I’m pretty sure the squirrel didn’t mean it, but it happened just the same.
I tumbled down the deck stairs, empty watering can in hand, and ran along the concrete path. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to catch Miss B or Kowalski!Squirl the Recently Beshat, but I had to do something, right? Miss B, glad to finally have a clear-cut problem with what she deemed a simple solution before her, achieved warp speed just before Kowalski!Squirl found himself faced with a bit of a dilemma.
Miss B: HEEEEERD IT!
A word or two is necessary here so you understand what I’m about to relate. The south end of my yard contains, from left to right:
* The shed, full of gardening implements and a tarp just in case;
* A small built-it-yourself greenhouse, set alongside the shed;
* Emphysema Joe’s home among the lush lavender greens, tucked behind said greenhouse;
* The vegetable garden, which is bisected by a railroad tie;
* The compost heap;
* Open space in before the fence and the apple tree.
The vagaries of pursuit meant Miss B was coming in from the left, arcing out a bit to come at Kowalski!Squirl from the side. If you’ve seen a dog herd sheep, you’ll know what I mean. Kowalski!Squirl, heat-drunk, smeared with dog droppings, and more than a little crazed, consequently veered right.
Yes. Straight into the vegetable garden. Right up the middle, right up the railroad tie that serves to separate the garden rectangle into two almost-squares.
The railroad tie that comes to an abrupt stop. With a post. A post at the end.
The post Norbert, our cranky gargoyle watchdog, leans against since his resin base is cracked. Was cracked. I mean, it’s still cracked, but…
Miss B: HEEEEEEEEEEEERD–
The shitty-assed squirrel plowed right into Norbert, maybe thinking to climb the post behind him. But what Kowalski!Squirl did not know was that Norbert, hollow and made of resin, was a bit more…erm, friable, I suppose is the word? More friable than he looks.
That’s right. The goddamn squirrel shattered my gargoyle. He clambered up the thin pole and leapt for the fence, almost getting caught in the lilac hedge. Thankfully, he avoided the bush Stanky Thing Squirrel got tangled in. Further thanks are probably in order to the fact that Miss B didn’t hit the lilacs. No, she just dug up the left half of the vegetable garden on her way through, all but uprooting a poor tomato plant, sailed over the potato box (now there’s a story for another time) to land neatly on the walkway next to the hedge and began barking, furiously, at the fence as Kowalski!Squirl, in an ecstasy of fear-laden relief, screamed down at her.
Miss B: OHPLEASEOHPLEEEEASE COMEDOWNCOMEDOWN IMMAHEEEEEEEERDYOU!
Kowalski!Squirl: %$#&! $#@*&! #@$%*&^%$#%#@*!
Emphysema Joe: *peering through the greens* OH, MAN. OH, MAAAAAN.
Me: FOR FUCKSAKE!
While all this transpired, Odd Trundles was barking at the north end of the yard, excited but without a clear idea of why, since his short flight in that direction had knocked every other consideration clean out of his huge, wrinkled, very hard head.
Odd Trundles: *snortwhistle* MOM! MOOOOM! I’M ALL ALONE! MOOOOOOM! WHAT HAPPENED? MOOOOM WHERE ARE YOOOOOOOOOU?
Miss B leapt at the fence and its cargo of ordure-smeared rodent. Kowalski!Squirl decided discretion was the better part of valor and took off, numbly hopping along the top of the chain-link, leaving brown smears. He made it to the back fence and vanished into the cedars, while Miss B tracked him along the fence and, losing her prey, decided to show her athletic prowess by running a few laps of the yard at high speed, barking all the while.
Odd Trundles: *trotting vigorously in her wake* WHERE ARE YOU GOOOOOOOOING?
Miss B: *pouncing on her favorite digging hole* HEEEEEERD GONE, MUST DIG MUST DIG.
Me: *clutching empty watering can to my chest* OhmyGod, Norbert…
Emphysema Joe: OH, MAAAAAAAAAAAN. THAT’S NOT GROOVY.
Norbert: *coughchoke* WHAT THE FUUUUUUCK?
Yeah. The squirrel. The goddamn shit-smeared squirrel broke Norbert.
I dropped the watering can, scrambled into the garden, and went to my knees. The heat was amazing, Biblical, and I was sweating freely.
Me: Jesus Christ. Oh, Norbert. I’m so sorry.
Norbert: THIS IS…UNDIGNIFIED. OUCH.
Me: Yeah, well…squirrels.
Norbert: I SAW HIM COMING. I JUST…OUCH. MY BACK. UGH.
Emphysema Joe: *clears throat* PSST. HEY, BOSSLADY. CAN YOU…CAN WE TALK FOR A SECOND?
Me: I’m kind of busy–
Norbert: NO, GO AHEAD. I NEED A MOMENT.
There followed a whispered conference in the lavender, while Miss B dug and Trundles, feeling extremely lightened in the back end but with a certain pressure in his bladder, burp-barked his way across the yard, trying to find a place to pee and reach me at the same time. As usual, when presented with two options, his brain froze, so he would stagger a few steps, squat, decide to raise his leg, almost fall over, look up to see me crouched by the lavender, and stagger another few steps towards me.
Emphysema Joe: YOU’RE NOT GONNA DO IT, RIGHT? PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE NOT GONNA.
Me: Do what?
Joe: *significantly* YOU KNOW.
Me: *holding onto my temper, hand over my pounding heart* No, I don’t, or I wouldn’t have asked, dammit!
Joe: SHHH! LOOK, OKAY, WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BREAK.
Me: When I–
Joe: NO, WHEN WE BREAK, BOSSLADY. NORBERT’S BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT A LOT LATELY. BECAUSE, WELL, HE’S FALLING APART.
Me: *finally catching on* Oh. OH. Jesus, Joe.
Joe: HE CAN COME LIVE WITH ME–
Norbert: I CAN HEAR YOU, FOR GOD’S SAKE. IT’S FINE. I’M READY.
I shook my head and went back to the garden, crouching in front of Norbert and attempting to get him, as it were, all in one place. It was hard–each time I picked up a piece, it would crack and fall apart.
Me: Look, Norbert–
Norbert: I UNDERSTAND. DO IT QUICKLY.
Me: For Chrissake, shut up a minute. I am not throwing you away.
Me: I am not throwing you in the rubbish bin while you’re still alive. That’s not how I roll.
Me: Who’ll look after the garden if I do that?
Norbert: I CAN’T SCARE THE BIRDS LIKE THIS, MA’AM.
Me: Norbert, for God’s sake, you can scare anyone you want. I am not throwing you out, and that’s final.
Norbert: I APPRECIATE THE THOUGHT, BUT…I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS.
Emphysema Joe: NO, MAN, YOU CAN’T–
Me: Shut up, Joe. Norbert, I am not throwing you away. *wincing a bit, rubbing sweat from my forehead, suddenly noticing I’m probably kneeling in squirrel-spread dogshit* It’s really simple.
Norbert and Emphysema Joe, in unison: IT IS?
Miss B: *finally stopping her digging* MOM? MOM WHERE ARE YOU? *trots over, self-importantly, and decides to stick her nose into Norbert. WHAT’S THIS?
Me: It’s super simple, guys. Get out of there, B.
Odd Trundles: *tripping over kale, finishing the destruction of a tomato plant, and landing on the empty watering can* WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
I arranged Norbert’s, erm, pieces, as best I could, carried the watering can back up to the deck, checked Odd’s hind end and my knees for any, um, effluvia, and dragged both dogs inside. The kids wanted to know what happened, but I could only shake my head and whisper “…squirrel.” At least I had shoes on, right? Inside, there was air conditioning. I also poured myself a glass of wine, because by God, I felt like I’d earned one. The dogs both flopped down on the tiled kitchen floor and congratulated themselves.
So that’s the tale of how a heat-drunk squirrel rode a bulldog, fell in poop, almost killed my gargoyle, and oh God, GOD HAVE MERCY, I’m going to have to go to the craft store.
Because Norbert, my friends, needs a new body.
Which–oh, come on, say it with me–is another story.
HERE ENDETH SQUIRL!OVERHEAT. (For now…)
 Note: picture taken the morning after the Event.