TYRONE THE TERRIBLE, The Chameleon Who Decided He Was an Alligator
by Jan Lis
A little scrap of a chameleon, no bigger than a minute hatched out of his shell. He was the tiniest piece of nothing you ever did see. His mama looked down at him and sighed. “Such a puny little fellow. What to call you? How about Tyrone? There’s a good name for you to grow into, son.”
Just then, Tyrone’s sister wiggled her way out of her shell. She stretched and flicked off a piece of shell stuck to her shoulder. “Oh, that’s better. I was getting mighty cramped in there.” She looked up at Mama and blinked her big beautiful eyes.
“Oh my, my,” Mama said. “This little girl is just too beautiful to behold. I’m going to name her LaBelle.”
Mama turned. “Well, children, let’s go find some nice mealy worms for your breakfast. I declare, Tyrone, you’re going to have to eat a pile of ‘em before you amount to anything.”
Tyrone hitched himself up and trotted along after Mama and LaBelle. “I was just borned and already I got problems,” he muttered. “This ain’t going to be easy.”
Now I must tell you, Tyrone lived on the Bayou at a little rise in the ground just before you get to the place in the swamp where the river makes a dogleg turn to the right. The place is called Gnarly Tree Bend. You know of it, I’m sure.
Gnarly Tree Bend was a lovely place for a chameleon to grow up, and Tyrone was doing the best he could. But he was still kind of puny, and the other critters really didn’t want him to hang out with them. When they chose sides to play a game of baseball, no one wanted to choose Tyrone to play on their team. “He’s too slow. He can’t hit far enough. He can’t catch the ball,” they’d say. So, when he wasn’t in school, Tyrone spent a great deal of the time by himself.
Tyrone’s favorite spot in all of Gnarly Tree Bend was Sun Rock. Almost every afternoon when school was out, and on Saturdays, you could find him there. I don’t know if you have ever seen this place in your travels, but you can’t imagine a more perfect place in the world for a chameleon to sun himself and not be bothered by just about anything at all.
Sun Rock was an almost perfectly round rock, flat on top rather like a pie plate, and situated about a number 12 shoe size out into the river. The bank gradually sloped down into the water and out to the rock. Now, Tyrone knew how to swim, and could have swum out to his rock if he’d had to. The water was shallow enough he could have waded out most of the way.
But the glory was, he didn’t have to. Three small stones placed just so and so and so between the riverbank and Sun Rock allowed Tyrone to hop from one to the other to the other and up onto Sun Rock without getting his toes wet.
Oh, this was heaven—stretched out on his rock with the sun warming his chameleon skin, away from everything, and on his own private island. “I’m King of the Rock!” he hollered as he stood at the edge with his arms up as high as he could reach.
Except … Tyrone didn’t always want to be alone so much. “I want to be with the other guys, laughing and clowning around, and doing stuff. I want to play baseball and hit a homer. I want to catch a pop fly over first base. I want to …”