Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beware Of Squirrels

Tuesday I had Bob the Tree Guy come out to finally cut down that old dead Oak in the front yard. Bob was a heavy-set older man with a scruffy salt-and-pepper beard and deep-set eyes that darted around occasionally as though he expected someone or something to jump out at him. Bob would heartily laugh at everything he said and when he did you could smell cigarettes and beer on his breath. All of this was clearly outweighed by the fact that Bob was cheap, the cheapest tree man around. When it comes to having to hire someone else to do some stupid chore like removing a tree, cost is really the only factor.

Soon enough, Bob had tied a few thick ancient looking ropes around the biggest branches of the tree and had tied the other ends tight to the bumper of his truck. "Just in case..." he mumbled under his breath as he swaggered back to the tree with the chainsaw. Other than the ropes, Bob apparently didn't put much stock in safety, because he donned no goggles, gloves or lifting belt and used what appeared to be the oldest chainsaw ever with none of the auto shut-off or kickback protection. He was suprisingly nimble, or as nimble as a man of his size could be, once he had fired up the saw and began making his first cuts.

This was when I first saw the squirrels. Two light gray ones that shot down the tree in a quick spiral toward Bob. Whether it was the buzz from the saw or his liquid lunch, I'm not sure, but Bob payed no notice to the squirrels and went about the business of bringing down the old oak. This is when the third rodent, a chestnut colored beauty, dropped down onto Bob from the branch above, landing on his head. This finally got Bob's attention and he quickly threw down the still-running chainsaw and began beating at his balding head. The squirrel was easily dodging Bob's blind swats and hanging on by digging it's tiny little razor sharp claws into Bob's head and neck. Now Bob was stumbling around my front yard with arms flailing screaming "Get it off me...Get it OFFF!!". I could now see little streams of blood running down the side of Bob's head as the squirrel continued to dig in. Bob had finally landed a couple of blows, but this only seemed to make the squirrel more angry. Now the squirrel began gnawing at the back of Bob's neck, turning the back of his dirty tshirt a a deep maroon color. This sent Bob further into a panicked frenzy and he tripped on a tree root and began rolling on the cold ground.

Finally freed from frozen shock, I started to the tree at a fevered pace. I had nearly made it to Bob when the two gray squirrels got underfoot and I stumbled to the ground. They were both on me immediately, seemingly everywhere. I was on my back and one of them was on my face, clawing at my forehead. I was able to grab it by the tail just before it's claws reached my eyes and I held it up in front of me. The gray reared back and bit my hand quickly and I whipped it a few feet away. I managed to get back to my feet and take stock. My hand bled profusely between the thumb and pointer finger but I had no time to consider this, as the persistant little guy was back, this time climbing up the back of my shirt and digging little needles into my back and shoulders. After several fruitless attempts to reach him, I decided to use my weight against him. I quickly dropped backward and crushed him easily.

As I was dealing with the first squirrel, the other squirrel was making it's way up my pant leg. As I was beating at my leg like a madman the squirrel was clawing at my calf, then my knee, and then my thigh. Now the squirrel had sunk it's little fangs into my inner thigh and it seemed that all of my beating just made the squirrel dig it's teeth and claws ever deeper. I really panicked when I saw blood seeping into the front of my khakis. I lunged for the chain saw, still running, and carefully aimed the running blade at my groin area. The saw made quick work of the front of my pants and the twisting rodent inside. When the squirrel stopped moving, I tossed the saw aside and shook my leg furiously to get the thing out of my pant leg, just in case there was still a little life left in him after all. His little body fell out in a tiny heap onto the ground.

Standing up, I saw that Bob was lying face down on the ground, the squirrel no longer on his head, or anywhere else to be seen for that matter. I limped over cautiously, wanting to see if Bob was ok, but not looking to insight the wrath of any more forest animals. Luckily, no other squirrels attacked and Bob was unconscious and in shock, but alive. I brought him in the house to dress our wounds and the two of us both agreed on three things; 1) While we both likely needed medical attention, there was no way we were going to the emergency room with that story 2) We could never tell anyone what just happened and 3) We both deserved a beer.

I left that tree standing, of course, and never saw any ferocious squirrels again. My guess is that they had a nest or something in there, but I try not to think too much about it. A couple years later I put the house up for sale and the buyers wanted to have a contingency that I cut down "...that dangerous looking dead tree in the front yard", but I countered that I'd take $2000 off the price and they could hire someone to do it. After the closing my realtor told me, "Boy, you were awfully generous, the buyers told me they called some guy named Bob and he told them he usually charges $1000 to take out dead trees", "Hmm, I think they might end up having to hire sombody else" I said.

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