Monday, June 18, 2018

Hemingway and the Squirrels

He was sitting on the second floor porch. The condensation of the cold beer felt good on his right hand. It felt almost as good as the sensation of the cold amber liquid going down his throat.

In his left hand laid open a book of Hemingway's short stories - I think it was The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

"What a prick Hemingway was," the man thought to himself. "Everything is either sex, fear of death or being a jerk to a woman because he's drunk and can't get it up." Still the man kept reading. 

Hemingway lived on his own terms and that realization pissed off the man who took no risks and who did things because he thought they were proper or they were expected of him. It was then he heard the noises.

It was a high pitched screech, followed by a what sounded like a wheeze and then the screech again. The source of the noise was two squirrels chasing each other in the trees outside the second floor porch.

"Ahh, a squirrel fight," the man thought as he put down the book and took another gulp of his beer. Slowly the man realized that only one of the squirrels was making the noises and that they were not chasing each other. There was one chasing and one trying not to be caught. "Ohh," thought the man, who was somewhat disturbed with himself for wishing to see the squirrels "being married" as Milton would say. Disgusted with himself as he may be, the man stood to get a closer look.

The female squirrel had made several laps around the tree before finding refuge. The tree they were in was dead and one of the larger limbs had dried out and split. Inside the hollow of the split the female squirrel took shelter and when the male came too close she took a swipe at him with a forepaw. The male was not discouraged. In fact his screeching and wheezing became louder as he circled the dead limb.

The commotion attracted another male who joined the first male in making laps around the dead limb while they alternated taking bites at each other with getting hit with swipes from the female trapped in the hollow.

Finally, the female had enough and made a break for it. She raced around the trees until coming back to the dead tree where she scampered out to the end of a branch that looked like it could barely hold her own weight. She was trapped. She turned to be ready to swipe at either of the males who were foolish enough to come out onto the fragile bough.

Neither male squirrel seemed anxious to place his weight on the branch. The man was disappointed. He looked around the second floor porch. It was his sanctuary. It held the spare fridge where he kept his beer. It was where he listened to baseball on lazy summer weeknights. It was also where he stored much of his athletic gear.

His eyes fell upon his softball glove. Inside he kept a softball with the idea that it kept the glove in proper shape. The sight of the ball for some reason made him angry. He picked up the ball and looked back at the squirrel standoff. Without warning he threw the ball at the bitch squirrel. The ball missed the squirrel but hit the branch which broke sending the squirrel hurtling toward the ground. 

He saw it clear. The squirrel's head and left shoulder hit the ground with a sickening "thump". The two male squirrels seemed to stop and stare at the man and then look down at the unmoving female only to look back at the man once again before scampering off in separate directions. 

The man looked down at the dead squirrel, then looked up into the sky as if he might glimpse the squirrels spirit ascending into the heavens. Finally the man's gaze fell upon the book he had left open with cover side up.

"Stupid Hemingway," the man muttered as he left the porch to go inside the house to take a shower.

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