Three AM. Wearing only a Jedi bathrobe, I stumble for the back door, because His Majesty the Trundler has decided he needs to pee right now. Which is fine, because when he went for the water bowl right before bed and sucked down half of it, I pretty much knew we’d be doing this. We reach the door, I pull it open while yawning, Sir Odd trundles halfway out…and stops dead right between my ankles, his head sticking out of the bathrobe and the rest of him shaking with excitement.
Odd Trundles: ERMAGERD ALERT ALERT ALERT
Me: What the–oh.
Gentleman Raccoon: (A fine specimen, looking up from the deck railing and blinking against the porch light) I thought this place was empty. Evenin’, ma’am.
Me: Oh holy cow. Evening. Um–
Odd: SAVE ME MUM OOOH WRIGGLE WRIGGLE BARK
Miss B: (from my bedroom, since she had decided she wasn’t getting up to herd Odd around the back yard, for once) WHAT THE FUCK YOU PEOPLE?
Me: (clamping ankles together around wiggling puppy) Odd, back up, back up–
Mad Tortoiseshell Cat: (sauntering up the steps and onto the deck, since she had refused to come in before bed) Ohai, you guys–hey, what’s that?
Me: Oh Jesus Christ cat stop they eat cats…
Gentleman R: (very calmly) That one looks sour, ma’am. That big loud thang looks like a snossidge, tho.
Miss B: (Arriving breathless, sticking her head out the door) CAN I HERD IT? HEEERD IT?
Me: EVERYONE GET THE FUCK INSIDE…
Gentleman R: Dayum, y’all are loud. Guess I’m going up this-hyear tree trunk til the fussin dies down… (And he goes up the trunk of the huge pine next to the deck, hangs upside down, and blinks sleepily at all of us…)
Odd: ERMAGERD ERMAGERD snortwhistlefart SO EXCITED NEW FRIEND
Me: (to dogs) Goddamn you, NO. NO! Kitty, kitty, come inside, please God come inside–
Mad Tortie: Oh, I’ll just wander off into the darkness, it’ll be fine…
Me: COME BACK–(hauling Odd’s scruff) and you too, and no (using my rear end to scoot Miss B back, using the bulk of the Jedi bathrobe to help) it is 3AM we are not doing this–
Miss B: OH PLEASE IT LOOKS LIKE IT CAN RUN, LET ME HERD IT!
Me: No for Chrissake–this is not the sheep you’re looking for–
Gentleman R: (grinning and showing his very sharp teeth) Hey, ma’am? Ma’am? Got any fudz?
It took twenty minutes to calm Odd down, and Miss B was quite put out that she had been awakened and not allowed to chase what looked like a small gray sheep with a mask.
“I COULD HAVE HAD HIM, TOO. HE DIDN’T LOOK FAST.”
Shut up, B. Anyway, then Odd realized he really did need to pee, so we went and looked, but the Masked Gentleman had just come down the tree trunk and was on the railing, casting about hopefully for anything snackable. Another ten minutes produced the all-clear, but then Odd would not pee unless I personally escorted him down the stairs and was standing nearby.
He is very brave, Odd Trundles, but only when he is between my ankles. If I am ever attacked by ankle-biting zombies, he’ll be all over that. Maybe.
So there I am in my bathrobe, hoping that a masked gentleman will not come out of the shadows and surprise me, and I realize that once again I was standing barefoot in my backyard…but at least I wasn’t screaming, which I usually am at the end of a Squirrel!Terror episode. And I began to laugh like a loon.
The neighbors probably don’t think much of me right now. But at least I got everyone back inside–including the Mad Tortie, who had not been eaten (I was so cranky I snarled “More’s the pity, now get your cat ass inside!” and she wisely did not argue) and Odd, who was reliving his moment of ankle-defending glory. “I FEEL LIGHTER!” he barked, wriggling so hard he almost could not trundle. “DID I JUST PEE? I THINK I DID. LOOK, THERE WAS SOMETHING HERE. I SWEAR THERE WAS. DID YOU SEE IT? I SAW IT. HEY, IS IT BREAKFAST TIME?” I locked the door, shepherded him back into his crate, and stood there for a minute, shaking with adrenaline leftovers.
Miss B looked up from my bed and cocked her head. I could swear she sniffed and then said “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”