I really should mow the grass.
I say this because the herbiage is now long enough to give Squirrel!Neo plenty of cover as he goes about his business in my back yard. This grants him, as a Ninja Squirrel, a certain latitude of action. Like the peanut he tried to break my sunroom window with this morning…
…this may require a little explanation, actually.
I was on the treadmill, powering my way through the third of five miles. I call it the break mile, because once I’ve finished it I might as well finish out the whole bloody hour, right? Since I’m over halfway. It’s just one of those little tricks I use to keep myself running. Anyway, I was on the treadmill, with a box of tissues. Because the cold still has me in a grip–well, not quite of iron, perhaps just of lead. Something a bit softer, but still metallic.
It had just begun to rain, and I could see the bread scattered earlier this morning for the bluejays and crows slowly getting sodden. If the birds don’t get it the possums will, and don’t talk to me about the possums. I am bribing them in the hopes that they will be allies when the squirrels try to hack my house. (I’m not saying this keeps me up at night, okay? I’m just saying prudence is a virtue.) Remember the bread, all right? Trust me, it’s important.
So along comes Squirrel!Neo. He’s head-down in the grass, tail twitching as he buries something a few feet from the window directly in front of me. I swear I can see every hair on the fuzzy little bastard’s rear. What happened next surprised us both.
I sneezed. I grabbed for a tissue, since it was a wet one. (Between the sweating and the sneezing, it was a very damp morning in there.) And something hit the window.
An actual peanut. I think someone in the neighborhood actually feeds these beasts.
That son of a bitch squirrel threw a peanut at me. He sat straight up, from the tuft of grass he’d fled to, apparently in terror, after chucking the peanut to save his miserable life.
It startled me, so I swore. Loudly. And Squirrel!Neo chittered. At least, I think he did, I had my earbuds in but I saw his little chest and mouth moving. I don’t know squirreltongue, but I believe I can translate what he was saying.
“BITCH! I KNOW KUNG FU! FIRST TIME IT’S A PEANUT! NEXT TIME I KICK YOU IN THE HEAD!”
And you know, that actually upset me a little. Because I have done nothing to this squirrel other than laugh at the cats when he shows up. Maybe he thinks I’m laughing at him? I don’t know. But the injustice of the situation struck me quite strongly at the moment. So I did what anyone would have done.
I yelled back. (Those among you who are easily offended or have tender ears may wish to quit reading now, while you’re ahead.)
“MOTHERF!CKER!” I yelled. “DON’T YOU F!CKING THREATEN ME! WHO GAVE YOU THAT GODDAMN PEANUT?! YOU BREAK MY WINDOW THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY!”
Now, I of course knew that a peanut, even flung by The One, would not break the window. And I didn’t give a good-glory-goddamn where he got that peanut from. But when I get to cursing, the most amazing things come out of my mouth, things that have only a tenuous connection to logic. I mean, I wish I could taunt like John Cleese, but this is the best I can do, so I commit, you know?
Squirrel!Neo fled to the tenuous purchase of a red wagon the kids left in the middle of the yard. As he did, I caught sight of something amazing falling from the arc of his beautiful jump.
Yes, friends and neighbors. I literally scared the shit out of Squirrel!Neo. He scampered off into the plum tree, probably feeling a few ounces lighter.
By this time I was torn between embarrassment, gratification, the urge to laugh like a hyena, the aching in my legs, the fact that I did not have enough breath for all the multitasking I was doing, and a coughing fit. I think I coughed and swore through the next three minutes, an amazing clot of phlegm working free inside my chest. (I will NOT tell you what happened to the clot. I have some couth.)
Another mile and a half passed by, and I had almost recovered when I saw the little fuzzy bastard again. He sauntered out, bold as you please, and started working on the soggy bread. (I told you to remember the bread.)
Well, of course, I watched him. It was a tense detente.
Squirrel!Neo was so busy stuffing his face, in fact, that he didn’t notice the bluejay. (I had originally cast this jay as Mercutio, I suppose that’s as good a name as any.) One of a pair who frequents my backyard and scares everyone else at the birdfeeder, this particular jay likes to hang out in the pussywillow tree and roundly curse everyone in sight, or the weather, or what have you. He’s also incredibly jealous of bread. He won’t eat it if he’s already full, but he’ll be damned if he’ll let anyone take a bit of it. The only exception are the crows, who just sort of laugh at him as he jumps up and down screeching.
Anyway. Mercutio!Jay was unamused by this turn of events. He did not do what he usually does, which is stand up there and yell.
No. Mercutio hopped off the branch, glided down, and proceeded to beat the living hell out of Squirrel!Neo all the way across the yard. Once he was sure he had the fuzzy bastard on the run, he started yelling. Again, I’m no good at bluejaytongue, but I shall endeavor to translate.
“SONOFABITCH THAT’S MY GODDAMN BREAD! YOU KNOW KUNG FU? YOU KNOW KUNG FU? WELL I’M GODDAMN MERCUTIO, MOTHERF!CKER, AND I’LL WHOMP YOUR FUZZY ASS IN IAMBIC PENTAMETER!”
It’s a damn good thing I’d just finished my five miles. Because I barely had the wherewithal to hit the stop button. I stood there laughing so hard I cried, blowing my nose twice, coughing and sweating and sneezing. I actually got a vicious side-stitch from the whole deal, but here’s the best part.
Remember that peanut? The one Neo chucked at me? Well, after he chased the One across the yard, Mercutio!Jay flew back, still swearing at top volume, and picked up the peanut. That forced him to shut up. Still, he eyed me for a few seconds while in front of the window.
Then I swear to God, he winked and flew off.
And you know…he left the bread.