Friday 28 Oct 2016

The Queen is Back
AJ Robinson

Recently, my wife went to visit family. As I was very busy with work, she took our dog Juliet with her. It had quite the effect on the local squirrels; they let their guard down. Yeah, they got fat and lazy, and this was despite the fact Juliet was only gone a week.

Then she returned.

One day, soon after her return, I took Juliet for a walk, and she re-asserted her dominance of the area. We were approaching the mail kiosk, an area with many trees, shrubs, and four clusters of small trees. There on the ground were three squirrels, leisurely enjoying the sun as they relaxed on the sidewalk. Juliet saw them. She froze. They froze. It was a classic standoff. I think the old term was Mexican Standoff, but that might be politically incorrect these days. Each side waited for the other to make a move.

The squirrels “blinked.”

They took off, going every-which-way. Juliet bolted. It was all I could do to hold her back, even as her leash spun out of the holder. Here’s where she made her one critical error: she tried to chase all three at the same time! This led to her going left, going right, spinning back toward me. Then it zipped forward, all within the space of about four seconds. One squirrel jumped up on a large tree trunk off to the left, the second scurried up the wrought-iron fence and the third climbed up among the small saplings that composed the first cluster of small trees. Juliet quickly gave up on the first two, and then turned her attentions to the last one. She jumped and leapt at that squirrel, and it proceeded to attempt to make its escape.

Please note that word: attempt.

Poor Mr Squirrel made a critical error. He jumped from the first cluster to the second, and then the third and finally to the fourth. Well, the problem there was, from that final cluster there was no place to go! Juliet stood below, barking and making her displeasure known, and occasionally jumping as high as she could. This was one instance where she did not try to run up the side of the tree. She had long ago given up on trying run up small trees. The squirrel, for his part, did not remain calm. After all, if he just stayed put and waited for me to drag Juliet away, he would have been fine. No, he decided that he had to move. He reversed direction. Back he went to cluster three, then two, and finally one. From that cluster, there was only one safe haven: the huge tree that was oh so tantalizingly close. One of its lesser branches hung close by.

Yet, the critical question was this: might the branch be truly near enough to reach.

The squirrel seemed to know that time was of the essence; as Juliet was fast approaching the base of cluster one. He made the leap and learned the branch was not close enough. Wham, he slammed into the concrete sidewalk, and Juliet charged. Yet, the squirrel might have been stunned, but he was not down for the count. He raced for the tree, and made it with inches to spare.

On our next walk, the squirrels safely ensconced themselves high above us. Yeah, they’d learned their lesson. The Queen was back in town, and woe unto any who let down their guard again!

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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