He enters the live trap, within arm’s reach of where I sit still as a bug, unable to drink my wine while he’s so close, and licks the peanut butter from the trip pan as he sneers at me a split second before leaping from the cage and flying to a nearby poplar tree branch, two feet and a half second ahead of the jaws and claws of my bodyguard, licking the goober goo still smeared on his bandit lips.
As soon as the dogs lie back down, Alfie reappears, claws scratching out loud on the vertical uprights as he spirals up and down a dozen of them, like stripes on a barber pole, until he gets to the flat surface of the lakeside bar upon which he jumps and thumps making drumbeat noises with his nails on the surface. I sit silent, two feet away, eyes bugging out in wonderment. The dogs stare in astonishment as the assertive little clown revels in his deviltry, enjoying every moment.
Part way through the afternoon I went inside to rub the ribs I was preparing for the barbeque and while in the kitchen heard the trap doors slam shut. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel happy about that. Alfie had been a wonderful entertainer for me. And my dogs. And the lazy cat.
I pondered some options. Instead of driving Alfie over to Squirrel World where a dozen of his friends from my yard have reunited during the past two weeks. I could simply open the doors and let him scurry out to resume his life here in my tool shed. Maybe I could encourage him to eat peanuts from my hand. With some coaching, perhaps he could learn to wear a tiny Mexican sombrero and ride around the yard on Boomer’s back. I wondered if squirrels like catnip.
Nah, that would be selfish. Probably the kindest, most generous act would be to surprise a friend by dropping off Alfie on his porch in the middle of the night. Let George enjoy the animal antics of the little guy.
No squirrel has ever escaped from my trap. Never. But, when I stepped outside to have a word with Alfie, there was the trap, doors shut tight. Nobody home.
Alfie entertained us for another couple hours, including one more Houdini session where the trap closed up sans my buddy, while I was inside preparing potato wedges to join the ribs on the grill.
The cool of evening eventually drove all of us indoors and as night’s darkness closed in I still had not decided what to do with Alfie. Of course, it was not exactly my decision to make, as Alfred the Great was still roaming free, probably snugged up like a ball in a shredded tee shirt in back of the cupboard in my tool shed.