The smoke has somewhat cleared, we’re supposed to get a break from the heat today, and I need to grease that damn bird feeder again. Yes, it’s become a weekly necessity.
…maybe I should back up.
When last we spoke, I’d had a bit of a brainwave. I slathered Crisco on that damn metal pole like I was expecting to fry chicken on it. (It’s been warm enough we probably could, but that’s beside the point.)
Anyway, the next day dawned just as nasty-hot and I all but forgot about the damn squirrels–a pleasant state of affairs, but one which hardly ever lasts, around here. I was poking at Robin Hood in Space, figuring out how I was going to get Alan-a-dale out of trouble this time, when the Little Prince yelled “MUM!” from the dining room.
When your kid bellows like that, all of a sudden you’re years younger and trying out for a track meet. I dropped everything and all but flew, my chair hitting the desk and making everything upon it dance. Miss B, startled out of a nap, scrabbled to keep up.
“What? Are you okay? What is it?”
He pointed at the French door, and I saw he wasn’t crying, his face was just contorting like that because he was unsuccessfully holding back a deluge of laughter.
“Out…there…” he wheezed, and I stared. So did Miss B, her head cocked at exactly the same angle mine was.
It was Olsen Twins, perhaps thinking he’d be able to get some better nuggets of birdseed if he snuck back when Batgirl and Preggers were otherwise occupied.
I have to hand it to that little furry bastard with his ragged, skinny tail and nervous twitches. He’s certainly motivated, and just as certainly dumb enough not to give up in an impossible situation. I’d call it bravery, but I’ve seen this same squirrel take off running when the wind ruffles his hindquarters.1
His leap to the first level–a horizontal loop meant to hold a potted plant, but the damn squirrels kept tearing up whatever I planted in there–was a marvel of ballet-like authority. His leap to the second loop, which holds a windchime, was even better.2 The next leap was to the central pole, whereupon he planned to shimmy upward…
…but the Crisco did its duty, and Olsen Twins scrabbled mightily, scritch-scratch, before falling, ker-thump, to the deck.
“Holy shit,” I breathed, and the Little Prince was cackling so hard tears stood out in his eyes. Miss B watched this, her head still cocked at the same do-I-believe-this-shit angle.
Scrabble-skritch-scrabble-THUMP. Again and again, he flung himself at the pole. I had to admire his stubbornness, having no little share of that quality myself.
Finally, though, his sides heaving, Olsen Twins had to take a moment on the deck. It was a very hot day, and he panted, glaring up at the bird feeders as if they had personally offended him. They were full, they were swaying gently, they were ripe, and they were utterly inaccessible.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no. Not the end at all.
Because, you see, the Mad Tortie had padded silently in to see what the ruckus was. She had crept under the table, weaving her way through the chair legs, and watched a few minutes of the debacle with interest. But when Olsen Twins paused, no doubt to cogitate upon his next plan of attack (which would, no doubt, be the same as his previous plan of attack, since squirrels are not known for their creativity) she struck.
I should mention, at this point, that we’ve switched to keeping the Mad Tortie inside, both because it’s safer for her and because she is a mass murderer. She was treating all the bird feeders in the neighborhood as her own personal buffet, and she was damn good at the business of killing. Anyway, she’s furious at not being let out to slaughter at will, and I suppose that frustration lent speed and strength to her spring–another marvel of authority, since she is at least as athletic as a squirrel.
However, her frustration had caused her to overlook one tiny detail.
That’s right. The door.
The glass door.
SPLAT went the cat.
BONG went the glass door.
“SHITNUGGETS!” screeched the squirrel.
“OH FUCK!” the Little Prince and I chorused in unison.
“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?” yelled Miss B, startled enough to lunge. Not for the squirrel, since she had not forgotten the sorcery humans use to keep the outside, well, outside.
No, she lunged for the Mad Tortie, who staggered away from the door, then noticed in a split second there was something large and furry coming her way. The Tortie took off the way she’d come, back under the table, and Miss B hip-checked the door as she turned on herself–that dog has an incredibly flexible spine, let me tell you–and followed suit.
“LOOK OUT,” the Little Prince yelled, whether at the squirrel, the cat, Miss B, or me, I could not tell.
“OH FOR GOD’S SAKE,” I added, at roughly the same time.
Chairs flew. The table rattled and groaned. The Mad Tortie streaked through the living room on her mission of escape, with Miss B in hot pursuit, every circuit in both animals’ tiny little brains fused. They knocked over two potted plants and moved the couch a grand total of two inches southward.
Olsen Twins, meanwhile, had decided discretion was the better part of valor and ran for the fir tree near the deck. Unfortunately, his paws were still laced with Crisco.
You know those cartoons where there’s a blur of legs, a critter scrabbling as fast as they can, but for some reason they aren’t going anywhere? Yeah. Like that. The Crisco also interfered with his cornering ability.
So, while the Mad Tortie and Miss B were moving furniture, Olsen Twins, fast and furious…
…ran right into one of the verticals of the deck railing and staggered backward, shaking his head.
“DID YOU SEE THAT?” I bellowed, but the Little Prince had turned to gape openmouthed at the trail of quivering air left by the Cat and Dog Show.
It took a while to calm things down. The Mad Tortie escaped downstairs with a headache, Miss B trotted back to grouse that she had almost, almost caught a cat3, the glass door stopped shivering, we cleaned up the table, and the bird feeder pole stood, smug and glistening, in afternoon sunshine.
And that, my friends, is how I finally–FINALLY–won one against those fuzzy little arboreal menaces.
I’m sure it’ll be the only time, but damn, victory is sweet.