Yes. A goddamn squirrel.
…I’d better back up.
I was sitting in my office, minding my own business and writing a citywide conflagration, when the ruckus from outside became too large to ignore. The window was open, since it was a reasonably warm day, and for once both dogs were paying little attention to scrabbling and screeching from outside. They were, I think, both exhausted by the morning’s walkies. Since B was injured, even an amble around the block is an adventure that frays my nerves as well as hers, because she is so goddamn determined to stick her nose in everything to make up for being unable to run it’s a full-time job keeping the leash (and my legs) untangled. And Odd, well, his legs are short, his trundle is arduous, and anything above 60F is much too warm for his taste. (Poor little compromised-airway fellow.)
Anyway, they were both sprawled on the office floor, Odd with his head mostly under B’s skirts. I think it’s a holdover from his puppy days, when she could curl completely around him; now, of course, he’s far too big, and the only thing he can rest against her belly is his ginormous head. She suffers it, of course, as she suffers so much else. And the noise from outside just kept getting bigger.
THING 1: I DID NOT!
THING 2: YES YOU DID!
THING 3: YOU DID, YOU DID!
THING 5: POOP! POOP!
THING 1: I DIDN’T! I DIDN’T!
THING 5: RACECAR! I’M A RACECAR, YOU’RE A RACECAR!
THING 4: SLOW DOWN! IT WON’T HURT!
I had to swing my office chair around, craning my neck, to look out my window at the fir tree in the middle of the yard. Scratching and scrabbling came from up the trunk, so I had to get up and peer out my window.
It was (you’ve already guessed, I bet) squirrels.
THING 5: MRRRRRRROWP! MRRRRROWP!
THING 1: FINE! I DID IT! GO AWAY!
THING 3: YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT!
THING 5: BRRRRRRRP THPING ARGLEBARGLE!
THING 4: COME BACK! COME BACK, DAMMIT!
THING 2: OW! YOU ASSHOLE!
Not one. Not two. Not three or four.
Five. Five young squirrels. They were small, they were bouncy, they were the toddlers of squirreldom, and they were having a grand old time.
I glanced down to make sure I was wearing shoes, even though I was (relatively, I hoped) safe inside my own home. Fortunately, I was shod, and I looked out again, trying to discern what the little bastards were doing. After a little while, it seemed like Things 2, 3, and 4 were attempting to mate with Thing 1, Thing 1 might have been attempting to find a quiet moment to mate with Thing 4, and Thing 5 was simply running around and yelling various things.
THING 5: GILBERT! SULLIVAN! HAMILTON!
THING 4: DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE!
THING 3: LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!
THING 1: STOP BREATHING ON ME!
THING 2: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!
Ah, youth. Ah, exuberance.
I watched for a few moments, wearing what I am sure was an expression of complete mystification, then glanced back at the dogs. Who were still blissfully oblivious. It seemed a little unnatural, but the noise had started to gradually, maybe they’d simply adjusted to it as it rose.
I settled back in my chair and began to look at maps for roads out of the city I was burning. Research, that perennial writer’s–
The noise went up to eleven. I actually spoke out loud, I was so taken aback. “What the ever-loving fuck?” I stood up again, turning to the window.
My friends, there was gray fluff, majestically floating down from the seventy-plus-year-old fir tree.
It was fur. Actual fur was flying.
I don’t know what happened to turn the tree into Squirrel Thunderdome. I do know that they were suddenly serious about their battle, whatever it was, and there was an unholy screech. I had arrived, it seems, just in time to see a meteor plunge to earth.
Well, it was a squirrel. A tiny squirrel. It fell out of the fir tree and hit the ring of rocks at the bottom. And it lay there, supine, while the battle continued raging overhead.
“Oh, fuck,” I breathed. I could tell, sure as shooting, that this boded no good.
TO BE CONTINUED…