So there I was, staggering backwards with a dog’s collar jingling merrily in my sweating fist, my tea probably scorching some hop vine volunteers to death, and my mouth open on a long, Vader-esque “NOOOOOOOOOO.”
Meanwhile, Boxnoggin had discovered the secret I had longed to keep hidden from him, and like any gothic hero once all is revealed he had decided the best response was the most violent one.
Namely, his response consisted of leaping, jaws snapping, for Travis, who was screaming squirrel obscenities in every direction as he spun, holding onto the bottom of the Yankee Squirrel Flipper for dear life.
Side note: I don’t know if I’ve told you guys about how much Boxnoggin loves the hose. On very warm days, I make him sit nicely, then I turn on the sprayer attachment and let him chase the jet. Occasionally he’ll decide to eat up the stream of water, and then I discover once more just how disconcerting it is when you see a dog coming at you with its mouth working.
There are a lot of teeth.
Anyway, all of that is to say I can only imagine how terrified Travis might have been, if he’d had time to notice Boxnoggin at all. As it was, he was whirling rapidly on the YANKEE SQUIRREL FLIPPER DEATHRIDE 5000. Long-term readers will smile, I hope, remembering the original DEATHRIDE 5000. This one is… a lot more effective.
But if you remember that story, you have some inkling of what’s going to happen.
So. I was staggering back trying not to fall upon my (capacious) ass, and Boxnoggin was in flight. My wondering eyes actually tried to squeeze shut, not wanting to see the moment of impact, but I kept looking because… well, it was like a horror movie or an incipient car crash. I simply couldn’t let my eyelids fall.
Now, as physics would have it, the YANKEE SQUIRREL FLIPPER is hanging from a rope and a wrought-iron hook. I mention this so you understand the sheer impossibility, the absolute miraculousness of what happened next.
The YANKEE SQUIRREL FLIPPER was doing its job. The battery was full, it was in top condition. It was performing as intended, whirling an arboreal rodent at high speed and in style, but the rope and the hook meant that its bottom had begun to lift. The damn thing was momentarily inching towards the horizontal.
This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Boxnoggin sailed, jaws closing with a dull snap of finality, and…
… and he just barely missed.
To reiterate, we have me staggering backwards with a jingling dog collar, one squirrel getting the carnival ride of his tiny little life, and a dog in flight who had just missed his target by a bare inch because Physics, that relentlessly pranking goddess, was in a good (or extremely cranky) mood that day. Boxnoggin looked like Wile E. Coyote in the moment he realizes one of his Acme-fueled plans has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
“OHSHIT,” I screamed.
“…” Boxnoggin was too busy flying to say anything, his jaws snapping like a meth-fueled alligator’s.
For Travis’s dialogue, you’re going to have to imagine a mad Doppler effect laying emphasis on certain syllables as he whirled around a rapidly shifting axis.
Travis was screaming, “–sonofaBITCH youtalkintoME youfuckintalkinTAme faFUCKsake–“
I’ve grown somewhat adept at translating squirrel-ese, and Travis sounded like a freshly shaven-headed New Yawk cabdriver who had practiced his lines several time in a mirror that morning and now, caught in the grip of circumstances beyond his control, could think of nothing else to scream.
And then, the inevitable happened.
What? Oh, no, not Boxnoggin landing, although he was about to with an oof several years too old for his puppyish self. (They told us at the shelter that he was “two and a half years old.” I’m thinking they were misled; if that dog was over eighteen months when we got him I’ll eat a hat or two. Without ketchup, even.)
No, my best beloveds, Boxnoggin was still aloft, cradled in the arms of a soft spring breeze. The YANKEE SQUIRREL FLIPPER was still bound and determined to do its duty, and I was still staggering. All this happened in far less time than it takes to tell, as usual.
But one thing had changed, dearest Reader. Yes, something was different; a change had been introduced into this already volatile situation.
You see, Travis the Cussing Squirrel had either been forced, by exigencies or in a quest to alter the situation in which he found himself, to perform the one action he reasonably could at this point.
He let go.
to be continued…