I’m going to tell you a story about another guinea pig. His name was Lee. He was very near and dear to my heart. This is a very painful story for me to tell. But, I think it’s something everyone needs to hear. It is a story that breaks my heart each time I tell it…a story that tears my soul…a story that no one that loves guinea pigs should ever experience… This is the first part of a three part tale about Lee…
One Saturday in spring I went out yard sale shopping around my neighborhood. I remember that it was a glorious day. The sun was out, the sky was blue, there was a slight breeze, and the temperature was just perfect. I parked on the street in the middle of several houses that were doing good business for a yard sale. As I roamed from property to property, I was greeted and met many new people. I browsed the selection not really looking for anything in particular.
I stopped at the final house in the cluster and went through some tables of items. That’s when I noticed the cage. I saw a small animal cage in the shade in the garage. It said “Guinea Pig for Sale $10.00”. Appalled by the sign, I walked over to investigate. I got down on my knees and saw a pure white guinea pig with red eyes. ‘Albino,’ I thought. He was small but curious. He limped over the side of the cage to investigate me. “Hey, sweetie,” I cooed at him. He raised his noise to me and I put my finger through the cage bars to scratch his nose.
“His name is ‘Bruce Lee’” a lady’s voice came from behind me.
“Oh?” I said standing up to talk with her, “How did that little guy get such a big name?” I asked.
“Well,” she sighed, “He used to have a girl but she passed recently,” she looked down at the ground, “Her name was ‘Janet Lee’,” she stated.
“Your kids must like kung-foo movies,” I laughed.
“Yes,” she said, “But when Janet died suddenly, my daughter was so upset she stopped taking care of Bruce…”
“Is that why he’s here?” I asked.
“Yes,” she confirmed.
“I think this is the best thing for him. I want him to go to a loving house…” Her next words sounded more like an apology than a statement, “The money is just to prevent idiots from just taking him and not caring for him.”
“I understand,” I said. “Tell me about him. Why does he limp?”
“Well,” she said with a bit of hope in her voice, “He has a bit of a stumpy leg. That’s why we took him in…when he runs it’s so cute. We fell in love with him. He so gentle and sweet…a nice guy…”
“Can I hold him?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said with a smile. She bent down in the cage and scooped up Bruce Lee. He fit nicely in the palm of her hand. “Here,” she said handing him to me.
I sighed when he was put in my hands. It was so nice to hold a guinea pig again. He was small but cute, all white, and he had the neatest white eyes.
I sat down on a chair to do a quick health and temperament assessment to the best of my limited abilities. I placed him on his back on my lap. He sat there and looked at me curiously. ‘That’s a positive,’ I thought. I checked his belly for obvious issues. Nothing. I checked his ears and teeth. They both looked good. His private areas were clean and clear of obvious issues. The only issue was that one of his legs was slightly smaller than the others. I looked at the pad on the foot. It was normal. The leg seemed normal but a bit small. The small leg didn’t raise any red flags for health issues.
I let Bruce Lee sit there on his back for several moments to see what he would do. Nothing. Bruce Lee just laid there. In fact I think that he was becoming comfortable and beginning to fall asleep. I scooped him up and held him on my chest with both hands.
I looked down at him and began to talk with him. “Do you want to come home with me?” I asked. Bruce Lee yawned and snuggled into my chest. He closed his eyes and sighed. I sat and stared at him in amazement. He had just adopted me.
My quiet moment with Bruce Lee was interrupted by a bunch of teenagers walking up to the cage and kicking it. They began to laugh as they looked for the guinea pig. One was saying, “Ten bucks! Let’s get it and have some fun.”
The lady from the house walked up to them and told them that she wasn’t going to sell the guinea pig to them and to cut it out.
That’s when I stood up, “Besides,” I said loudly, “He’s been adopted already…”
The ring leader turned to me and said, “I’ll give you $20 for that thing.”
“This is a guinea pig. His name is Lee. He is not for sale. Go away.” I declared. It was me, the lady of the house, and a small guinea pig versus 5 rowdy teenagers. The ring leader snarled at me. ‘Me and my big mouth,’ is all I could think. I folded Lee into my arms as safely as best I could to hide him from the boys.
“Boys,” the lady of the house said, “Please leave. The guinea pig is not for sale. That’s his owner.” This request elicited a giggle from the group.
Just then salvation arrived. A male voice called, “Gentlemen, the lady asked you to leave…so go now…boys…” A large man stepped into my view just outside of the garage door. The sun shone on all 6’4” and 250 pounds of his pure muscle. This dude could have been in an action movie with the real Bruce Lee.
The teenagers all turned a ghostly white. The leader wisely declared, “Let’s go, this house is lame.” They half walked / jogged past the guy.
“Can I talk to you about your free-weight set for sale?” the savior asked.
“Sure,” the lady said a bit dumbfounded, “Let me just finish here…” The guy nodded his head and walked off to the tables outside the garage. “Uhmmm,” she said and turned to me. “Lee?” she asked after a small pause.
“It came out…” was all I could say.
“It fits,” she said.
“Yes,” I acknowledged, “He’s a lover…not a fighter.”
She laughed, “Take good care of him…” She turned and started to walk away.
“Wait,” I called, “What about your money?”
“You already love him…that’s payment enough…” she continued out of the garage. I was left with a small bundle of white fur in my arms. When I looked down I saw Lee was sleeping. He had left a small thank you gift in my hand…a bean.
Next Week: “The Story of Lee – Part Two– Guinea Pig Settles In“”