I always knew there was something sinister about squirrels. Most people think they are cute furry little woodland creatures, scampering about, chittering and looking for nuts. I never dreamed, slowly cruising on my motorcycle through a residential neighborhood, could they be so incredibly dangerous! Little did I suspect...
Scene I - I was on a boulevard in a very nice neighborhood with perfect lawns and slow traffic. As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me. It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car, and reversed its course. I really was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it - it was that close. I couldn€™t go into the other lane because of oncoming traffic, and there were cars parked along the right. I hate to run over animals, and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact.
Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels, I discovered, can take care of themselves! Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet Jackie Chan-style. He was standing on his hind legs and facing my oncoming Harley with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. He tied a bandanna around his fuzzy head; his mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for "Semper die, you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!" The leap was nothing short of spectacular, something even Jet Li would envy... as he shot straight up, flipping over my windshield, and impacted me squarely in the chest, sticking on like Spiderman on the side of a wall. Instantly, he began his fiendish attack upon me. If I did not know better, I would have sworn he brought 20 of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a whirlwind of Tasmanian Devil-like activity. As I was dressed only in a light t-shirt, summer riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This fuzzy little tornado was doing some serious damage to my 13th Floor Elevators T-shirt!
Picture a 40 year-old man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves, puttering at maybe 25 mph down a quiet residential street, and in the fight of his life with a squirrel from hell...and losing. I grabbed for him with my left hand. After a few misses, I finally managed to snag his tail. With all my strength, I flung the evil rodent off to the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I recoiled from the throw.
That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there. It really should have. The rodent could have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards, landing softly into a perfectly manicured sculptured hedge and gone on about his business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the wiser.
But NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! This was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even an ordinary pissed-off squirrel. This was an EVIL MUTANT ATTACK KAMIKAZE TREE RAT OF FLAMING DEATH!!!!! With lightning reflexes, somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his tiny little nails and, with the force of the throw, swung around and with a resounding thump, he landed squarely on my back and resumed his rather anti-social, extremely distracting activities of shredding the remains of Roky Erickson and company. He also managed to take my left glove with him, which he undoubtedly had some sort of nihilistic scheme in his barbaric little mind!
The situation was not improving. Not improving at all. His malfeasance was continuing, scratching my back with tiny needles, and now I could not reach him. I was startled to say the least. I must have looked like Chevy Chase in €œNational Lampoon€™s Christmas Vacation€ when he too, encountered the villainous rodent in the Christmas tree. I used to think that scene with Clark Griswold running around the house with the rodent securely affixed to his back was hilarious. No more.
The combination of the force of the throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a Harley can only have one result. Torque. Lots of torque. This is what the Harley is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared and the front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel howled in anger. The Harley screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in... well... I just plain screamed. Like Axel Rose once said, I discovered I scream the same way whether I€™m about to be devoured by a Great White or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot, or in this case, when the EVIL MUTANT ATTACK KAMIKAZE TREE RAT OF FLAMING DEATH is turning my back into hamburger.
Scene II - Now picture a 40 year-old man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a rapidly disintegrating 13th Floor Elevators T-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, and roaring at 50 mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential street in first gear doing a wheelie and clutching at a demonic squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder. With the sudden acceleration, I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars and try to get control of the bike. This was leaving the mutant treevildoer to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into somebody's tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the throttle... my brain was just simply overloaded. I did manage to mash the back brake, but it had little effect against the massive power of the big cruiser. About this time, the seriously unhinged rodent decided that I was not paying sufficient attention to this Clash of the Titans (maybe he is an evil mutant NAZI attack kamikaze tree rat of flaming death), and he came around my neck and got INSIDE MY FULL-FACE HELMET WITH ME!!!!!
As the faceplate closed partway, he began hissing in my face. Picture, if you will, going nose-to-nose with a rodent €“ so close that his whiskers were tickling my nose, and his feverish hot breath scalding my face. I am quite sure my screaming changed intensity, rapidly climbing a few octaves €“ kind of like John Hurt when the alien jumped up and latched itself onto his face. The screaming had little effect on the alien in this instance, however. The RPMs on the Harley maxed out (since apparently I hadn€™t bothered with shifting recently) so the front end started to drop.
Scene III - Now picture a 40 year-old man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very raggedly-torn 13th Floor Elevators T-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, doing a wheelie at 80 mph, engine screaming at 47,000 RPM, with a large puffy squirrel's tail sticking out of the mostly closed full-face helmet.
By now the screams are probably getting a little hoarse. Finally I got the upper hand... I managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked...sort-of. Spectacularly sort-of... so to speak.
Scene IV. You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some paperwork. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. You are in a veritable cascade of serenity.
SUDDENLY, a 40 year-old man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, tattered 13th Floor Elevators T-shirt flapping in the breeze, wearing only one leather glove, doing a wheelie at 80 mph, and screaming bloody murder roars by and, with all his strength, throws a live squirrel grenade DIRECTLY INTO THE WINDOW OF YOUR POLICE CAR!!!!
I heard screams. They weren't mine... I managed to get the big motorcycle under control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign of a busy cross street. I looked back around. I would have returned to €˜fess up (and to get my glove back). I really would have. Really! Except for two things.
First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about my flagrant disregard for the traffic statutes. When I looked back, the doors on both sides of the patrol car were flung wide open. The cop from the passenger side was on his back, doing a reverse crab walk into somebody's front yard, quickly moving away from the car with a look of horror on his face. The cop who had been in the driver's seat was jumping around in the street, windmilling his arms screaming €œGET IT OFF. GET IT OFF.€ When he realized the hellrat wasn€™t on him anymore, he aimed a riot shot gun at his own police car and squeezed off a few rounds.
So the cops were not interested in me. They often insist to "let the professionals handle it". I certainly agree with that sentiment, although I seriously doubted they covered evil mutant NAZI attack kamikaze tree rats of flaming death at the police academy.
Well, you ask €“ what about your little buddy? First, I saw the enraged squirrel inside the squad car. Then I saw two of his buddies jump in. I could clearly see shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery from the back seat. Then the police car took off. One of the little fuckers was operating the gas pedal, and the other was turning the steering wheel. As they screamed away, I saw my nemesis in the back window, shaking his tiny hairy little fist at me, shooting me the squirrel finger.
That is one dangerous squirrel. He€™s pissed off, and now he and his posse have a patrol car. A somewhat shredded patrol car... but it was all theirs. And now they can assuage their hellish craving for vengeance with the latest in urban assault tools.
I took a deep breath, looked around, making sure nobody saw me, turned on my turn signal, made a gentle right turn off of the street, and sedately left the neighborhood. I decided it was best to just buy myself a new pair of gloves, some Band-Aids, (never mind the accursed 13th Floor Elevators€™ T-shirt) and never speak of this day again.
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