Lizard People

Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

The facts is... Some people are born under a bad sign. Some people have no luck. And then there's cats like Orlando, who are just plain fucked. Just like li'l Stevie Miller said. Take the money and run, son. Take the money and run...

Lizard People by Gary Clifton

His mama had no idea who the hell his daddy was, so nobody knew why Orlando Bonfiglio Bronski III became a "third.” One would have been a full load. At twenty, Orlando was a dead ringer for the Creature from the Black Lagoon—a smooth clone of the monitor lizard from hell. Daddy may have been an alien.

When Orlando's useless ass wasn't in jail, he lived with mama Eunice out in Pleasant Grove. Dallas cops were frequently called to fistfights between Orlando, Eunice, and whoever happened to be around. Normally, the law of progression would dictate that as the maggot grew older he'd be able to duke it out with Eunice, man-to-man so to speak.

That didn't happen. She kicked the dog shit out of him three times a week. A scrawny little rat who went about a buck twenty after two Big Macs, Orlando was a hell of a lot more bark than fight. Years of smoking the linoleum didn't make him stronger. During one Sunday afternoon scrap, she popped him in the skull with a croquet mallet—seventeen stitches and a concussion worth two nights in Parkland.    

Orlando had been burning and blowing up things since he was four—sort of an add-on to being a sorry psychopath. Orlando hitched from Parkland back to Eunice's place, found his stash of fireworks beneath the front porch, made a little black powder bomb, and blew the front porch all over the neighborhood.

Cops drug Orlando out of a tree a block away. He confessed in six minutes and got two years in the Texas Department of Corrections. That translated to a lot of picking cotton and spending the next two years as an alpha con's wife—crisis mode for the sphincter muscle.
Orlando paroled out, returned to Dallas, found more fireworks, and this time blew down Eunice's whole damned house. Only she didn't live there anymore. He did manage to splatter parts of the two existing occupants who did.
Homicide cops interviewed him in the Parkland burn unit, where he lay naked on a rubber sheet, skinny carcass smeared with an oozy, menthol salve, surrounded by "Caution Oxygen" signs. The explosion had been severe and a shade premature, evidenced by both of Orlando's arm-stubs bandaged off just below the elbow. The blast had taken off both. Now instead of resembling an iguana, Orlando was more in the nature of baked haddock.

"Am I gonna die?" he whispered hoarsely.
"Damn sure are, dude...and with a little luck that would be today," one of the homicide dicks said at last. "You live to go back to TDC you're gonna have a tough time jerking off."

Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has short fiction pieces published or pending on nearly forty online sites. Clifton has been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, misunderstood and is now out to pasture on a dusty north Texas ranch. He has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.