Lizard Music begins when eleven-year-old Victor’s parents go away for a two-week vacation. Before they leave, they spend hours and hours giving annoying instructions, taping emergency numbers to the fridge, and apologizing for not taking Victor along. They expect Victor’s crazy seventeen-year-old sister, Leslie, to take care of him in their absence. The day after they leave, Leslie announces that she is going on a vacation of her own. She packs a bag, climbs into a van with a bunch of her hippie friends, and leaves. Victor is on his own.
Victor is glad to have some time to himself. On his first night alone, he eats a TV dinner and watches his favorite show: the news. He is not a big fan of the prime-time programs that come on after the news, so he works on a model airplane for a few hours. Then, taking advantage of the fact that nobody is around to tell him to go to bed, he watches the late-night horror movie. Afterward, a musical band of lizards—real lizards, not people in lizard costumes—comes onscreen. Victor watches, wondering what this is all about, until he falls asleep on the couch.
In the morning, Victor decides that he ought to do something interesting with his newfound freedom. He decides to ride a bus to Hogboro, a nearby city, because he has never done that on his own. In the bus on the way, he watches a man perform a series of magic tricks with a live chicken. Everyone calls the performer Chicken Man.
In Hogboro, Victor simply wanders. Eventually he finds a faded poster advertising the lizard band he saw on TV. This gives him the idea of buying the lizard band’s record. He plans to look for a record store, so he turns back toward the bus station. A storm starts, and he hops into a doorway to get out of the rain. There he is surprised to find the Chicken Man, who introduces his chicken, Claudia, and then pulls a live lizard out of his pocket. This scares Victor so much that he runs away and hops a bus home. At home, he finds a business card in his pocket. It lists the Chicken Man’s name as Herr Doktor Professor Horace Kupeckie, Plt.D.
After drying off from the rain, Victor makes a TV dinner and spends the evening much as he spent the previous one. This time when he watches the news, he sees a lizard on the newscaster’s shoulder. He works on his airplane model through the prime-time shows, one of which is a nature show about lizards. When the late news comes on, Victor is impressed with the anchor, who does interviews of people on the street. One of the interviewees is the Chicken Man, who says hello to Victor while onscreen. After the news, Victor watches the late-night movie, Invasion of the Pod People. It is about aliens that create replicas of people, eat the original people, and then take over their lives. The pod people look just like ordinary people, but they are odd and emotionless. Victor enjoys the movie very much. When the lizards come on afterward, he feels happy, and he falls asleep on the couch.
In the morning, Victor decides that he needs to figure out what is going on with the lizards and the Chicken Man. He starts by making a list of all the odd things that have happened since his family left town. He calls the local TV station and learns that nothing but static should appear on his TV after the late-night movie. Victor tries to ask about the lizard on the newscaster’s shoulder as well, but the man from the TV station hangs up on him.
Victor tells himself that he is like a news reporter researching a news story. He takes a notebook and goes back to Hogboro. He checks the window where he saw the poster for the lizard band, but it is gone. He feels disappointed and turns around—to see a giant lizard approaching. For a moment he thinks it is real, but then he realizes it is an advertisement for the zoo printed on the side of a city bus: another coincidence.
Victor’s mouth goes dry, and he walks into a candy store to buy a soda. On a whim, he asks the owner of the store, Shane Fergussen, if he knows the Chicken Man. It turns out that the Chicken Man comes to the store every night to hang out and watch the lizards on TV. Shane Fergussen hands over the Chicken Man’s business card, but this one is different; it lists the man’s name as Hubert Van Eyck.
After he finishes his soda, Victor decides to go to the zoo. He waits at the bus stop, and soon a taxi pulls up. The driver looks like the Chicken Man but calls himself Charles Swan. Victor accepts a ride, and he spends the afternoon happily studying the animals, especially the big cats. He stays so late that by the time he gets home, he has already missed half of that evening’s news.
Victor does not feel like a TV dinner tonight, so he makes himself eggs instead. He watches a talk show, which he does not normally do. While listening to the participants’ vapid conversation, he suddenly realizes they are all pod people. He cries—he feels horrified that the world is being overrun by the strange, human-like creatures who do not care about anything. On reflection, he realizes that he is not a pod person. Neither is Shane Fergussen or the Chicken Man. But most people are, including his sister, Leslie.
When the lizard band comes on TV, Victor calls Shane Fergussen’s candy store and asks to speak to the Chicken Man. They make an appointment to meet the following day in the reptile house at the zoo. Afterward, Victor watches the lizards on TV play a talk show game called You Bet Your Duck, and then he goes to bed.
When Victor meets the Chicken Man, the first thing he wants to know is his real name. The Chicken Man invites Victor to pick whichever name he likes best, and Victor chooses Charles Swan. From this moment onward, Victor calls him Charlie. Next Victor asks about the...
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