Unfortunately for me, my skill set and language expertise didn’t extend into speaking or understanding squirrel. What I heard from his toothy mouth was “chitter chitter chitter I’m going to bite your jugular chitter”. Moreover, my brain had now restarted and had absorbed about half a second of extreme visual and auditory stimuli. Adrenaline coursed through each point of my body in an electric fashion. I then did what anyone in that situation would do. Like a mad hatter, I jumped and hopped from one foot to the other, arms waiving akimbo above my head, fingers twitching, neck gyrating, and shoulders swaying while screaming like a small child.
The blare of a oncoming sedan horn dragged my brain back from the initial “Animal Threat” setting it had perched on when it had processed the squirrel to the more common and mundane disaster that was approaching me at forty plus miles an hour. In my deluded frenzy, I had jumped into the road, squirrel and all. No self respecting mid-western driver was going to stop for a mere pedestrian, and it was a near-death experience for the rodent and myself to flash back to the relative safety of the cracked sidewalk, where several more minutes of jerking and spasmodic twitching finally induced it to stop running around my back, double-clutching my shirt, and considering whether to poop on me, bite me, or both. Inelegantly, it finally flopped to the ground.
Once at the base of a tree, it fluffed its tail indignantly at me, and presumed to waive an angry front paw pad in my direction dismissively. It put up its back and stared at me with those boring orbs of death, not deigning to even speak squirrel in my presence. It looked at me intently. And, I may not have been able to converse with the savage beast, but I could read its gaze. I knew that gaze. It was the look of “Now you’ve crossed me. And I’m going to get revenge.” I knew that look. It was the look of “All-I-needed-was-a-little- help-and-instead-of-helping-you-nearly-got-us-both-killed-you-inconsiderate-and-ungrateful-bastard”. I didn’t know that look as well, but I could sense it.
Then, once it had made its point, it hurtled back into a convenient tree. It scrabbled up the bark depressions easily. Up in the lower branches, several other furry menaces were motionless. Watching. They had peered past leaves, and were all watching the drama unfold. Then in one large, tail swishing simultaneous motion, they were gone. But the message remained. They would be back. And it would be payback. That was why I hunched instinctively under an entirely different set of leafy boughs. They wanted my sandwich, possibly. They were hungry. Or maybe they wanted something more sinister. They might want me – for revenge – for humiliation – or for worse. I grabbed my bag. I was going inside – where it was safe. And then, I saw him. Trash-can. Two feet distant. Hanging off the rim acrobatically, half-obscured by the metal rim. Motionless. Staring. Reporting. I moved at double time to the nearest door.