If it wasn’t for that wretched bakery opening up down the road then none of this would have happened. Well, at least a vast majority of this never would have happened. Okay, maybe some of this still would have happened, but that’s not the point. The point is that none of this is my fault. None. Of. It. How was I supposed to know that the very second you opened up the door to a magical lizard’s cage that it would try and escape? I mean, it was supposed to be happy here in the pet shop wasn’t it? Not wanting to grow 50 times its original size and stomp around the neighbourhood, terrorising the citizens.
My father and I gave Jubby everything a lizard could want: Food, shelter (complete with a light for warmth and one of those special dead logs we kept out the back), drinking water, a mirror. And, just to make sure Jubby knew that we still loved him, we even played him his favourite music before closing up the shop each night, especially on the busy days where the customers seemed more interested in the cats and dogs.
Now that I think about it, it may have been a bit odd to turn the sign on the storefront door around so that it read CLOSED the very second the lizard escaped. But, that’s what my father had trained us to do in the case of an emergency (I say ‘us’ even though it was just me being trained. My father took events like evacuation drills so seriously that he pretended as though there was more than one other staff member in the shop with him whenever we had a drill). We were also trained to move outside, but there was no way that I was going out there. Not with that monster… that… that dinosaur smashing the town to bits.
I could only tell that Jubby was destroying the town by the horrific sounds being made outside. After watching Jubby scamper into the streets, I had turned the sign, locked the door, drawn the blinds and hid behind the dog kennels in panic. Now, these actions obviously didn’t form part of our emergency training because, usually, you would want to evacuate as that was where the threat should have been. Our training, however, didn’t cover what to do if your father had left you in charge for the first time so that he could go and try the Danish pastries being advertised at the new bakery down the road and the threat was outside the shop. There was a great deal of yelling and every few seconds or so the door to the shop would rattle. My only comfort was Daryl the cockatoo, who thought that this was the opportune time to remind me that it was getting close to feeding time.
As I sat behind the kennels talking with Daryl, I realised that the three kittens we had in the shop were staring at me, their little beady eyes filling me with guilt about not taking ownership of the situation. I decided to toughen up. Surely if anyone could calm Jubby down it could be me. I had been with him from the start, so I would see this through until the end. I mustered up the courage to walk over to the blinds and pull the drawstring to open them. You can only imagine my surprise when I realised that there was no destruction outside. No cars were overturned, no buildings knocked over by giant, spiny tails, and no-one running around in fear. In fact, everybody looked as though they were going about their everyday business. Me? I wasn’t so lucky. Everything may have been alright outside, but things were about to get pretty bad for me inside.
I’d never seen my father so furious. Well, I’d seen him furious, but not while carrying a lizard and two Danish pastries in his hands. I let my dad and Jubby in and dad put the lizard back into his tank. Needless to say I haven’t been left in charge of the shop since, but we now keep a set of keys under the welcome mat to the pet store. Just in case.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
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