I watched Sam and Joel with fascination. I knew what they were doing was wrong. They had made a little noose. We stood very still by the woodpile, watching for lizards. A lizard darted out and then stood still. It looked like it was doing pushups on the grey wood in the sun. Everything was dry dry dry. It was fire weather. The sign outside of Boonville with the picture of Smokey Bear had the arrow pointing to the red: “Severe fire risk.”

Sam and Joel were Randy and Eddie’s cousins, but they lived far away. They came in the summer to visit. They had white-blond hair, and their father was an unbeliever.

Joel crept incrementally toward the lizard, then lassoed it, pulling it tightly in the string. He yanked the lizard off the ground, its legs circling like when in cartoons, Scooby’s legs scramble but he’s not going anywhere? Like that. I was sickened and curious.

You shouldn’t do that. It’s mean.”

We drew around to look at the lizard. It was the dry color of the wood and it had tiny grey claws, still scrambling.

Joel pulled on its back leg, not hard enough to tear it off.

“I’m going to tell on you!”

“We’re just looking at it.”

You shouldn’t, though. You should let it go.”

God made His People kill animals for Him all the time. And they didn’t even eat the animals. They would kill them and then burn them for God. We didn’t have to do this, because when His People killed Jesus, this was the last offering they had to make to God and then all their sins could be forgiven. This wasn’t for God, and I was pretty sure that Sam and Joel wouldn’t care.

The lizard was dying but it was not dead yet. It started twitching. Joel lay it down on the woodpile, and Sam smashed its head with a rock. The rock and the wood got bloody, but just barely. There was surprisingly little blood in the lizard.

from The Book of Revelation

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