Everyone was scared of Lars.
Except for Leland, who honestly had no idea what there was to be afraid of. Sure, he was green and scaly and could move his eyes independently, so that one is looking forward and the other backwards. But besides that, he was fine, cute, even.
His little sisters, Kolbee and Reese screamed if he brought Lars near them. His parents would then scold Leland and tell him to keep his pets to himself. He knew they were scared of him just as much as his sisters.
Leland had brought his chameleon to school once for Show and Tell. He kept him safe in Lars' little terrarium , complete with a palm tree and a wind up fish. Eventually, he added Reese's mutilated Barbie doll so he could have a girlfriend if he wished.
One boy, Billy, came up to Leland's desk and tapped on the glass. "What's it's name?"
Leland was thoroughly ticked. "He's a he, his name is Lars, and don't do that. It hurts his ears."
Billy frowns and leaves to go spend time with the more popular kids. Leland had never been good at making friends, let alone keeping them. Billy was no exception.
Often Leland wondered what Lars was thinking. Probably not much. He would just sit in one spot all day, usually on his back. It was strange, really quite comical, to see a lizard on its back, feet in the air, potbelly hanging all over the place. In fact, Lars' belly seemed a little too big for the rest of him, so one day Leland asked his father," Is this normal?"
"Is what normal?" he replied, trying unsuccessfully to fix his wife's broken pair of glasses.
Lars was in Leland's cupped hands. The way he was relaxed was almost unnatural, even for a reptile.
Leland's dad shuddered a manly shudder and turned away. "Um, son, what is your pet doing out of its cage?" he inquired. Leland knew none of his family remembered the name Lars. Sometimes he wondered if they remembered HIS name. But that's ridiculous.
"Look at him," he said, holding the chameleon to his father's face.
"Ack!" He slapped Leland's hands and cowered away like a pathetic little man-child.
"Dad!" Leland shrieked, pulling a still perfectly content Lars to his chest. "Don't do that! You could have hurt Lars!"
His father simply frowned and decided to go outside to continue failing at fixing glasses and life in general.
Just when things seemed at their worst with the entire nameless slimy lizard situation, Kolbee, the middle child at eleven years old, thought it would be funny to hide Lars in Leland's pajamas drawer.
Of course, this was easier said than done.
Kolbee searched top to bottom the bathroom for the gloves her father wore when he dyed their mother's hair. They were rubbery and smelled bad and left your hands powdery when you took them off. But they would do, because there was no way she was ever going to touch the big green bug with bare hands.
Her mother told her to mind her own business and made her go do something more productive with her time than make a mess of things. And that's how Kolbee came to be curled up in a ball on the floor with fleece winter gloves on, Lars relaxing next to her, on his back, flipping around his tail. Potbelly poking out.
Leland came into his room to do his stupid math and social studies homework only to find his traumatized little sister in the fetal position almost completely under his bed.
And Lars wasn't in his terrarium.
"Kolbee?" Leland asked, panic rising in his stomach. "Kolbee, where'd you put Lars?"
Leland went to help her, when he noticed the familiar swishing of a green tail on the floor. He smiled, shaking his head and scooped his chameleon up. "Kolbee?"
"Don't try that again." Of course, Leland didn't exactly know what had taken place, but judging by the obvious terror his sister was in, most likely she was going to flush him down the toilet. Lars knew nothing terrified the girls more than his sticky tongue all over them, or his rolling eyes. He must have done both at once, and thus here they were...
After that, Leland hardly ever had Lars out of his sight. After all, it felt like the little potbellied chameleon was the only left who understood the poor boy.