Archive for the 'squirrels' Category

Squirrely!

[In a departure from my usual dire ponderings, I am today pleased to introduce a brilliant new writer to the world. Mr. X, as he calls himself, has produced a delightful story about squirrels, politics, and young love.  It is printed here in its entirety.   No subscription required!]

 

SQUIRRELY!

 

Chapter One

 

A cold, drizzly rain had been falling all day, and now it was starting to pour. On a branch of a tree just outside the window of a house, a wet, bedraggled squirrel sat shivering.

 

Inside, in the warm, cozy living room sat a warm, cozy family. In the fireplace a warm, cozy fire burned. The father read his newspaper. The mother was knitting. The young daughter sat on the rug before the fire, petting a fat, fluffy cat on a fat, fluffy pillow. It was all very cozy and, well, warm.

 

The squirrel looked down at the warm, cozy family with great interest, focusing mostly on the cat. As he stared, the cat yawned, stretched, and began to look around lazily. Then the cat looked out the window and noticed the squirrel. It didn’t move, watching the squirrel for almost a minute. Then, it looked slowly around at the family the room, and the fire, looked back at the squirrel – and SMILED!

 

I know that some people think cats can’t – or won’t – smile. But this was a smile, if not a particularly pleasant one. It expressed a smug satisfaction with the cat’s situation, and a smirking contempt for the pitiful-looking animal on the tree branch outside looking in.

 

The squirrel was so startled he fell off the branch and landed in a mud puddle. He sat there for a moment, then got up, shook himself, and scampered off – if his slow, wet movements could be called scampering.

 

As he went, he said to himself (and not for the first time), “It must be nice to be a cat.”

 

 

 

Norman – for that was the squirrel’s name – was a typical teenage squirrel. By typical, I mean that he was like all teenagers, and like most squirrels. He was of average height (for a squirrel) and of average disposition (for a teenager). But in some ways he was different from other squirrels.

 

He was a rebel. But he was not a nut.

 

And thereby hangs a tale.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Norman slogged along the muddy forest path, shivering and grumbling as he went.

 

“It’s not fair. Cats have all the luck. It’s so unfair.”

 

Before long, he met his best friend, Buddy. Buddy was a short, dumpy squirrel, and even in the best of weather he managed to look somewhat bedraggled. He wasn’t too bright, either. But he was a good friend.

 

“Hey, Norman.”

 

“Hey, Buddy.”

 

“Lousy day, huh?”

 

“Yeah. Like always.”

 

“Yeah,” Buddy agreed. Buddy almost always agreed with Norman.

 

“You find any nuts?” Norman asked.

 

“Nahh. You?”

 

“You kidding?” Norman said in a disgusted tone. Norman hated digging for nuts.

 

“Where you headed?” Buddy asked.

 

“Home for dinner.”

 

“Oh. What you doing later?”

 

“I don’t know. I was thinking I might stop by Gina’s house and, you know, see if she wants to hang out.”

 

“Gina, huh?”

 

“Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know.”

 

“You ought to. I think she likes you.”

 

Norman was surprised. “You do? I don’t know. Sometimes she’s like ‘Hi’ and I’m like ‘Hi’ and for a minute it’s really great. But then sometimes she acts like she doesn’t even know I exist.”

 

“Well, trust me on this one. She likes you.” Buddy sounded confident.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s women.”

 

Norman stopped and looked doubtfully at his dumpy, disheveled friend. He didn’t feel reassured. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just go dig for nuts, instead. You?”

 

“Me too, I guess.” Buddy agreed.

 

“Some life, huh?” Norman asked sadly.

 

“Huh? Yeah. I guess. Yeah.” Buddy was confused, and unsure of what he was agreeing about.

 

“Yeah,” said Norman.

 

“Yeah,” Buddy agreed again.

 

“Yeah!” Buddy responded irritably. “See you.”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Norman’s family lived in a hole in an old tree trunk, with an old piece of hanging moss serving as a door. Inside the room was small and damp. There was no roaring fire.

 

His Dad was reading the squirrel daily newspaper. His Mom was preparing dinner.

“Hi,” Norman said to his Mom and Dad.

 

His Mom responded. “About time you were home, Norman. Wash your hands and come to the table. Supper’s ready.”

 

Norman went over to a walnut shell filled with water and washed his hands. He then took a towel and dried his hands, his head, his back and his tail. He instantly fluffed up. Norman was blessed with a good head of fur.

 

His Dad asked “Well, how did it go today? Did you find any buried treasure?”

 

He chuckled, knowing that Norman wasn’t very good at finding nuts. He also knew that Norman hated it. But finding nuts was an essential part of the squirrel life, and Norman needed to get good at it.

 

Norman sat down at the table, without answering. A single big acorn was on the platter. The father stood and began carving.

 

Finally, Norman responded. “No. I can never find where I buried a nut. And it’s miserable digging in the rain.”

 

“I know,” said his Dad. “But that’s when the digging is easiest. You should be glad it’s raining. I remember a few years ago, when it didn’t rain for weeks. The dirt was like a rock. Let me tell you, that was…”

 

Norman interrupted him. “Why do we have to dig for nuts anyway?”

 

“What do you mean? We dig for nuts because we bury them for safekeeping.”

 

“But then we forget where we buried them, and we never find half of them anyway.”

 

“All right, so it’s not a perfect system,” answered his Dad (who was both realistic and fair-minded.) “But it’s the Squirrel Way, and it’s kept us going for a long time. Why, as far back as our…”

 

Norman interrupted again. “Yeah, but why? Why can’t we get food from the humans, the way the cats do? They just lie around and wait for the humans to bring them food. And they don’t have to run around in the rain. And the humans clean them, and pet them, and…”

Now it was his Dad who did the interrupting. “That’s crazy talk! Cats are cats and squirrels are squirrels.” His voice was rising. “The humans PET cats because the cats are PETS!” By now he was almost shouting. “WE ARE NOT PETS!”

 

Norman did not back down. “But why not? Why can’t we be pets and let the humans serve us? Why can’t…”

 

Now his Mom spoke up. “Listen to your father, Norman. For once he’s right. It’s not the Squirrel Way, not what we’re made for. Now eat your acorn slice before it gets cold.”

 

Norman replied in a disgusted tone. “It’s already cold, Mom; it’s an acorn. We have no heat. Our food is always cold. This place is cold…”

 

His Dad broke in. “Stop complaining. Be thankful for what we have.”

 

“What we have? What we have???” Norman gestured dramatically to the bare little room. “We have nothing! Nothing!!! I wish I were a cat!!!””

 

His parents gasped in horror. Norman stomped out of the room. As he left, he tried to slam the door behind him. But because it was just a limp curtain of old, wet moss, it made only a faint “splurp” sound.

 

“I wish we had a real door,” Norman thought.

 

Back inside, Norman’s parents sat in stunned silence.

 

After a long, sad pause, his Dad said tiredly, “Sometimes I wish he were a little more, I don’t know….squirrely.”

 

His Mom sighed, and nodded in rueful agreement.

Continue reading ‘Squirrely!’


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