Landry and the squirrel froze. They stared at each as if locked in a children’s game of who would blink first. The squirrel, standing on its hind legs, lost when it dropped to all fours. The animal appeared to be waiting for the starting gun.
Landry employed the Army’s low crawl to inch closer to the squirrel. He held out a handful of peanuts in his right hand, forcing him to use his right elbow to move forward. Landry’s hand was about a foot away from the squirrel. He remained motionless.
Hours seemed to have ticked off before the squirrel made two reluctant skips towards the nuts. The squirrel stood and began sniffing the air for danger. Human-like it picked up a peanut with its two front paws. Shoving the morsel into its mouth, the squirrel ate rapidly. It repeated this process till all the nuts disappeared.
The squirrel timidly sniffed Landry’s hand searching for more food. Ending its search, the squirrel raised its head slowly, baring its minuscule teeth. The squirrel latched onto the tip of Landry’s index finger with its mouth.
Landry leapt up as if electricity raced through the ground. “Fucking squirrel… fucking squirrel…” Flailing his right hand only made the squirrel clamp down harder. Despite his banshee-like screams, Landry heard the crunching of bones. The squirrel fell to the grass, landing on all fours before scrambling away.
A teary-eyed Landry grabbed his right hand with his left. Deliberately bringing his right hand up for a look, he nearly passed out at the sight of red lava erupting from the top of his index finger. “Ffffffuuuckkkkkkkk!”
Landry glared out the window eyeballing the squirrel in his backyard. His finger, wrapped in a blood-soaked washcloth, throbbed. He washed down some aspirin with a couple of long gulps of whiskey. The unafraid squirrel returned Landry’s gaze as if challenging Landry to a death match.
From every direction, several squirrels converged on the brave squirrel. They gathered around Landry’s finger-eating squirrel like it had a story to tell. The new squirrels clutched their bellies in laughter.
Landry thanked God he was left-handed. Reaching for his .45 he ran out the back door. The other squirrels scurried like cockroaches do when the lights come on. The finger-eater stood its ground.
Landry stopped ten feet from the squirrel. He pointed the gun. He tried to steady his left hand which shook like a jackhammer. Breathe… breathe… relax, Landry, relax… count from ten, that’s it, count from ten… “Ten.” Landry counted quietly. “Nine… eight… seven… six…”
The other squirrels had snuck up behind Landry and were poised for an attack. They’d started their count the same time Landry did. However, they were counting from nine.
Alexander Salas writes in Ohio.
This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.