One of my favorite cartoons was when Bugs Bunny took on a bull in the ring. Oh, the gags ran fast and furious in that one. Just recently, we had our own little version of that episode, and it involved our dog Juliet and a very brave squirrel.
Juliet and I were out for our evening walk. We were strolling down the sidewalk; she was way out in front, where her leash has a 20-foot length. I was lost in thought. Hey, when you’re a writer, you’re always “working.” Suddenly, the line went limp. I left the land of dragons and floating cities, and returned to the boring world of reality. There on the path before us was Juliet’s nemesis: the squirrel. Actually, I guess I should say “a squirrel.” After all, there were plenty of them around.
The squirrel was scampering across the sidewalk and had just reached the halfway point. He froze when he realized that Juliet was near. Slowly he turned to face her. He rose up on his back legs. With the sun behind him, he looked like a gunfighter waiting for a showdown. I couldn’t help but think of “High Noon” and Gary Cooper. Juliet slowly moved toward him. He held his ground. She started to trot a bit faster. He didn’t flinch.
The distance between them rapidly diminished, and yet Mr. Squirrel did not run. This did not look good for him! I tried to click the lock on the leash to stop it from playing out, but I couldn’t get it to engage. Then, at the last possible moment, the squirrel neatly sidestepped Juliet, and she shot by him. I could almost hear him shout, “Ole!”
She slammed on the brakes; I heard her claws scrape across the concrete. The squirrel leapt off to the right, dug his claws into the trunk of a nearby palm tree and scampered up to its top. Juliet spun about, searching for him, all to no avail. Above her, Mr. Squirrel sat at his perch, and chirped away. That was his mistake: gloating, it practically sounded like laughter coming from him. Juliet heard his glee, and raced into the shrubbery.
That was her mistake.
I heard a soft clunk. She stumbled out of the bush and shook her head. It seemed she’d run head first into the palm tree! Undeterred, she took a few steps back, looked over the situation, assessed the distance and angle to target and jumped forward. Up the trunk she went! Mr. Squirrel fell silent; clearly, he hadn’t expected that.
Juliet’s victory was short-lived. Although she’d almost mastered climbing a palm tree, she wrapped her front paws about the trunk and used her back legs to sort of scoot up it. The key word in all this was “almost.” She still could not get all the way up.
Down she came, wham, landing on her back. She got to her feet and looked up at the squirrel. They gazed at each other for a moment, and then the squirrel leapt to an adjoining tree – without a sound and took off. Juliet gave a snort, turned, and continued on down the sidewalk.
Yet another showdown and all things considered I’d call it a draw.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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