Little grey creature spoils quiet time

Published 3:18pm Friday, February 8, 2013

With a start, I looked in the direction of the unlit fireplace from where the sound came. This strange noise had not roused me from my supine state but the small grey form that rose on its haunches and boxed the fire screen with its paws so that the screen toppled over. Before I could pitch the terriers to the floor and leap to my feet, the young squirrel streaked beneath the Christmas tree and fled down the hall, hotly pursued by three of our five cats who had, only moments before, been content to lounge along the back of the love seat, forearms splayed on either side of the scarlet cushions, like Cheetahs sleeping in trees.

I heard the creature’s fate before I saw it: Paul’s particular favorite, Duke, had seized the shrieking squirrel with his teeth and was carrying it, draped from his mouth, back up the hall into the kitchen.

“Duke!” I commanded, moving in to cut him off. “Let him go. Duke!”

Duke was having none of it and I could see the wild, panicked look of terror and pain in the squirrel’s eyes and as it kicked with its back legs I could at least determine that the cat hadn’t bitten through its spine. Duke stopped for an instant at the front door, long enough for me to snatch him up but his grip was fast and having a peanut gallery of murderous onlookers yowling at my feet, I took cat and squirrel out the door and sat on the front step of the deck, in a downpour, with Duke, writhing, in my lap while I stuck both of my index fingers, hard, into the sides of his jaw until he was obliged to finally open his mouth and drop his prey. The squirrel had been punctured deeply, but he dashed away at great speed and I can only hope he survived and healed without too much distress.

When Paul returned home he was somewhat peeved to discover I’d made no effort to remove his favorite pullover from the dryer before it became deeply creased.

“It can’t be because you’ve been busy,” he said accusingly. “The house looks the same as it did when I left.”

“I’ll have you know I’ve indeed been busy,” I countered. “I’ve been squirrel wrangling.”

“I’m not even going to ask,” he muttered, grabbing his pullover and ascending the stairs.

Halfway up, he stopped, turned, looked over the railing and added, “But before I go into the bathroom, are there any rats or squirrels in there? Because I might just snap.”

“Nope,” I said cheerfully. “Just dirty towels on the floor.”

I never did get around to finishing the laundry.

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