Squirrel Heaven

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If I had to guess how this Saturday morning played out back in around nineteen-eighty six, I would say I was sitting at the island in the kitchen eating a Patio burrito, while my step dad sat across from me drinking a cup of coffee to combat the hangover from too many bottles of Little Kings beer. That was a typical Saturday morning at the household.

In the kitchen was a sliding glass door, with a tore up screen door that my dog, Gretel torn up from being too impatient to wait for us to notice that we needed to let her back in. By that door was a rusty old b-b gun, with the handle cocking action and a little piece of leather tied onto the handle, which really had no use, except I guess it was supposed to make you feel more like a Cowboy and let’s face it, leather is just cool. Fearing the squirrels would take over the house, my step dad used it to fight his battle against them. He was losing in blow out fashion.

Using the phone wires as a highway to the house, the squirrels ran across them to make their way to the attic. I would cringe each time he would get up from the kitchen table to take aim at those poor critters scurrying across the telephone wires that were high and tight, right over our chain link fence. I was and still am an animal lover and even though I grew up hunting and killing everything that moved with my father, I had never gotten used to the lopsided advantage I had on any animal. There were even mornings where I would get up and say, “I’ll take care of this one” and would proceed to aim away from the squirrel, shoot and pretend to be mad that I somehow missed. I imagine my step-dad just thought I was a bad shot.

The squirrels eventually took shelter in our attic, and my step dad tried everything to get them out of there. He even resorted to the funny idea of blaring music in the attic, probably using my newest Twister Sister cassette to get rid of them.

That Saturday my mom had her best friend over at the house, which was not only most weekends, but most days after work. They sat around, drank and talked.

I was in my room with my door shut. I was probably getting my look down for that night, to hit my favorite heavy metal club that let under age kids in–this would have entailed checking out my hair for a while, carefully spiking it just right with Aquanet and pulling it over my shoulders to try to figure out how much more it had grown. All of the sudden I heard a blood curdling scream come from right outside my door. I ran out to see what was going on, and my mom’s friend proceeded to tell me something was in the toilet. I remember being frightened that I was just going to walk up on a turd and be scarred for life seeing an old lady’s turd, but that is not what I saw–whew! (I should add that she was already on the toilet when she heard something splash below her and knew it was not her that made that splash.) What I did see was a near-death squirrel that had incredibly worked its way up through the pipes. I have no idea how this happened, but there it was right in front of my eyes, so I had to believe it.

My step father and I quickly rescued the squirrel from the toilet. I made a little squirrel bed while my step father proceeded to pump its stomach. There we were over this squirrel like it was a child, begging for it to survive. Dammit squirrel, don’t give up on us now! The squirrel continued to breathe and just seemed exhausted. We laid him in his little bed to get some rest, right by the sliding glass door in the kitchen, which was incidentally right next to the b-b gun. We also laid a little bowl of dog food near him should he need food for strength. Gretel was locked up in my bedroom and was scratching at the door feverishly as she knew she was missing out on something.

We sat and watched and watched. The squirrel eventually started to move, and I was feeling like Doogie Houser M.D., all proud I might have helped save a life.

We opened the sliding glass door in hopes it might get well enough to make its way back into the wild. After several hours, he cautiously got up and wandered outside into the night.

It was probably a prime hour of the night to get out to the club in time to see the last few songs of a band and to drag some girl out of there, but I was interested in something more important that night. I saved a life today. I waited until my step dad was drunk enough to ask me to order pizza, give me the money to give the delivery guy and then pass out before the pizza got there. I had this down to an art. I figured out quickly that if he was awake when a pizza got there, not only did I not get that much pizza, but I did not have any left for breakfast. If he is passed out, I got to pay with his money, eat all the pizza I wanted. I could also beat him to the kitchen in the morning and eat the rest for breakfast. I employed this tactic so often, that twenty-two years later I still remember the Domino’s phone number by my old home. It is 248-7480. At the time you didn’t have to dial the area code, but it is 580 if you want to test it. I still pull this trick occasionally when back home.

The next morning was the same as the one before, except this morning I had pizza. My step dad staggered into the kitchen and was quickly defeated when he saw me finishing off the last slice. He made his coffee and sat across from me. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a squirrel running across the telephone wire went for his b-b gun and quickly took aim. Then it dawned on him and he proudly lowered the gun. He starred at the squirrel closely and said, “I can’t shoot it. That might be the one we saved.” To this day the squirrels have lived happily ever after in our attic. Oh sure, my step dad will complain about the squirrels and occasionally take half-assed shots at them, but deep down inside he remembers that day and is happy to share his home with the squirrels.

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