Sunday, July 09, 2006

Animal Stories

I never dreamed that slowly cruising on my motorcycle through a
residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous! Little did I
I was on Brice Street - a very nice neighborhood with perfect lawns
and slow traffic. As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile
shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of
me. It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road
when it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there
was no time to brake or avoid it -- it was that close. I hate
to run over animals, and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel
should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the
impact. (Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels, I discovered, can take care
of themselves!)
Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was
standing on his hind legs and facing my oncoming Valkyrie with
steadfast resolve in his beady little eyes. His mouth opened, and at
the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the
scream was squirrel for, "Banzai!" or maybe, "Die you gravy-sucking
heathen scum!" The leap was nothing short of spectacular...He shot straight
up, flew over my windshield, and impacted me squarely
in the chest. Instantly, he set upon me. If I did not know better, I would
have sworn he brought 20 of his little buddies along for the attack.
Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of
activity. As I was dressed only in a light T-shirt, summer riding
gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This furry
little tornado was doing some damage!
Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in
jeans, a T-shirt, and leather gloves, puttering at maybe 25 mph down
a quiet residential street, and in the fight of his life with a squirrel and
losing. I grabbed for him with my left hand. After a few misses, I finally
managed to snag his tail. With all my strength, I flung the evil
rodent off to the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I
recoiled from the throw.
That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there.
It really should have. The squirrel could have sailed into one of the
pristinely kept yards and gone on about his business, and I could
have headed home. No one would have been the wiser. But this was no
ordinary squirrel. This was not even an ordinary angry squirrel.


Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands and, with
the force of the throw, swung around and with a resounding thump and an
amazing impact, he landed squarely on my BACK and resumed his rather
antisocial and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to take my
left glove with him! The situation was not improved. Not improved at all.
His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him. I was
startled, to say the least. The combination of the force of the
throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars,
and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my
right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle
of a Valkyrie can only have one result.


This is what the Valkyrie is made for, and she is very, very good
at it. The engine roared and the front heel left the pavement.

The squirrel screamed in anger.

The Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy.

I screamed in... well... I just plain screamed.

Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in
jeans, a slightly squirrel-torn t-shirt, wearing only one leather glove and
roaring at maybe 50 mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential
street on one wheel, with a demonic squirrel of death on his back. The man
and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder.
With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on
the handlebars and try to get control of the bike. This was leaving the
mutant squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into
somebody's tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how
to release the throttle... my brain was just simply overloaded. I did
manage to mash the back brake, but it had little effect against the massive
power of the big cruiser.
About this time the squirrel decided that I was not paying sufficient
attention to this very serious battle (maybe he was an evil mutant NAZI
attack squirrel of death), and he came around my neck and got INSIDE my
full-face helmet with me. As the face plate closed part way, he began
hissing in my face. I am quite sure my screaming changed intensity. It had
little effect on the squirrel, however. The RPMs on the Dragon maxed out
(since I was not bothering with shifting at the moment), so her front end
started to drop.
Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in
jeans, a very raggedly torn T-shirt, wearing only one leather
glove, roaring at probably 80 mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy
squirrel's tail sticking out of the mostly closed full-face helmet. By now
the screams are probably getting a little hoarse.
Finally I got the upper hand... I managed to grab his tail again, pulled
him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could.
This time it worked ... sort of. Spectacularly sort of to speak.
Picture a new scene. You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off
on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some
paperwork. Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed
in jeans, a torn T-shirt flapping in the breeze, and wearing only one
leather glove, moving at probably 80 mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody
murder roars by, and with all his strength throws a live squirrel grenade
directly into your police car.

I heard screams.

They weren't mine...

I managed to get the big motorcycle under control and dropped the
front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded
to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign of a busy cross
street. I would have returned to 'fess up' (and to get my glove back). I
really would have.


Except for two things.

First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about
me at the moment. When I looked back, the doors on both sides of the patrol
car were flung wide open. The cop from the passenger side was on his back,
doing a crab walk into somebody's front yard, quickly moving away from the
car. The cop who had been in the driver's seat was standing in the street,
aiming a riot shotgun at his own police car. So, the cops were not
interested in me. They often insist to "let the professionals handle it"

That was one thing.

The other?

Well, I could clearly see shredded and flying pieces of foam and
upholstery from the back seat. But I could also swear I saw the
squirrel in the back window, shaking his little fist at me.

That is one dangerous squirrel.

And now he has a patrol car.

A somewhat shredded patrol car... but it was all his.

I took a deep breath, turned on my turn signal, made a gentle right turn
off of Brice Street, and sedately left the neighborhood. I decided it was
best to just buy myself a new pair of gloves. And a whole lot of Band-Aids.


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