Training Is Everything

I only have a couple minutes today. There’s been more Squirrel Terror, so I’ll just update you on that. At least, I’ll update you on part of it. I just…I don’t even know.

Apparently Squirrel!Neo took getting laughed at pretty seriously. After his plan involving Mercutio ignominiously failed, we had a couple days of peace. Then, last week–maybe it was Tuesday, because my fence was still there (more on that later, I promise)–I climbed on the treadmill and was actually relaxing a little bit, thinking that I would have a nice easy run without any shenanigans.

I was wrong.

It didn’t take me long to realize Neo was lurking about. Not only that, but there was another squirrel in my yard. The two faced each other in sunlit grass, noses twitching, before Neo leapt on the intruder and a fursplosion occurred. The other squirrel would chitter contemptuously every time Neo was flung back.

I actually thought the newcomer was some punk looking to take over Neo’s territory, and of course, I started rooting for Neo. (Better the squirrel demon you know than a new one, right?) But something didn’t seem quite right, even when Mercutio!Jay showed up, perching on the fence and eying the proceedings with great interest.

Then something amazing happened.

Squirrel!Neo broke away, and I swear to God the other squirrel yelled, “Good game! Now, lap time! MOVE IT!”

And Squirrel!Neo (I am NOT making this up) headed for the plum tree like his tail was on fire.

He shimmied up the plum tree, foliage shook, and he leapt for the fence. Stuck the landing, barreled past a bemused Mercutio!Jay (who fluttered up to the hedge behind, still cocking his head in a bemused fashion) and jumped up into the pussywillow. He proceeded to perform a two-minute acrobatic routine in the willow, leaves fluttering madly, then he leapt back down to the fence and disappeared into the neighbor’s yard. Thirty seconds later he was back, streaking across open space past the other squirrel, who stood motionless.

Neo did this three times, acrobatics included. I was tired just watching him. Mercutio watched silently, and the other squirrel just stood there, watching, his tail occasionally twitching. He was a big dude, too. At least a head taller than Neo, which, granted, isn’t saying much. They’re squirrels. Still, he had great posture.

After the third lap, Neo skidded to a stop in the middle of the yard and looked at the bigger squirrel. They stared at each other, and then, I swear, the bigger squirrel nodded. They both broke at the same instant for the juniper hedge and vanished.

Mercutio!Jay coasted across the yard, settled in the feeder in front of my window, and had his breakfast. Every once in a while, he would stop and stare sidelong at the yard, as if trying to figure out what the hell he’d just seen. Once he finished pecking at the birdseed, he stopped, his wings flicking absently.

Then he tilted his head and stared at me, like he was trying to tell me we’d seen something momentous. I pondered this as I ran. It was almost the end of the third mile.

“Holy shit!!” I yelled, suddenly. “Oh my God!”

Mercutio hopped twice, like he couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it earlier.

“Holy shit!” I yelled again, as the mileage clicked over to mile four. “MERCUTIO! THAT WAS F!CKING MORPHEUS! HE’S TRAINING NEO! THAT WAS SQUIRREL KUNG FU TRAINING!”

I swear to God the bluejay rolled his eyes at me. He took off in a flash of blue feathers, and I began to laugh. Within sixty seconds, though, I’d stopped laughing, and not just because I was running.

Because I’d realized, you see, that Neo in training…well.

I’m a little afraid for my bluejay hero.

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