next morning, gone!
The niggle was, having noticed the previous day that its head had been eaten, I was pretty certain it hadn’t woken up and ambled off. I also noticed my cat Anand, a tall, thin cat, sitting on the path, self-consciously regarding his claws.
I was gripped by a sudden memory of the episode in Fawlty Towers in which a guest dies in the hotel. In order not to upset the elderly permanent residents in the lobby by taking it down to the front door, Basil, the waitress and Manuel temporarily hide the corpse in an empty room. Unwittingly, Basil’s wife,on the front desk, assigns the empty room to a guest and the rest of the episode is Basil, Manual and Connie running around Fawlty Towers shifting the corpse in a panic.
Anand is a tall and thin. Like Basil Fawlty, in fact …
Anand was still sauntering around the bottom of the garden, particular attention to a huge bougainvillea. After a panicky search, I discovered that the iguana had been hauled up the step to under the bougainvillea, under a dense storm of thorns on branches that lie along the ground, so no one could get at it. I had been going to ask a muchacho working on a house down the street to come and help me, had the corpse been where I’d left it the night before, but now, it was inaccessible.
Friends advised that the smell of decomposing iguana would be intolerable.
How to get it out of those thorns without cutting down the entire bougainvillea? Night fell – again. To hell with it, I thought, breathing shallowly. Tomorrow is another day.
The next morning, Day Three, I ventured out to the bougainvillea wondering whether a long pole could possibly nudge it, as large and heavy as it was and as hard to get traction, far enough out for someone who was not me to bag it. However, it was a moot point. The iguana was gone again. Another frantic search around the garden, and no dead iguana. It was too big for anything to have eaten it, and besides, cats don’t eat carrion. I knew there was no way a cat, or any other animal, could jump up onto the wall with a fat, yard-long dead iguana clenched in its jaws. It was on my premises somewhere.
Around noon, sure enough, I noticed Anand taking a studiedly casual interest in the bodega where the washing machine is.
There was the corpse. Again. Dragged by Anand, for who knows what reason, from under the bougainvillea, down the garden path, into the bodega and placed, now bloated and stinking in the tropical heat, under the sink.
I summoned the will to somehow shovel it into a garbage bag and pour in a bag of cat litter. I didn’t close it because I thought if the iguana bloated during the night, the bag might explode.
There were three days before the next garbage pick-up for household waste.
Why had this cat been hauling a corpse five times its own size around for three days? And who killed it? Large iguanas have such powerful tails, they can easily slap a cat right off a wall. Although, as night falls and the temperature goes down, the iguana, a cold-blooded animal, gets sleepy. Cats don’t.
In any event, the prospect of the iguana in the bag growing ever more bloated and noxious before garbage collection haunted me for the rest of the morning, I called a Mexican friend, pleading for help. She called the city for me. I hadn’t realised it, but they come and pick up dead animals.
Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang and two pleasant men in clean T-shirted city uniforms and driving a clean white truck presented a form for me to sign, picked up the garbage bag and left cheerfully. Solved! Just like that!
I can’t remember how they resolved the corpse issue on Fawlty Towers. But my poor iguana corpse was gone.