Joost The South African – 5

Joost walked me outside to one of the little white trucks to show me a wap that the men had caught on the desert and tethered in the bed of the pickup.

I’ve seen many of these lizards on the dirt tracks as we drive here to the site each day, yet I am surprised by the size of the reptile that Joost introduces to me.

(Everything becomes distorted through the tinted ballistic glass of the armored trucks, and I spend so much time in the truck … perhaps many things seen without the filter of ballistic glass become memorably vivid and true in comparison…)

Some of the PSD drivers aim for the waps on the tracks, like some people in the States aim for squirrels and speed up to kill them. I don’t say anything to the men; they would only tease me and my words wouldn’t change their inclinations. (In any case, wouldn’t it sound absurd to object to the casual death of a wap in the midst of a war zone? Never mind. So many things in Iraq seem regrettable but ultimately forgettable, transitory. It is not a truth, but an accurate description of perception.)

The wap bodies don’t cause our truck to bump when the men run over them, so I had assumed the lizards were quite small. Perhaps we have only seen young ones. The wap in the truck bed is four feet long.

It raises itself high on its sturdy front legs when we approach, and opens its mouth wide. The red mouth looks like a raw gash against the backdrop of its wide yellow body.

“It looks quite vicious,” I told Joost.

“The men say that they are vegetarians,” he replied.

“What will the men do with this wap now that they’ve caught it?” I asked.

“They will eat it,” Joost told me, studying the wap with his head cocked slightly to one side.

I thought about that for a moment. “In stew? As kebabs?” I asked. “How will they cook it?”

“I had not thought of this,” Joost admitted. “Perhaps in a taco?”

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