Wednesday, April 25, 2007

RIP Rocky (and Rocky II)

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday Amy wakes up at 6:15 and I wake up at 7:30. Normally after she is up and ready to go she stops and says "bye" to me – and that is that. This morning was different. At 6:45 I was shaken awake…

"Gordon, wake up!"

"What?! Is everything OK?"

"Yeah – there is a dead squirrel in the backyard. Make sure you clean it up before you let the dog out. I don't want him to eat it."

I groaned… "OK – I'll clean it up before I let Cay out" and then I was asleep again.

At 7:30 I woke up and slowly rolled over. Cayuga was still asleep. I carefully slipped out of the bed so as not to disturb him. I wanted to take care of this "squirrel situation" before he was begging to go out. No dice. As soon as I was out the backdoor with the shovel I saw Cayuga sitting by the door with his legs crossed and that look on his face. You know the look that says – "I really have to pee…look at all that grass – why won't you open this door?"

I looked back him with the look that says "I know buddy – I will let you out once I get rid of this dead squirrel so that I don't worry about you tracking bits and pieces of it all around the house."

As I turned to meet my destiny, I saw something else. It was another dead squirrel. There were two now?!?! In the time that Amy told me about one, another had died.

I should say that in the back of my head I was wondering if they were really dead. A few weeks ago while mowing my lawn a squirrel fell from a tree and landed with a hard thud. It looked deader than a doornail. Its legs were up, it wasn't moving. As I got closer to "inspect" the creature – its eyes popped open and it jumped up…wobbled a little and scampered back up the tree. I did all I could to keep from screaming and wetting my pants.

After an event like that, you can start to see my reservations with dealing with "dead" squirrels. So I crept up to my brown and furry friend – armed with my shovel in case it was "faking."

I tapped it with my shovel. It was stiff…very stiff. I turned around and saw Cayuga again…I had to act quickly.

Now – I need to give a little more background. In our neighborhood people take care of their yards. It is not like we all have putting greens, but they are usually well tended and presentable. That is everybody except for the house directly behind us. They have grass that is never mowed, more garbage than you can shake a stick at, a pool that has NEVER been opened – and more concrete lawn ornaments than stars in the sky. And it all looks awful. Really awful. Downright hideous.

With Cayuga on my mind and a squirrel in my hand I decided my best option was just to throw the thing over the fence. Surely they would never see the thing…and if they did they would just think it was a dead squirrel – not something that I threw over the fence. Besides, it serves them right – they should take better care of their house.

I launched little Rocky over the fence and ran to get the other.

"Hang on, Cayuga!!! I'll be there in a second."

When I touched Rocky II he was soft…very soft. He was either freshly dead, or faking. Panic set in. I was starting to think that this one might jump up mid-process. My shovel dexterity was gone…and I was freaking out. I couldn't get him on the shovel!!! I scanned the yard and found a stick. Quickly I was able to use a "chopstick" maneuver and get him onto the shovel.

I quickly turned to check out Cayuga. In my haste the squirrel fell off the shovel.

"OH SHIT!!! Shit shit shit shit."

I scampered to get it back on the shovel. Fortunately I still had my stick. After a brief moment I had launched Rocky II to his final resting spot.

"Rest in peace, guys!" I shouted as I went to let the dog out.

Feeling somewhat satisfied with my work I went about the rest of my day as normal. However, as the morning went on I started thinking about the earlier events of the day. One dead squirrel was fine. Two dead squirrels was odd. Very odd. And now they were laying conspicuously close to each other…conspicuously close to my fence. I did the wrong thing. Not only did I disrespect the deceased squirrels, but I had thrown them into my neighbor's yard. Regardless of how nasty their yard is – the squirrels died in my yard. This was my problem. And now it was more of a problem.

My fence is tall. Very tall. And they have a fence, too. And their yard is LITTERED with "No Trespassing" signs. I wasn't sure what to do. All I knew was I had to get those squirrels back.

Here were the options as I saw them…I could wait until dark, wear all black and sneak into their yard, get my squirrels and get out. They have dogs in kennels, so I would have to be careful not to wake them. Not that they could chase me – but they could bark and raise suspicion. Another option was to just walk over – knock on the door – tell them what I did and face the music. OK – that was not really an option – but I had to think it. And then I was out of options. I needed more time…I needed a plan. A good plan.

Then it hit me, like a squirrel falling from the sky, I could just remove a bunch of planks from my fence. Then, I could crawl through, collect the squirrels, crawl back through and put the fence back together. GENIUS!!! This would surely reverse any bad karma – and I could totally explain it if I got caught by the neighbor. "Oh – I am just working on the fence. It looks a little rotted here. Oh – I noticed some dead squirrels, thought I'd clean those up for you." Talk about a win win situation.

So – at 8:30 this evening I went to work with a hammer and a crowbar. I started tearing planks apart on the fence. Sure enough - there they were. Two squirrels, peacefully lying on top of each other – arms (paws?) gracefully holding each other for all of eternity. Almost too peaceful to disturb.

I used my grill tongs to pick them up. I didn't want to deal with the shovel again…and I am in need of new tongs anyway. One might think it is degrading to a squirrel to be picked up in such a manner – but I think I was doing a service to my furry friends. I was helping to give them a proper burial. They deserve that.

So there I stood – squirrels in tongs. They were both stiff by now – it had been nearly 12 hours. Squirrels are heavier than you might think. Then again, maybe you think they are heavy. Regardless, I was surprised. Rocky II was clearly heavier.

I neatly placed the little angels into a "hefty cinch sack" – which is basically the squirrel equivalent to a titanium coffin. The finest money can buy. I carried the little bag around to the front. I noticed my karma changing already. Today is Tuesday – trash gets picked up tomorrow. Jackpot.

I buried the interlocked squirrels in with the rest of my trash. I bowed my head…said a few words. I ran inside hoping to find a Woodchuck in the fridge – I thought it might be a nice gesture to "pour one out" – and I don't think there are any squirrel beers.

I found a Miller High Life in the fridge. Not a Woodchuck – but still oddly appropriate. "Rest well little guys. May your afterlife be the High Life."

Now, some hours later I write this and it is pouring down rain outside. I am glad that I took care of this earlier. I would hate to be wet. I am glad the squirrels are in a hefty cinch sack. I would hate for them to be wet. We all deserve better.

*I thought about posting the pictures with this. But I did not want to subject you to pictures of me...with tongs...and squirrels. Maybe I will - in case you are doubting the truth of this.