It was a warm fall afternoon, and Frank the gray squirrel and his pals had already spent a busy and productive day burying nuts in the loamy-smelling yard and tormenting the overweight cats that sat in windows watching them. The squirrels were taking their union-mandated fifteen minute break, and where on another day they would be merry and frolicsome and playfully chasing each other around the elm tree, today they just stood around in a small group and jinked their tails at one another.
"Hey, Frank, did you see the cat in the yellow house on the corner? I had him hopping up and down and foaming at the mouth the whole time I was cleaning out the bird feeder right across from his window," chortled Seamus, the squirrel who lived two trees down from Frank.
"Go on, Seamus, that fat old cat was asleep in the sunshine the whole time and you know it. You couldn't get a vretch excited if you spent the day at it," retorted Frank, referring to a small creature that squirrels know about that is often quite excitable. "Dang, this bite I got last month from some creature of the night that I was unable to see clearly is really itching a lot today."
"You should have that looked at," said Al, an older gray squirrel from down the street. "Hey, check out that squirrel, will you? He must have seen Pirates of the Caribbean one too many times or something! Arrrgh!" He and the other squirrels then made a lot more "Arrgh!" sounds and chittered amongst themselves and twitched their tails derisively at the squirrel walking past them in the yard.
The old red squirrel they were mocking had a scarf tied around his head and a large gold hoop in his left ear. One of his eyes was missing and he was hobbling along painfully until he came abreast of Frank and the other squirrels. But as he glanced with his good eye at Frank, he yikked and leapt backward and hawked a gobbet of phlegm onto Frank's forehead.
"Oi! What the fuck did you do that for, you asshole?" snarled Frank.
The old red squirrel didn't reply, but instead raised a quivering paw and pointed it at Frank and recited in a querulous voice:
Not all round and hard things are walnuts
Not every small brown thing's a seed
Take care on the night of the full moon
Lest the werehamster's bite makes you bleed
A lot from a ripped throat
Frank and his friends looked at one another in puzzlement.
"Arrgh, it sounds lots better in the original Gypsy Squirrel dialect, I had to translate it myself on the spot and I'm frankly a little rusty but I'm pretty sure you couldn't do a better job of it, you cackling jackanapes," muttered the old squirrel. "But what it means is that you've been bitten by a werehamster and tonight's a full moon. You'll go through a painful and dramatic transformation into a loathsome monster then you'll kill and eat the one you love most. Arrgh, there I go giving away the plot again," grumbled the colorful stock character as he limped away. "'Sound ominous,' they tell me. 'Sound mysterious and portentous,' they say. But then they only give me a paragraph or two and spend half the time talking about how bizarre I look, what the hell am I supposed to do, it's not like this is a high-budget blog and I can actually get a chance to do the scene right or anything...."
Frank and the other squirrels looked at each other and shrugged, then Al said,
"Hey Frank, tonight's your big date with Doris, isn't it? I can't believe you got her to go out with you. What do you have planned tonight, scamper behind the garage and have at her for twenty seconds then run off? That didn't work out so well with Amber, did it?" At this Al and the other squirrels dissolved into the squirrel equivalent of peals of laughter.
"Give me a break, guys, she's a nice squirrel -- I have to get her drunk first," replied Frank good-naturedly. "We're going down the block where I have some fermented apples stashed and I'm going to dig up a couple of juicy nuts I've been saving and we're going to make a night of it. In fact," said Frank, lowering his voice conspiratorially, "I might even propose to her if I can work up the courage!"
"Gerroff!" said Seamus. "You old dog you! I never had you pegged for the marrying type!"
"Yeah, this time I'm serious about entering into a mature and nurturing and mutually respectful relationship and I'm going to make it work. I've decided that I'm tired of one-minute stands with any squirrel that has ten nipples -- this time it's love."
"Squirrel love," snickered Al. "It's like muskrat love except smaller and dryer!" And the three squirrels kittered and twitched their tails and went back to work. But if one were to look carefully at young Frank one could detect a dreamy, faraway look in his eyes as he scurried about the yard gathering food....
[Look for "Cry Of The Werehamster: The Next Part" coming soon to a blog near you. -- The Management]