So, when last we spoke, a dead squirrel had just sailed overhead.
The goddamn things just won’t ever stay buried. Christ.
Anyway, as close as I can figure (as my grandfather used to say), the Mad Tortie had made the mistake of dragging her, um, acquisition under the fence. She couldn’t just toss it over, not being able to think that far ahead, and since the corpse was about half her size climbing with it was a risky proposition. Her rattling at the fence had no doubt attracted Miss B’s attention, since she was Outside With Mum and therefore, On Guard Duty. Once B got within smelling range, the aroma must have fused all the circuits in her little doggy brain. Whether she thought the Tortie was wounded and in need of assistance or she thought something fragrant was menacing the cat–who B has regarded, ever since we brought the sneezing kitten home, as a quick but not necessarily very intelligent puppy–who was under B’s protection is unclear. A lunge, a snap, the Tortie screaming, and all of a sudden, dead squirrel was airborne.
I have been almost clocked in the head by a great many things, and a dead squirrel is neither the largest nor the most dangerous. It was, however, by far the most–how do they say? Ah yes.
To understand this next bit, you have to know a little bit more about our Kingdom of New Backyard. I was facing the compost pile, and to my right is the fence–chain-link, and about chest-high, on the other side of which lives a very lovely young family whose preschool kid calls me “Nice Lady”–as in, “Nice Lady doyoukillspiders? I kill spiders! My mom affred of spiders!” (Heretofore I will only answer to Nice Lady Doyoukillspiders.) Planted along the fence are lilacs I will eventually trim into a hedge, once they have reached a certain level of exuberance. Behind the compost pile, directly in front of me, are the garden beds. The fence on my right continues back to the corner, where it meets (perpendicular) a sloping wooden fence propped up by the cedars all along the back of the yard. In that corner is nestled the shed the SQUIRREL DEATHRIDE 5OOO put a mark on the side of, lo these many moons ago.
The corpse sailed grandly overhead, dropping bits of grave-dirt and rot on everything underneath it, including my hair. I thought for a moment it was the Tortie herself, having achieved a power of flight by some means either nefarious or unbelievably stupid. I managed to begin a “JESUS CHRIST”, meaning to plead with the flying thing not to land in the neighbor’s yard, because their garden patch, like mine, has iron posts sticking up that used to hold deer netting. (I can only surmise the deer in this neighborhood were particularly fierce, long in the long ago.)
My prayers were somewhat answered, for the thing–I had now identified it as a squirrel corpse–hit one of the most beautiful of my lilacs and vanished into its leafy embrace.
I couldn’t help myself. I glanced down to make sure I was wearing shoes.
As a result, I only caught a flicker of motion in my peripheral vision. It was the Tortie, streaking after her prize, and after her…well.
Not only had Miss B’s circuit boards shorted out by the smell and the movement, but now something was moving. It was running. Which meant only one thing.
It needed heeeeeeerding.
I choked on my “JESUS CHRIST” and went straight into “NOOOOOOO!”
First, the Tortie hit the lilac, which only shuddered a bit and looked around sleepily.
Then Miss B plowed into it.
I dropped the pitchfork, tripped over it on my way around the corner, and began to scream. This did not dissuade Miss B, who had caught the Stanky Thang What Had Attacked Stupid Puppy and intended to give it a Good Talking To. The sudden noise did, however, convince the Mad Tortie that perhaps it was best to dig up this fine morsel another day–a day, say, when there were no herding dogs or interfering bipeds about. So the Tortie thrashed free of the lilac’s embrace and bolted for the back corner, meaning to slip through one of her favorite holes in the fence.
This, of course, got Miss B’s attention, and even though she had caught the Stanky Thang, it was her bounden duty to finish the entire affair satisfactorily.
You guessed it. She ALSO thrashed free of the (now severely traumatized) lilac and gave chase, the corpse flopping in her slavering jaws, unable to bark because her mouth was full and consequently making a sort of gurgling chicken sound.
I leapt over Norbert, who crankily demanded to know what the hell was going on, since his back is turned to said lilacs, and just about crushed a couple carrot plants. Poor things.
I got to the fence right after B did. The Mad Tortie, having chosen discretion over valor, had vanished. And for the next ten minutes I had to chase B around the yard and demand she give up Stanky. By that point, she thought it was a game, and the fact that I was hysterical certainly didn’t help–she no doubt heard my very loud cursing as a sign of affection and playfulness, not to mention laughter.
I finally convinced her to drop the goddam thing and stood there, holding her ruff and hyperventilating. Getting her up the stairs and into the house so I could rebury the goddamn thing was an option, but then I thought of trying to bleach dead squirrel out of my carpets and dragged her to the shed instead.
What? No, of course I didn’t lock her in the shed. I’m not a monster. I intended to get the shovel, which I had forgotten was by the compost heap. So then I had to drag her to the compost heap, and she decided that was a game too.
Finally, shovel in hand, I turned back around…
…and saw the Tortie had darted through the fence again.
She was making for the squirrel corpse.
It was a race against doom. Judging by my headache afterward, I must have teleported across the intervening space. Fortunately, B thought I was herding the Tortie, and in an explosion of goodwill and fellow-feeling, she decided to help. The Tortie let out a cheated feline howl, streaking for the fence again, and I might have heard her using Language Unbecoming if I had not been screaming obscenities myself, more in relief at this point than anything else.
That was how I ended up with another sadly mangled squirrel corpse on my shovel, dirt and God-knows-what in my hair, sweat all over me, and a self-satisfied Australian Shepherd attempting to leap for the morsel on the shovel. I managed to get through the gate without B, who began to bark excitedly.
“I HEEEERDED IT! I CAUGHT IT! THAT’S TWO I’VE CAUGHT! AREN’T YOU PROUD OF ME, MUM? I HEEEERDED IT!”
I stood there, breathing heavily, and stared at the disturbed grave. I looked at the sadly worse for wear corpse on my shovel. I thought about things.
Then, I dug in the recycle bin (nervously eyeing the shovel and its cargo in the driveway, expecting the worst) and found a paper grocery bag. I shoveled the dearly departed in without further incident, folded the top down, sneezed at the smell, recited a few words along the line of “GODS AND DEMONS BOTH FORGIVE ME, BUT I CANNOT REBURY THIS FALLEN WARRIOR,” and chucked the thing in the rubbish bin while B howled to the neighborhood that SHE HAD CAUGHT ANOTHER ONE, GLORY HALLELUJAH.
I feel bad about it, but what the hell else could I do?
That’s how I ended up reeking of dead squirrel while finishing my attendance to the compost heap. Fortunately B’s coat sheds even grave-dirt, and I did my best to brush her teeth while she tried to eat the brush and the liver-flavored toothpaste. *shudder* I won’t let her lick my face again for a while, that’s for goddamn sure. The lilac will never be the same.
I swear to God, I am never burying another rodent.
At least, not until Bandit passes…