Squirrel — Part 6

5 February 2013

Artie still likes me. When I bent over to pick up my lantern yesterday, he said, “Put those red-squirrel2boobs away, you’ll get me excited.” I admit I was taken aback, but I apologized and followed his instructions (I took them off and left them in the car) feeling absolutely thrilled and elated that I had inflamed the desire of an antediluvian animal trapper who I’ve now decided is probably a member of the green party, or maybe even a socialist. Well, whatever the political affiliation — he wants me. I asked Lynn if I should be ashamed of how happy I was to have my lambs eyeballed by someone who is practically a geriatric patient and she said well it is problematic to be objectified, but still, some women do like that.

Artie is a very small man with delicate features and tiny hands. His pinky finger must have gotten crushed in something because it is twisted and bent, but the rest of him is very graceful, very lovely. He wears flannel shirts and a camouflage cap, but he never looks imposing. When we pulled down the trap door and unfolded the steps to the attic he brought up a large piece of cardboard to kneel and sit on, presumably so he wouldn’t get squirrel debris on his carharts. I of course wore my new khakis and sat on a dead mouse as soon as we got up there.

We saw two squirrels in the hole the moment we got to the top. I’d never seen Artie so animated. “I *wish* I’d brought my pistol,” he said innumerable times, staring into the hole as the squirrels regarded us warily. “Dammit,” he said, “why didn’t I bring my pistol. I could’ve ended your problem right now.”

He was so ruffled and distracted I didn’t think he was going to be able to show me how to use the Conibear trap. He did show me, but in the end he decided it wouldn’t work. The hole to the outside is too long and narrow, and this particular trap wasn’t going to work in these circumstances and frankly I don’t know what he was talking about, but I’m sure whatever he said makes perfect sense in the trapping world, so I trust him that it won’t work.

He kept lamenting about not having his pistol, which only served to remind me of what a good trapper he must be, since he was all fixated when all I was thinking about was should I get a grilled cheese or that celeriac Reuben at Murray’s on Broadway.

We talked for a long time in the attic, him on his cardboard and me on my mouse, and I sobbed quietly and told him about the professional pest management man and the ludicrous estimate, and he said aw Jesus Christ. I told him the pest management man told me his guys were the best and that they usually catch their squirrels with their bare hands, probably their teeth even. Aw Jesus, he kept saying, shaking his head in disgust.

We decided that my one-way repeater was the best option, but he was also going to make me a similar trap that is shaped like a funnel that you stick to the house, wide side against the hole, pointy end out. The squirrels run out and squeeze through the hole but the wire grabbers curl inwards like a claw so they can’t get back in.

“You have to block up the other squirrel holes first,” he warned me, over and over again. “You have to get your contractor up that ladder to do that.”

“But the company pest man told me that even if you block the holes with hardware cloth they’ll still smell the attic and chew their way back in,” I said.

“Aw Jesus Christ,” he said.

He wouldn’t take any money from me. Eventually he pointed to the passenger side of his truck where a pretzel-shaped man was leaning toward the dashboard. “That’s my son,” he told me. “He’s got cerebral palsy. We were up there at Albany Med for a few weeks when he was three months old. He had that spinal meningitis. Half his brain went.”

I felt really sad about that and wondered on the drive home how a person gets through that kind of thing.

Just as I was pulling into the driveway my phone buzzed. It was our contractor, Rick, calling to tell me that either tomorrow or the next day he’ll be coming by to attach the trap.

Gird your loins, squirrels you. The end is nigh.

ABZ

Go on to Part 7

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