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“Early one June morning in 1872 I murdered my father — an act which made a deep impression on me at the time.” — Ambrose Bierce

Santa Enchirito as I sometimes like to call it, has been my home town for nearly half a century. Geologists visited here in the 1970s and made a startling discovery. It seems billions of years ago, or six months if you’re a Fundamental Christian, the moon broke apart from Earth right smack dab here. It accounts for our eclectic nature, watered down in recent years by an influx of latte-swilling condo monkeys some call yuppies.

A while back, while breakfasting at this unique little cowboy coffee shop called the Way Station, I was sharing a booth with some designer humans. She was electrically beautiful with soft red hair. He was your generic bored but useless 30-something pretending to be Eurotrash.

The words flowed from her mouth in a slight Florida drawl, as if in slow motion. At that moment, I knew what Hank Aaron meant when he said there were days where he could see the stitches rotating in slow motion on a 102 mph fastball.

Red asked me, in deadly seriousness, how we killed squirrels in Santa Enchirito.

From her standpoint, it was a legitimate question. She and Bruno had just survived weekend of miniature horror after finding a half-dead squirrel in the condo parking lot of their endless yuppie concentration camp.

My wildlife prognosis was that a hawk had kidnapped the squirrel, flown to the upper reaches of the stratosphere, then, ping, opened his claws and dropped the little rodent. Not being a flying squirrel, it found the earth’s pull undeniable. They say it isn’t the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop. Not so with this telephone wire nibbling mammal. He lived.

For a while.

Red’s boyfriend, big surprise, had some friends in a motorcycle gang. He called them. From her description and accusing glances at her indifferent partner, it seems the trio of bikers lived in a drug-induced state pretty much 24/7. Like they do this four times a week, the bikers took the still alive squirrel to a lawn and shot it.

Six times.

So Red swore.

Funny. Home owner associations have more rules than Judaism, but somehow, they never included: “Thou shalt not shoot injured squirrels on the commons…”

She told me that after the haze of gunfire, this Rasputin of squirrels still lived until a magic seventh bullet proved to be most Kevorkian. I’m trying to not look at her like she voted for Obama.

It was a most surreal breakfast. A squirrel, dropped from another galaxy, survives re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and then is shot seven times by a motorcycle gang in a pristine sissy all beige townhouse project.

As if to be polite and include me in her conversation, Red asked me: “So. How do you people kill squirrels where you live?”

I didn’t like the “you people.” It was somehow, demeaning. Like we didn’t have running water or barber shops.

“I don’t kill squirrels any more,” I said.

“Why?” she asked.

“I’ve been converted,” I said. “I’m a squirrel Mormon.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t follow…”

“It’s an offshoot of Mitt Romney’s religion,” I explained. “We believe, well, not me, but a few of my parishioners at the enclave, that when you die, you return to a planet ruled by squirrels. Obviously, if you’ve built bad squirrel karma, it’s not going to be any picnic living an eternity on a planet ruled by giant squirrels.”

I pegged her for a Democrat, someone who would have no problem savaging ordinary Christians, but who would have an ethical issue with taking on someone with kooky beliefs. She nodded, then squeezed my hand.

I’ve had ex-wives tell me the one thing they found particularly chilling about our brief parentheses together was that I could lie so convincingly with a straight face.

“Like Ted Bundy,” the analogy was once made.

I looked into the trusting eyes of my red-haired friend. I said the word, “Well…” with a Reganesque nonchalance.

What to do?

Actually, I’m not much of a killer of anything, including squirrels, Anabaptists, life insurance salesmen. But I’m not above taking an hour from someone’s life, especially someone from out of town, to — how do we say in the between the coasts? Embellish?

“How do ‘we people’ (like the ones who say howdy and wear cowboy hats?) kill squirrels?”

I considered a response:

“We’ve always had a problem with squirrels in Santa Enchirito from as far back as I can remember. I underwent years of therapy because of my Uncle Horace. The psychoanalysis, the antidepressants, the treatment centers — they never could undo what Uncle Horace had wrought on my impressionable mind. A failed and humiliated vet, my uncle forced me to help him set traps for ground squirrels. He made the tiniest little picnic table and bench, then hooked it up to his car battery. He’d place a small steel plate of tiny pancakes on the little table, complete with a thimble to hold a small arrangement of flowers. The jolt never killed the squirrels. Just made them disoriented. Tongues out, they’d goose-step in circles around the ranch, spin a 360 and collapse. It always gave me the creeps. Horace had a dresser drawer filled with hundreds of tiny, squirrel-sized gingham handkerchiefs, neatly ironed. He take one and douse it in chloroform. He’d cup the squirrel’s fuzzy little head firm in the back, then hold the handkerchief firmly over his mouth until it passed out and keep it there and keep it there and keep it there. Unconscious, Horace would then take a big, industrial-size set of cymbals and crash them together over the squirrel. They die of shock in their sleep. The whole family was strange like that, but no one could hold a candle to Horace. I remember, one Christmas, we had tickets to see ‘Alvin & the Chipmunks’ down at the Pantages. Some poor college kid was dressed in costume like Alvin. Horace wrestled him to the ground and out comes the chloroform. I’m sure the poor kid had a promising life ahead. Horace was given 612 years, one for every tiny handkerchief he used on that poor, defenseless mascot. Had the youth been a mime, and what with our over-crowded prisons today, I’m sure Horace would be free by now.”

Had I sound effects, this would have been a good place to play Iron Butterfly’s “Inna gada da vida…”

Red stared at me. Thin eyebrows up. Waiting.

How do we kill squirrels in Santa Enchirito?

By locking the chattering, damaged with the big bushy tail critter in a room with a bunch of regional planning executives who use the word “mitigate” out of context until such time, the squirrel presses its face to a windowpane and screams in silence to an indifferent world, “Kill me.”?

By tying them to a little chair with squirrel duct tape and forcing them to watch just about anything on network TV until their eyes cross?

By using gallons of hairspray, recombing their fur and smearing garish amounts of lipstick like Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” so they look like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and are ridiculed over conservative talk squirrel radio?

In an out-of-the-way cowboy coffee shop, a beautiful red-haired woman once asked me: “How do you people kill squirrels in the Santa Enchirito Valley?”

“Thoroughly,” I finally said, smiling sardonically. “And certainly, not with kindness.”

 

(SCV author John Boston also writes The Time Ranger & SCV History for your SCV Beacon. He’s has earned more than 100 major awards for writing, including being named, several times, America’s best humor, and, best serious columnist. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website, America’s Humorist — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.

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