our lord jesus took away one of my soldiers today.

i have three retarded toads. had. i had three.

darryl, houdini, and peewee. for those who were around for the first toad situation, there were originally only two. no wait. let’s back up.

amanda brought me home a california tree frog she found hiding in some plants at the flower shop. i named him larry.

larry was fabulous, but i worried that he might get lonely. so i went to the petstore and bought him two friends, asian fire-bellied toads: darryl and darryl.

during the first few weeks of their cohabitation, i wondered if maybe i was doing larry a disservice by pairing him with two toads. they weren’t as smart as he was, they were twice his size, and he didn’t really have anything in common with them, aside from a love for crickets and a knack for making weird noises.

so now, my frog larry, had gone from being lonely to being outnumbered, and paired with two toads that had no idea what it was like to live free. his mental strain was evident.

so i swore to myself that i would set larry free, back into the wild where the wind could blow through his hair and he might have the chance of befriending a tarty lady frog whom he could have adult relations with. however, the day before this was to take place, darryl escaped.

it was a horrible day. i woke up to find him in the hallway, mangled but barely alive. i had to kill him with a log in my backyard so he wouldn’t suffer. i was crying, so i missed him the first swing. as the second blow made contact, darryl made this horrible little squeak sound that i won’t soon forget. and there’s me standing in my bra and underwear, having a small, teary ceremony in the flower bed shortly before i called in late to work. later, i found out that though seemingly injured, darryl had displayed his ‘defensive’ stance in response to the cats in the house, and was in all likelihood in perfect health. right before i killed him. on purpose. for no good reason.

so with larry back in the wild, and only the other brother darryl left, i had to get at least get one more. and because i can be talked into a lot of things, brought the other brother darryl home two new pals, houdini and peewee. they have lived simply and happily until yesterday, when i left their screen propped open and they escaped into the night as i was drinking wine on the phone, doing my best chatty kathy impersonation.

so this morning, panic set in when i noticed their tank and nobody in it.

i scoured the house as much as i could before work, and found little peewee in the kitchen inside a container that was inside a container with other containers. he was like that fucking wood, russian doll that is under like 18 layers of an always bigger doll. i have no idea how he made it as far as he did (and my father, the doctorate of biology that he is, was as completely astounded as i was).

my roommate scott called a few hours later, having found 2 of 3 in his bedroom. i wasn’t sure who he found, but i figured that i would look further when i got home from work today and figure out who was still missing.

what i didn’t realize was is that the only way i can identify darryl is seeing him near houdini, as darryl is an exact replica of houdini only larger. but when i only had one, how the hell do you tell who is who? without tom, jerry’s just a fucking mouse nobody cares about.

anyway, we’ve got an MIA situation on our hands, and after more thorough scouring, i am no closer to finding hou-darryl. in fact, looking for something that is potentially mobile is awful. at least if you lose a cell phone, you can stop looking in the same place after about 4 or 5 times. but something that moves? you have to keep looking in all the places every time you look. it’s exhausting.

i would rather know he was dead and know where he was. in all likelihood, he’s somewhere stuck, dying, hungry, miserable, injured, scared, and covered in dog hair.

i hate caring about retarded ass toads. what is wrong with me? i am so weak, i nauseate myself.

anyway, i notice that peewee and his other half are spending time in the waterbowl together, no doubt regaling one another with stories about what their precious hours of freedom on the outside were like. and maybe they will elevate hou-darryl to some lofty, outlaw status. and they will always remember him when they are older and think, “man, what do you think ever happened to that guy? he was so brave.”

we all fought the good fight today. i did what i had to do. and there will be no mother of the year patch for my sash. and neither of those two dumb toads left will ever appreciate the care i put into feeding them and making their tank the most fun toad amusement park that i can. i am not their god, or their mother. i am their warden, and they don’t understand that their highly controlled life inside is only to protect them from a world that they are not ready for. not yet. not on my watch.