So I was hoping that my third attempt to bury a squirrel would be, so to speak, the charm.
Okay. Let me start closer to the beginning. I thought it would be a great idea to scatter the pumpkin seeds from our jack o’lanterns over the grave. It did occur to me that pumpkin seeds are Squirrel Food, so I had some hazy idea of propitiating the squirrel gods and making an offering to keep the little headless bastard down. (You will notice that I am putting absolutely nothing past these fuzzy little ninjas.) Plus I figured it might be good for the bluejays and other little critters as well, since things were getting chilly.
I prepared myself with the Sandal of Doom and wandered out in broad midafternoon daylight, a huge metal Ikea bowl full of pumpkin guts covered with foil propped against my hip. The coast appeared clear.
Halfway across the yard, however, it became clear that things were not well at the gravesite. I’d buried the Headless One pretty deep…but apparently not deep enough. I stood stock-still, caught midstride, as I contemplated the disturbed dirt.
“Well, f!ck,” I breathed, disgusted, and caught sight of the Mad Siamese Cat. This is the early cat that every morning attacks the wooden wall behind the huge dustbin I can see through the burned-out hole in my fence. He–I’m assuming it’s a he, I haven’t gone close enough to check–flings himself at the wood like it’s personally insulted him. After a few bodyblows, he jumps up and digs his claws in, gets to the top of the wooden wall, yowls, and then flings himself off into space. The hedge means I can’t see where he lands, but I’m sure it’s spectacular. Every morning he does this.
I don’t even know.
Anyway, the Mad Siamese was sauntering along the top of my fence, placing each paw gracefully. He leapt down near one of the blueberry bushes, stalked over to the back corner, and proceeded to flop himself down on the disturbed grave and start rolling in what seemed to be a brand of feline ecstasy.
“What the…” My jaw dropped. I could not even form words.
He rolled some more, then he jumped up, circled a couple times like he was going to lay down, lifted his haunches in the air, and started digging. Clods of wet dirt flew, and I gathered my wits.
“What the hell?” I yelled. “You’re DISTURBING THE DEAD, you f!cking crazyass feline! What’s WRONG with you?”
I must have scared him. Because he leapt–I am not kidding–at least four feet straight up and twisted, landed hard, staring at me with wide, crazed blue eyes. His tail was the size of a raccoon’s, and a stripe of fur on his back stood straight up. He actually growled, too. I’m not up on my Mad Siamese, but I am fairly sure it translated out to: “BITCH I WAS HAVING FUN! WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?”
Now, I hadn’t gone through burying this squirrel twice to be scared off by an insane, inbred chunk of cat. “Oh, please,” I said, shaking the sandal in my left fist. “I’ve faced down a zombie squirrel, a punkass cat like you is no trouble. I’ll kick your ass, cat. Leave the dead in peace, willya?”
Mad Siamese took off to my left, yowling, heading for the juniper hedge. I felt good about that for all of about two seconds, because Juliet!Jay appeared out of nowhere, sailing after him with a gleam in her eye and business in every wingflap. I didn’t think it was possible for a silent bird to chase an exponentially-bigger cat off, but Juliet was motivated. Plus, I’m sure my shaking of the sandal had something to do with it.
So I had to get out the shovel once more, because little bits of the Headless Squirrel were sticking up through the dirt. He really looked a bit worse for wear, poor thing, and I got him buried a little deeper and tamped down the dirt pretty hard. Juliet!Jay returned and watched from the fence. She was close enough that I could see every feather, and she examined the proceedings with bright-eyed interest.
“It’s not Neo,” I finally said, whapping the dirt with the shovel to pack it nice and hard. “Seriously. I’ve seen that little crooked-tailed bastard running around. You should stick to Romeo!Jay, you know. He’s a badass, and he’s the strong silent type. You’ll like that. Hell, I’d like that. You’re lucky. Just consider it, okay? He really likes you.”
I just want to register that I was reburying a headless squirrel and giving love advice to a lady bluejay in the middle of the afternoon, while a sandal dangled from my left wrist and a big bowl of pumpkin guts stood off to the side.
You cannot make this shit up. Anyway.
“HEY! HEY GUYS! WHATCHA DOING?” Mercutio!Jay showed up, sailing across the yard and landing on the fence. He immediately started bitching because I wasn’t spreading any bread. I swear to God Juliet rolled her eyes. I actually dropped the shovel, the goddamn loudmouth scared me so bad. “SERIOUSLY, WHERE’S THE BREAD? YOU’RE USUALLY SPREADING BREAD. I’M HUNGRY. HEY, THE BIRDFEEDER’S NICE AND ALL, BUT WHERE’S MY BREAD? AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT IS THAT IN THE SHINY THING? IS IT BREAD?”
I dumped the pumpkin guts over the grave. “Shut up,” I told Mercutio!Jay, who fluttered a bit and didn’t screech. “Here lieth the Headless Squirrel, who is not Squirrel!Neo. Let’s hope he stays buried, because this is really getting–”
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” There it was. THAT SOUND. Again.
I let out a girly little half-scream and jumped out of my skin. For lo, Squirrel!Neo had returned.
“JESUS CHRIST!” Mercutio!Jay yelled. I bent, grabbed the shovel, and started backing up, trying to shake the sandal free just in case. I only succeeded in dumping the wadded-up tinfoil out, because I’d forgotten I was carrying the bowl. I didn’t realize I was yelling too. I won’t write what I was yelling, I’ll just say it was obscene and leave it at that. (I think I used the F-bomb as every part of speech in the time it took Neo to get to the pussywillow tree.)
Juliet, however, held her ground. She drew herself up, and fire sparked in her little black eyes.
“WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?” she screamed, and took off for him. She hit him good, too, and he actually fell off the fence, through a blueberry bush, and bounced. He quit making THAT SOUND, probably because he was dazed.
I didn’t blame him.
I was backing up, hopping down from the railroad ties, bowl in one hand, shovel in the other, sandal flapping, my jaw dropping. Juliet, however, was just picking up steam. “I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! I WAS F!CKING MOURNING YOUR FUZZY ASS, WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?”
Squirrel!Neo, however doughty he may be, was no match for a pissed-off lady jay. He gained his feet and chittered, but she was having none of it. She zoomed down on him in a furious burst of blue feathers, and spanked him all the way back to the juniper hedge. He vanished into the hedge and she spent another few minutes flying back and forth and yelling at the top of her lungs.
“THAT’S RIGHT! THAT’S F!CKING RIGHT, YOU’D BETTER HIDE! WHEN I CATCH YOU I’M GOING TO, OOOH YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I’M GONNA DO, I WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOU! YOU IRRESPONSIBLE LITTLE FUZZY-ARSED MORON! SEE IF I EVER DRINK A POTION FOR YOU EVER AGAIN!”
Mercutio!Jay had settled on the fence again. We both watched her in wonderment.
Finally, she’d finished, and she coasted back across the yard and settled on the fence, right where she was when the whole thing started. She gave me a baleful glance, and I raised both the shovel and the bowl, trying for a “hey man I’m harmless” stance. She glanced at Romeo, who actually hopped back nervously.
I cleared my throat. “Yeah. Uh. Okay.” I took a couple steps backward. “I’ll, just. Yeah. Go in and get some bread for you.”
She made a little chittering noise. “SEE THAT YOU DO, MONKEY. JUST SEE THAT YOU DO.”
Seriously, would you mess with her after all that?
So far the grave has stayed unmolested. All three jays have shown up like clockwork for bread every day, and I think Juliet might be taking my advice. Neo doesn’t seem too heartbroken.
He has other problems. Like CornPops.
But more about that later…