The crows tried to warn me as I was walking back from the bus stop. The local murder was up in a fir tree behind the neighbor’s house, and they carried on until I called back. I think they knew I didn’t quite understand, I was busy planning out my day. Just let it be known they tried to warn me. It isn’t their fault.
This was, of course, the day after I witnessed Squirrel!Neo’s training. My fence was still intact. (We’ll get to the fence in the next post, I promise. Bear with me.) I kind of wondered if anything would happen while I was on the treadmill, but it was dead quiet.
I did see Mercutio!Jay, stuffing himself with bread in the usual manner. The crows came down and picked at the bread too, ignoring Mercutio’s bad-tempered screeching. They paid me no mind, having apparently done all they could. All was serene.
It wasn’t until I was on my fifth and final mile that I realized something was happening. I tore my earbuds out and listened, trying to focus over the soughing of my breath and the sound of the treadmill’s motor, the pounding of my feet. If I still had the old squeaky treadmill I never would have noticed it. Scrabbling sounds? Something?
What the hell is that? I listened as hard as I could all through the final mile, which passed agonizingly slowly without music. Huh. It’s coming from the roof.
As soon as I finished the last mile I hit the stop button. Breathing hard, covered in sweat, I cocked my head and was rewarded.
Well, maybe rewarded isn’t the right word. It sounded like there was a goddamn moose on my roof.
What the– I seriously did not even get to finish the thought. It was at that moment the squirrel fell.
It gamely tried to grab the birdfeeder hanging in front of the sunroom window, missed, and plunged to the grass. It was up again in an instant, shaking its head, and another one followed, making the same desperate grab for the feeder.
“Jesus!” I yelled, actually jumping on the treadmill. Squirrels 1 and 2 scrambled for the fence to my right, buttonhooking around the edge of my garage, and the scrabbling on the roof intensified.
And another squirrel fell.
I stared. It’s raining Rodentia. No, they’ve gone lemming. Wait–they’re lying in wait for Santa a few months early. What the bloody hell?
Another squirrel hurtled down, making the same grab for the feeder. “Ohhhhhhh,” I breathed. “You sonsabitches! That’s for the bloody birds, you morons!”
I kept ranting. The squirrels kept falling.
At this point I realized I was standing on my treadmill, dripping with sweat, screaming in my sunroom while squirrels streaked to earth like meteors. I realized there was about five of them, and they were running laps–around the corner of my garage, up the juniper bush around the front, onto the roof, across the house to the sunroom, and searching for a way to get to the birdfeeder. They were determined, and one actually grabbed the lip of the feeder and was spun as it twirled on its rope, then shaken off and flung to the ground. By that point, they were all looking a bit stunned.
The last one to fall off was Squirrel!Neo. I’d recognize that cocked tail and beady glare anywhere. He lay for a second in the dew-wet grass, then hopped to his feet and stared at me. We stood like that, woman and squirrel, both of us out of breath. I swallowed the last half of the sentence I was about to yell.
This isn’t over, he seemed to be saying. Bitch, this is so not over.
At this point, I’m afraid, my temper snapped. “Oh, yeah?” I put both hands on my hips. “Bring it, you fuzzy-assed moron. Bring it.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he scampered away. There was a final scurry on my roof, heading for the bedrooms and the hedge and fence. The squirrels all disappeared into the hedge, and I began to feel a little nervy. I tried to tell myself it was just a squirrel, and after all, I had Mercutio on my side, right? I was the tool-using mammal with the opposable thumb and thousands of years of technology on my side. I could handle a squirrel.
I had no idea what was coming.