by G. K. Brannen
There come the lil bastards. The air is cool – spring is upon the land.
The gardens are growing – vines along the fence – pod and bloom.
The azalea’s color has gone; the Dogwood takes its place.
The sun warms – Box turtles mate.
I stand in my back door looking over the menagerie of color working to be brilliant. I step outside on the deck, my little fat-dog close behind. Little fat-dog is part Beagle, part Basset, and full-time pain in the ass. He’s a foster-child; a no-body-wants-me-castoff; and, if I may add: that-dog-won’t-hunt-kinda-guy. We, he and I, stand there true wannabe rulers of our domain. And, then, there’s them – the lil bastards. Marauders of the realm; the holy terrors of gardens and flower pots everywhere. Squirrels – the little tree-rats from Hell. Every year, I think about pop’n a few with my pellet gun; that is, if I had a pellet gun. I could go buy one. But no, I’d rather piss and moan about the whole damn thing, and remind my full-time-fat-dog and part-time-cat that neither one of them are holding up their end of the bargain and fighting off the poachers of flower petals and pods.
I remember last spring Fat-Dog and me were headed to my foraging shed one day. I opened the door and all over the floor – pine-cone scales – all over the concrete pad, work table, shelves, and other assorted surfaces. Well, the only thing that eats pine cone scales in my neighborhood is, of course, the lil bastards. I said a few minor profanes, looked around, and sure-nough, a couple had done broke in and made themselves to home inside my fertilizer spreader that hangs on the far wall. They had a collection of cardboard, oil-rags, straw, leaves and other such all mashed down and comfy right there under our very noses. As usual, my fat-dog claimed ignorance. And, part-time-cat, well, she was nowhere to be seen. How, I pondered, did they manage to get in? Then, I looked up at the air vent. Sure enough, they had managed to bend the metal flanges, chew through the mesh wire and gain squatting rights. Fat-dog looked at me, I at him, and we agreed – something must be done. I promptly got out a roll of chicken wire, a hand full of sheet metal screws, my ladder, and my brand new Craftsman handy-dandy speed drill complete with assorted bits. After about ten minutes or so, we knew success. The metal frame was returned to its near original shape and it now had a new chicken wire “stay-the-hell-outa-here” screen. Fully satisfied with our constructive prowess, fat-dog and I returned to the house. Part-time-cat sat licking her paws with that smart-ass “Garfield” smirk on her face indicating: “you two are pathetic.”
The next morning, fat-dog and me went to survey our property. We, of course, felt pretty good and looked forward to returning to our veranda and enjoying a virgin bloody-Mary with a stalk of celery – “the breakfast of gardeners everywhere.” I checked the outside of the vent. What? – Violated! – Again! I opened the door and entered. The second thing I saw – that little face, and his eyes were screaming, ALARM! ALARM! The lil bastard jumped from the spreader, to the shelf, to the rafter, and charged for the impaired chicken wire to initiate a fast escape. He would have made it too except for one, small, tiny, weeny problem. On his flight through the wire, he forgot to consider his male appendage – yep, his little member got caught in the wire. His little head was half out the vent. His little legs were just ago’n a hundred to noth’n. His tail just do’n a fat Tuesday dance. And, his little member stuck: Stuck! – Stuck! – Stuck; like an aircraft landing on an aircraft carrier at sea: wire caught, clamped, halted, maintaining an abrupt stoppage in forward movement … he and his little member were at a dead halt. Damned funniest thing I’d seen since my Box turtles were mating in my front yard – you ever seen Box turtles mate? Well, if you have, you’ll know how funny that lil bastard looked with his little member hung fast in that wire. He did finally manage to put everything in a reverse gear, get unhung, and resume his getaway. I know you want to feel sorry for the lil bastard and his soon to be sore little member. But, …
It’s the lil bastards in this world that unknowingly brings joy to me, my fat-dog, and my part-time cat. What, I ask you, would our world be like without the mating box turtles, lil bastards, and such?