Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Unexpected Houseguest

On Thanksgiving Day, Elysia and I went to her aunt's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a nice time and headed home somewhere around five or six PM. When we walked in the door, we noticed right away that some of the magazines and papers that had been on the coffe table were now strewn on the floor.

"Some kitties were being naughty while we were gone.." Elysia pointed out. Then, as we walked towards the kitchen, we saw some of the chotchkas that had been on the baker's rack were now on the floor. "Wow! Some kitties were being very bad, apparently.." she said, a slight tone of annoyance creeping into her voice. (Our cats will sometimes chase one another around and act rambunctious, but, all in all, they are extremely well-behaved, and this was very much out of character for them).

We headed upstairs to change into lounging clothes (jammies, sweats, that sort of thing..), and as we walked into NASA (we have two bedrooms in the cottage; one is actually our bedroom, the smaller of the two, and this one we call, strangely enough, 'The Bedroom' (hee-hee), the other room, which is about twice the size, we use as our combination library, office, computer room, den, etc. Elysia's closet is actually in that room as is her bureau, the bedroom being much too small to house them... When we first moved in, we had three or four computers hooked up (( all old crappy kludged-together pieces of junk that each served a different function ... they have all since died and passed on to cyber-heaven... or wherever it is that computers go when they konk out )) with monitors everywhere, and the place looked sort of like a control room or something. When our brother-in-law first saw the room, he remarked, "Geez! What is this place? NASA??!", so, ever since that day, this room has been called NASA. (I write to you from NASA every time I post...) - Herendeth the tangent - ANYway, we walked in to NASA, engrossed in the conversation that had started on the drive home (We are CONSTANTLY talking to one another about something...) and immediately noticed that stuff was strewn about everywhere; stuff that had been on her desk was on the floor, stuff that had been on my desk was on the floor, other stuff was knocked over or otherwise disturbed, and Elysia said, "These guys must have really had a good time chasing each other around like assholes while we were gone, huh?!!" We sort of laughed it off, and picked everything up, putting it all back where it belonged. Once that was taken care of, Elysia began rummaging around in one of the drawers of the bureau, digging out her lounging clothes, and I was standing there listening to her when the realization hit me that I was smelling something that didn't belong. Keeping part of my brain focused on what she was saying, I let the other part of my brain run free to try to identify the smell, which was marginally, though not completely, familiar to me. Finally it clicked in my mind that I was smelling an animal smell, though why I would be smelling that in my house was beyond me... then it all fell into place. Stuff knocked down everywhere. Out of character for the cats. I had noticed a few drops of blood on the wall on the staircase that had barely registered... and now I was smelling an unfamiliar but distinctly animal smell. I began to scan the room with my eyes, looking into the dark shadowy areas and behind things... I looked past Elysia's head and saw a grey-brown furry body huddled up on the top shelf of the bookcase. A fucking squirrel was in the house! I didn't want to startle it, because the nearest surface for it to jump to was Elysia's head! I wanted to interpose myself between the squirrel and my wife, and I wanted her out of there NOW!

While she was talking, I reached for her arm to pull her away from the bookcase, but she shied away from me by turning her upper body to keep her arm out of my reach.

"Damn It!!" I hissed, and stretching, I caught her by the upper arm and pulled her towards my while saying "Come over here NOW. DON'T turn around. There's a squirrel on the bookcase behind you!" (Most animals react negatively to being looked at directly, and most prey animals recognize that two eyes on the front of a face belong to a predator ((two eyes on the front of the head for stereoscopic vision necessary for pouncing and judging distance in order to catch prey)) and most animals, from insects on up will attack eyes. I didn't want her turning around with her face less than two feet from something that could conceivably hurt her.)

She obliged me (finally!) by coming away (If she hadn't, she was going to get ripped out of there and she could have been angry with me. But I wasn't going to let her get hurt. Period.) and, looking back, she asked, while staring up towards the top of the bookcase, "There's a what??!"

"There's a squirrel on the bookcase."


"On the top shelf.."

"There is not a squirrel up there!"

"In fact there is."


"On top of the bloody bookcase!"

Peering at the top shelf, she said, "Oh Bullshit! That's not a squirrel!"

"It is clearly a squirrel."

"Its a baseball hat!"

"Well. I don't know what the hell you're looking at, but I am not referring to the hat!! I was talking about the smallish fur-bearing mammal with the bushy tail that is abso-fucking-lutely a fucking squirrel!"

At this point, I retrieved my Streamlight flashlight, which casts a very bright beam, and shined it on the squirrel.

Elysia took a half a step forward, studied the critter for a few moments, and then confidently announced, "That's a fucking squirrel! ... What the FUCK is a squirrel doing in the house??!! ....... HOW DID A SQUIRREL GET IN HERE?? It CAN'T be a Squirrel!! How the fuck could a squirrel get in here!?!?! Did somebody come and INJECT a squirrel into the fucking house?? None of the windows are broken. The house is made of brick. HOW THE FUCK DID IT GET IN HERE!!!"

I pointed out that the more pressing question was "How the fuck are we going to get it OUT??"

We stood there, both staring at the squirrel, brains going a thousand miles a minute.

For his part, the squirrel had apparently had enough for one night. The cats had kicked the snot out of him, and he was trying to shove his own head up his own ass, with his tail wrapped around the little bit that was left visible. This was the best impression of an ostrich that I had ever seen a squirrel perform.

I reasoned that the presence of the cats at this point was most likely a hindrance, and suggested that we lock them up and start closing doors to limit access to the rest of the house. Elysia agreed, and we got moving. I caught one cat, and she caught the other, and we locked them in the bedroom, much to their mutual dismay and disappointment. Once that was accomplished, I opened the front door and propped open the screen door, to allow the squirrel an exit route once I got it moving.

Using her considerable intellect with the practicality that she so often displays, Elysia sprung into action and rigged up some blanket walls (using crochet thread of all things) along the staircase bannister to channel the squirrel all the way down the stairs and out the door.

As for me, I figured that the squirrel and I most likely had the same goal in mind; getting the wee bugger outside and out of the house with as little commotion as possible. From my police days, I knew that the best way to handle any situation was to start out with the lowest degree of force and aggression as possible, because while you can always easily raise the degree of aggression or invasiveness, it was very, very difficult to lower it back down once you hit a particular level of aggression or force. Besides, the last thing I wanted was a berzerk (i.e. Pascagoula*) squirrel ricochetting off of the walls and destroying the house.. or, more to the point, fastening itself on me with some demonically murderous intent (I could already envision the lifelong gauntlet of mockery and humiliation that I would be forced to endure... starting with Elysia purchasing a stuffed animal squirrel, sewing it to the back of a jacket, and wrapping it up as a Christmas present for me to open publicly in front of the rest of the family.... yikes. ((treebark camouflage sweats, pajamas with acorns glued to them, I would be doomed to squirrel taunts for the rest of my miserable life!)) So. I planned on taking this slowly, with kindness and forethought and, perhaps with some degree of wisdom). With a wee bit of luck, I thought that perhaps I could get out of this with both my hide and my dignity intact. At least, I hoped so....

Once everything was set, I went up into NASA, walked over to the bookcase, and simply talked to the squirrel for a few minutes. (No, I don't have any illusions or fantasies of being Dr. Doolittle, but I figured that just about anything recognizes a non-threatening tone of voice). I began removing items from the shelf around the squirrel, who remained curled up in a ball, shivering slightly with fear. Once the obstacles around it had all been removed, I reached out and stroked its fur once with my index finger.

"Hey little guy..."


I stroked it again, and then began to pet it as I talked...

"C'mon, now... it's time to go. Nobody is going to hurt you... "

Pop! Out came the head. One bright shiny beadly little black eye staring at me.

I stepped away and indicated the door with my hand and a movement of my head.

"C'mon you.... time to go. There are no trees here. Go on.. its okay."

It moved to the side of the bookcase, and, head downwards, began to climb down.

I turned the computer chair, which sits right in front of the bookcase so that the back wasn't blocking the way for the squirrel to jump onto the chair.

"Come on... what a bonnie wee critter you are! Let's go, now..."

Sproing! It jumped on to the chair and sat up, looking at me. The nose was going a hundred miles a minute as it sniffed the air for danger. Bright little eyes stared into mine, and the tail began to twitch a warning.

"Don't you fash yourself, little buddy. Nobody wants to hurt you."

I stepped back and away, giving it a little room, and letting it know that I wasn't trying to close the distance in any way.

It sat there, looking at me, and calmed visibly. The tail stopped twitching, and it simply looked at me. Once again I indicated the door to the room...

"That's the way out, pal. Don't you want to go outside?? There aren't any trees in here. Go on now..."

Apparently, it finally dawned on the squirrel that I was giving it a way out of this house of horrors. It hopped down to the floor, gave me a look, and then it simply walked with a slow deliberate dignity towards the door, where it sat up and looked back at me for encouragement, I suppose.

"They're all locked up. It's Okay. Go on."

The little fucker was satisfied with that, I guess, because it lowered its forepaws to the floor and walked out the door to the top of the stairs and leisurely hopped down the stairs until it reached Elysia, where it gave her the once over.

"Tchct! Outside!" Elysia commanded, and the squirrel walked out the door, turned and gave us a last look, as though saying "Goodnight folks, thanks for the hospitality. Get rid of the cats, though!", and then it walked off into the night.

We both got a good laugh at the brazen little shit's incredibly ballsey attitude!

What next?!?!

* The Day the Squirrel Went Berzerk

Well when I was a lad, I'd take a trip
Every summer down to the Mississip
To visit my granny and her anti-bellum world
I'd run bare-footed all day long
Climbing trees as free as a song, and one day
I chanced to catch myself a squirrel
I stuffed him down in an old shoe box and
Punched a couple of holes in the top
And when Sunday come, I snuck him into church
I was sitting way back in the very last pew
Showing him off to my good buddy Hugh
When that squirrel got loose and went totally berzerk

The day the squirrel went berzerk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pasquagula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
We were jumping pews and shouting

What happened next was hard to tell
Some thought it was Heaven, others thought it was Hell
But the fact that SOMETHING was among us was plain to see!
As the choir sang "I Surrender All"
That squirrel ran up Harve Newman's coverall
Harve leapt to his feet and said,
"Something's got a hold on me!"

The day the squirrel went berzerk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pasquagula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
We were jumping pews and shouting

Harve hit the aisle a-dancing and a-screaming
Some thought he had religion, others thought he had a demon
And Harve
Thought he had a weed-eater loose in his Fruit-of-the-Looms
As he hit his knees to plead and beg
That squirrel ran out of his briches leg
Unobserved to the other side of the room
He ran all the way down to the amen pew
Where sat Sister Bertha, better than you
Who was watching the whole comotion with sadistic glee
You should have seen the look in her eye
When that squirrel jumped her garter and crossed her thigh
She leapt to her feet and said, "Lord, have mercy on me!"
As that squirrel made laps inside her dress,
She began to cry and commence to confess
To sins that would make a sailor blush with shame
She talked of gossip and church dissention
But the thing that got the most attention
Was when she talked about her love-life - and then she started naming names!

The day the squirrel went berzerk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pasquagula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
We were jumping pews and shouting

7 deacons and the pastor got saved
And $2500 got raised
And 50 vollunteered for missions in the Congo on the spot
Without even having an invitation
There must have been 500 rededications
And we all got rebaptized whether we needed it or not
You've heard the Bible stories, I guess
How he parted the waters for Moses to pass
All the miracles God hath wrought in this ol' world
But the one I'll recall 'till my dying day
Is how He put that church back on the narrow way
With a half-crazed Mississippi squirrel!

The day the squirrel went berzerk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pasquagula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
We were jumping pews and shouting

The day the squirrel went berzerk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pasquagula
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival
We were jumping pews and shouting

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