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(I used one cuss word in this story. But I think you’ll agree that I had a right to, considering what I went through. And — it’s not a really bad word.)

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My apartment manager recently gave me a new, updated lease to sign. — Which was fine. I skimmed it, initialed every page, and signed where indicated on page 11. But: attached to the lease was a set of House Rules. Odd, because here I am: 66 years old, and pretty much house-broken. I don’t cause a whole lot of trouble, or make any kind of ruckus these days. I just sit around wishing I could. — However, I thought just for fun, I might look at the two pages of rules, to see if I could learn something. Well, guess what rule #7 was?

“Do not feed any wild animals which may congregate in the yard. It can only lead to problems for you and your fellow Michaelson Manor tenants.” – Sadly, for me, whoever wrote that turned out to be correct. I learned the hard way that feeding wild animals can cause BIG problems.

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Those who know me are aware that my heart has been captured by a small band of squirrels which lives outside the window of my little senior citizen pad in the big city of Seattle, Washington. For the past two and a half years, I’ve enjoyed feeding the little critters, and getting to know them.

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I recently read that if she was large enough, my cat would kill and eat me.

And my huge cat, Katgrrrl, gets a big kick out of watching their antics. Sometimes when she sees them out there, she paws the window like crazy, in an attempt to do them some serious harm. But she can’t knock down the glass which separates her from them. The squirrels are safe.

You know what? All this time, I was concerned about the squirrels’ safety, when actually, I should have been worried about mine!

There are several of the little gray squirrels who hang out, play and feed on the patch of ground outside my window. And I have a favorite one: the petite, girl-squirrel whom I call Winkle. She’s very sweet, actually. When I give her a walnut or an almond, she makes a cute little “thank you” sound. Until I heard her make her sound, I didn’t know squirrels could talk. She tends to get more nuts than the other squirrels….

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Winkle has always been very gentle with me – sociable, you may say. She politely takes the nut right out of my fingers, says thank you, and sits there on the window sill eating it, or at least chewing it up and stuffing it into her cheeks.

Winkle has a boyfriend (or husband). I call him Rocky. And now you know how Winkle got her name: I couldn’t call her Bullwinkle – she’s a girl-squirrel. So I call her Winkle. (And yes, it’s easy to tell a boy from a girl. For their size, the boys are rather shall we say, blessed.) Anyway: On a beautiful, early fall day, I was feeding Rocky through the hole in the window screen which that mean ole’ Mr. Raccoon made one night, when he was trying to kill Katgrrrl. He couldn’t get to her (she was ready to fight to the death if he did!); but he did manage to tear a small hole in the screen. I use that hole for squirrel feeding.

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This time, Rocky decided to change up the routine, by crawling in through the hole as far as he could, which was almost all the way; and, instead of taking the tempting California almond from my fingers, which I innocently offered him, he decided to target my actual fingers! He bit down on the thumb and index finger of my right hand, and he simply would not let go. He was just grinding away like some kind of monster in a horror movie. When I saw all the blood I was losing, and when I felt his scalpel-like incisors go through my flesh like the proverbial butter, my dinosaur brain kicked in, saying, “The little bastard is going to kill you if you don’t act fast”. So, I pulled away from Rocky, just as quickly and as hard as I could. And do you know what happened? I pulled him into my apartment! Yes! And he was hanging on, ready for whatever came next. Well, I started swinging my arm around and around, trying to get the little monster to let go. That was all I could think of to do, at the time. Finally, he unclamped, and went sailing across the room. Not to worry: he landed on my nice soft couch; and he immediately scampered away, out of sight.

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Three weeks after the incident. Still healing.

I stood in the living room, bleeding all over the place, in shock and in pain. I was also struck by the thought that I had a wild animal loose in my apartment, and that didn’t help things at all. – I finally calmed down, went into the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and wrapped Kleenex around my finger, while holding my hand over the sink. It took about fifteen minutes for the bleeding to subside. When it finally lessened, I poured hydrogen peroxide all over the wounds, and then I put about a half-box of Band-Aids on my thumb and finger. Boy-howdy, did it hurt. I remained in shock for a good hour. It’s hard to imagine, even now, how such a little animal, which probably doesn’t even weigh a pound, could wreak such havoc on a big old guy like me!

Well, I spent the rest of the afternoon and that evening searching for Rocky. And I couldn’t find him. In fact, I never found him. I left the window open for a couple of days, in case he wanted to try to go through the hole in the screen, and get back to where he once belonged, as has been said.

But, nope. I never found Rocky. I have no idea what became of him. Maybe he’s hiding under my bed. And one of these nights he’s going to emerge, and bite my nose right off my face! — But! I will say this: I know my Katgrrrl pretty well. I’ve been living with her for four years now. And I am thinking she’s looking a little plumper these days….

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No, I don’t hand-feed the squirrels any more, not even Winkle. I toss about an ounce of nuts through the hole, once a day, and let the little (censored) fight over them. And yes, I am breakin’ rule #7!

And no, in spite of all of the advice I received from various Facebook friends, I didn’t go to the doctor for a rabies and/or tetanus shot. I may be a sensitive new age guy; but I’m still a guy.

It’s been over a month. My jaw finally feels like it’s starting to loosen up a little, and my fear of water seems to be diminishing. Somewhat. And now you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go howl at the moon.


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