When we moved to our current home, nine months ago, it was clear that the grounds were possessed. Not by a gentle spirit or malevolent ghost but with a stalker-alpha squirrel with a distinctive tail. The squirrel became so familiar to us during the first few weeks of unpacking that the girls figured they should name him.
Like many super-natural beings, Gerald is omnipresent. We’re sure each squirrel sighting is Gerald because of his unusually shaped cat-like tail. Not following normal squirrel seasonal patterns, he never stops digging up his stashes or burying new treasures in every square inch of our yard, including potted plants. The ground around our house is dimpled with Gerald’s handiwork making it look like the hood of a car after a hailstorm.
He only stops to taunt our slow-witted, hyper-protective English bulldog, Otis. Although he never succeeds, Otis attempts to climb Gerald’s tree which ends with Otis on his back flailing his short legs and wiggling his odd pig-like body for the embarrassing eternity it takes to flip himself over. The squirrel watches the struggle and then he’s gone.
Gerald lacks all fear of humans, too. We have a sliding glass door with large windows in our dining area that looks out on the pecan trees that form the boundary with our neighbor’s yard. Gerald lies outstretched on his stomach on a branch that is center stage to our view, creating a platform for him to have visual access inside our home whenever he wants. Rarely does a meal go by without Gerald joining us at some point.
Recently he has upped his surveillance and we’re sure that he has created clones to help him with his mission. The clones look and act like him except for the distinctive tail. Gerald is their leader.
He has become more brazen in his tactics. Gerald, flanked by several of his minions, stands in what looks like a runner’s start on the wall that follows our entrance way and watches me walk to the front door. The wall puts the squirrels at eye level and only a foot or so away from my head.
The girls think he wants to be our friend. I know differently since I have met his gaze. Gerald has a look that warns me that it’s not out of the question that he and his clones may take me down. Just last week I found Gerald standing on his haunches in the potted plant next to our front door, pecan in mouth, giving me the stink eye.
I don’t have a tidy ending for this blog post. The story will have to be left open but with one request. If I go missing, check the grounds around our house – surely that’s where Gerald and his clones will bury me.