Sunday 25 Sep 2016

The Big Boss
AJ Robinson

I finally know who commands of the Squirrel Defense Force, in our apartment complex. The other night, while taking Juliet for her final walk of the day, I spotted him. We were strolling along the lake, just approaching the halfway point when I saw him, Mr General Squirrel, himself, sitting on a park bench near the water’s edge. Surrounding him were a few of his minions, that is, several of the ducks who live in the lake. They were chattering and quacking a great deal, so it was clear a major discussion was taking place.

Juliet saw him and went into stalking mode. Down went her head. Out went her tail and her legs prepared to sprint. I could just about see her muscles flexing.

Alas, a sharp-eyed minion was our undoing. One of the ducks gave the alarm. He and his flock raced into the water and the squirrel dashed up a nearby cluster of small saplings. Juliet was undeterred. She raced for the trees and tried to run up them, but, owing to their small size and diameter, she was unable to get a footing. She tumbled down onto the grass.

The squirrel chattered away, clearly mocking her, and jumped to the next cluster. Juliet gave chase, jumping and leaping at him. He raced to the far side of that cluster, and here he encountered trouble. The next cluster was too far away for him to jump, easily.

I saw him clinging to the thin branches, his eyes scanning the far saplings. I could almost see the wheels turning inside his head as he calculated the angle and distance, and his chances of making it. Me, I put them at well under 50-50. It appeared he concurred with my assessment, as he did not attempt the leap. Instead, he turned and raced back to jump to the first cluster. Juliet followed, whining and barking the whole way.

This continued for a few minutes, and then the general seemed to grow weary of his little game. He set himself up on a nice cozy branch, and just hung on to it. I took the hint, it was time to leave and let them return to their planning and scheming. I dragged Juliet away. Yet, I kept watch out of the corner of my eye. What would the general’s next move be?

I didn’t have long to wait.

Once he was sure we were out of range, he scampered down the saplings, and dashed for a large oak tree standing a short way away. I was surprised – he wasn’t returning to speak with the “Duck Dynasty”? I was amazed. Juliet also caught sight of him, and gave chase, but it was a pointless endeavour. He was too fast, he had too much of a head start, we were too far away, and Juliet couldn’t get up to full speed quick enough. Up the trunk he went, and came to rest in a nice little pocket of the tallest branches.

In a way, it was a victory for General Squirrel, but I also saw it as a win for Juliet. She had managed to break up their little meeting, and that stood for something. Maybe next time they’d show her just a little respect.

We shall see.

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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