So there I was, barefoot and open-mouthed, clutching my coffee cup and trying to make some sense of what my wondering eyes were seeing.
At first it was all a blur. A grayish blur on a spinning SQUIRRELPROOF 5000. Then I saw a lashing tail, and I realized the Mad Tortie was hanging onto the ivy on the bottom of that Venerable Straight-Backed Pine, and she was batting at the blur as it went past her. Then the rope would arrest its motion, the pendulum would swing back, and she would bat again.
“VIVE LE SQUIRRRRRRRL!”
I rubbed at my eyes. The cat was deadly silent, all business. It was Odd Trundles underneath the trapeze act, absolutely beside himself, making all the commotion. “NEW FRIEND!” he was barking. “NEW FRIEND NEW FRIEND! *snortwhistlefart* EXCITED! EXCITEDNEWFRIENDNEWFRIEND!”
Miss B sat on the concrete path, viewing this spectacle with her head cocked at an angle that somehow managed to convey interest, wonder, and befuddlement all at once.
“VIVE LE SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL! LE JOUR DE GLOIRE EST ARRIVE! MARCHONS! MARCHONS!”
You guessed it. The gray blur was Squirrel!Napoleon.
I don’t know if he had been trying to get into the feeder and having no luck, or if he had just decided today was the day he’d find out what that thing in his yard was, or if the cat had treed him and he had saved himself by leaping on the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000, or even if the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 had just looked at him funny. He seemed to take little to no notice of the cat, instead being wholly occupied with riding his little squirrel- and bird-proof pony while screaming imprecations at Odd Trundles, who was so excited he had to stop and pee, barking all the while, his back leg half-raising and then thumping down like he was a rabbit warning us all of Impending Doom. (He doesn’t quite have the “lift the leg while peeing” thing down yet. It’s a work in progress.)
It seemed like I stood there forever, but in reality it was only a few moments before I collected myself and realized that if I didn’t sort this mess out nobody would. So I started down the stairs, cursing as I stepped on a pinecone, and almost fell and broke my fool neck. Coffee sloshed, and it was at that point I realized I was flat-out irked.
“VIVE LE SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRL! I WAVE MY PRIVATE PARTS AT YOUR AUNTIES!” (Should I mention that Napoleon!Squirrel has an OUTRAGEOUS accent?)
The next few things happened very quickly.
Odd Trundles got so excited he ran straight at the ivy-covered tree. Maybe he expected it to dodge, as his humans so often do? Unfortunately the Venerable Straight-Backed Pine has had little experience with bulldogs, so it just…stood there. Odd’s cranium met the ivy and the bark beneath with a resounding crunch, he yelped and lost his breath. (I really don’t know what he was expecting, but he is not the brightest bulb in the marquee. This is a dog who forgets to breathe sometimes. ‘Nuff said.) He staggered away, dazed, and for some reason that was the thing that prodded Miss B into action.
Australian Shepherds are incredibly agile canines. B in particular is a very fine jumper. She can literally do a standing jump right into my face, and has more than once. So it was really no trick for her to get up, shake her ruff, take a couple steps, and launch herself for the screaming little bastard on the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 DEATHRIDE.
I inhaled to scream “OH HELL NOOOOOO” but never got there. Because the Mad Tortie, for reasons all her own, had decided she’d had enough of this fat little gray bastard too, and did an amazing Matrix-esque backflip off the Venerable Straight-Backed Pine.
Miss B had timed her jump perfectly. So had the Mad Tortie. However, neither of them had taken into account one very important factor, namely: each other.
Miss B was the first to land, with a very un-dainty “OOF”, thankfully in the grass. It seemed to ring her chimes pretty good. The Mad Tortie, being smaller, was thrown a further distance by the sudden surprise application of force. Hissing and spitting, she landed near the fence, shredding a fern and throwing up chunks of bark mulch. (As I write this, the fern has not recovered. God knows I don’t blame it.)
The instigator of All This Ruckus screamed with delight. “VIVE LE SQIURRRRRLLLLLP–”
His cry of victory was cut short as he realized he was airborne. The force of the collision had knocked him free of the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 DEATHRIDE. And by this time, Odd Trundles had regained his breath and what (little) wit he possessed, and was scrabbling after his newly-discovered friend as fast as his stumpy legs could trundle.
He’s very fast over short distances, that little bulldog.
I actually dropped my coffee cup and grabbed the banister–I hadn’t managed to make it more than halfway down the stairs. “OH GOD,” I yelled. I was planning on following it up with a NOT THE WINDOW CHRISTJESUS PLEASE, but before I could…
…le Tarzan Napoleon, the Bold and Brave, hit.
Hit the garage window.
I swear I saw the glass ripple. Then the only sound I heard was his little claws skritching as he frantically sought purchase and could find none. He slid down the unbroken (no thanks to him) window, arms and legs working so fast they blurred. His rear legs hit the bottom of the window and finally found purchase, which meant he flipped and belly-flopped into the bark mulch with another thud that seemed far too loud for such a small creature.
“NEWFRIEND!” Odd Trundles howled, and flung himself on his pal, to lick and succor and aid in his time of need. I managed to get in half a breath and stumble down a few more stairs, thinking of blood and rabies and oh my GOD what next?
“VIVE LE SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRRRL!” Napoleon had regained himself and zipped out from under Odd Trundles’s descending bulk. Odd gave chase, almost running into the chain-link fence on the right-hand side of the yard. Napoleon shimmied up, then surveyed his handiwork.
One dazed Australian Shepherd, getting up and shaking her head over and over. “WHAT THE HELL?”
One back-arched cat in the ruins of a fern, puffed up to three times her normal size and spit-hissing at the world in general.
One SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 DEATHRIDE, which described a graceful arc across the yard and hit the side of the shed with a musical bong! that would have been incredibly funny in other circumstances. (At least it wasn’t a window.)
One bulldog puppy, barking excitedly as he squatted right next to the fence under the conqueror, peeing again–he just couldn’t contain himself, I guess.
And me, with both hands clapped over my mouth and bugged-out eyes, barefoot and uncaffeinated because my coffee was seeping into the rhododendron I’d dropped my mug into. I dropped my hands, and said the only thing I could.
“Motherfucker. Squirrel-proof my ass.”
Napoleon gazed upon his backyard, and found it good. “I SHALL TAUNT YOU A SECOND TIME!” he screamed, shook his tail at Odd Trundles, and leapt into the neighbor’s yard, vanishing into their cedar hedge. It took me forever to calm Odd Trundles down, the cat is still jumpy and nervous, Miss B was unwontedly quiet for the remainder of that day. (I think her dignity–such as it is–was touched.) I had to fish my coffee cup out of the rhododendron and go upstairs and clean up and make myself a fresh cup. I still don’t know what the neighbors thought of the whole thing, if they heard it at all. I managed to get the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 DEATHRIDE picked up and dumped out the mess of the science experiment. (The birds found it intriguing, and ate every last bit of it, mold, mycelium, and all.)
And that was how I came to buy another bird feeder. A nice cedar gazebo one that is not squirrelproof. And I hung it from the yellow nylon rope. Because apparently I just do not know when to quit either.
Your move, Napoleon. Your fucking move.