Sunday, January 13, 2013
The Case of the Frying Squirrel
By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for cremation
With eight kids, there was always something going bump in the night: doors, the occasional kid bumping into the wall or falling off the bed, books, toys falling from laps even tree branches hitting the roof. We are now down to two kids and the bumps in the night are fewer and farther between.
That is why I was startled when I was awakened at 1a.m. with the bump-bump-flutter-scratch-scratch sound coming from the bedroom fireplace. We haven’t had a fire in this fireplace in ten years. Dang, must be a mouse that got into the firebox from the outside ash door. That would account for the scratching. Bump-bump-flutter-flutter. Ok, maybe a bird. Birds make that flutter sound when they come down the chimney and get trapped. But bump-bump? And bump-bump-flutter-scratch-scratch? Ok maybe a mouse, a bird, and a what? A bat? Time to wake up Dr. Hubby.
“There’s something in the fireplace. Kill it!”
“If it’s in the fireplace, it can’t get out.”
“I don’t care. Wake up, Daniel Boone, and KILL IT”. At that point membership in ASPCA and PETA meant nothing.
Of course when he finally found the flashlight and investigated, the noise had stopped. “Wait for it. Wait for it” and yes bump-bump-flutter-scratch-scratch. And there it was a flying squirrel.
“I’ll get my gun.”
“Stop. Gun, bird shot, metal firebox, ricochet. No gun.”
“Ok, I’ll start a fire. That should run him out.”
Like I said, there hadn’t been a fire in the fireplace in ten years but there was still wood in there. He lit a match. The fire started up and so did the smoke.
“Damper! Damper!” I had read that in emergency situations short commands are best.
“Did! Did!” He had read the same article.
He finally remembered that up was open and down was closed but by that time the room was thick with smoke. I opened the patio door and he turned on the central heating unit fan. You could see the smoke hesitate and hang in the air as it was torn between going up and out with the central fan unit, or down out the patio door, or retreating through the chimney. At that moment the gentle rain turned into a cloud burst and water was splashing onto the bedroom carpet from the open patio door.
He opened the fireplace glass doors to encourage the smoke to go up the chimney. I remembered he said “it” couldn’t get out if the glass doors were closed so I armed myself with a broom in case the critter tried to escape. More newspapers made for a hotter fire, less smoke, and more fluttering and flopping as the flying squirrel tried to avoid being the frying squirrel. It must have been a male squirrel. I was giving him directions on how to get safely out but he wasn’t listening.
After turning a weeks’ worth of newspapers into ash, the fluttering stopped. In its place we were treated to the smell of burning fur, wet carpet, and frying squirrel.
After thirty minutes the fire died down, the bump-bump-flutter-scratch-scratch had turned into sizzle-sizzle-fizz-fizz-oh-what-a-relief-it is. I said a quick prayer for the deceased.
Then bump, bump, slam, slam. Child number seven staggers from wall to wall down the hall into the bedroom. “What’s all the noise?” Bump, bump, thud, thud. Child number eight wanders into the room, eyes wide shut. “What’s that smell? Is it morning? Is Mama cooking breakfast already?”
“Nothing to worry about. Mystery solved. Just the wind”….and the rain and the smoke and the previously flying now frying dead squirrel. “Go back to bed.”
The Case of the Frying Squirrel was closed…and cremated.