Returning to one’s ancestral homeland offers time for reflection, but also reminds us that even these sacred places are often threatened. Read more →
Dead Squirrel Theatre
What a day it was, with the sky blue and clear, with huge puffy clouds floating by lazily. The sun high in the sky, occasionally being blocked by one of God’s powder puff clouds, and a gentle breeze off the lake made the temperature just right, creating an ideal summer day. My friend Jon and I were in one of our moods of being destructive little men wreaking havoc on the small town of Ontonagon. Jon and I, armed with our Transformer t-shirts and cut-off jean shorts, were skateboarding on the new blacktop the town just completed on Trap Street, adjacent to my grandparents’ house. On our kickass Variflex skateboards we spun 360’s on one wheel, one after the other, seeing how many times we could rotate. The continuous “click click” and “whirl” of the skateboard trucks was echoing up and down the street, surely annoying any retired gentleman’s late morning snooze.
On and on we went until something of great interest caught the corner of my eye. laying half on the sidewalk and half on the lawn of the old retired Ontonagon courthouse building was a large, dead red squirrel. My young evil mind instantly thought of a grand plan. I grabbed my skateboard and ran across the street to my grandparents’ garage where my fishing stuff was always stashed. I grabbed some fish line and ran back to the squirrel corpse. I crafted a harness that went around the little squirrel arms as well as his neck, making a puppet out of him. He wasn’t dead very long because rigamortis hadn’t set in and he was still quite limber. I proceeded to throw the squirrel over a branch of a large tree on the boulevard surrounding the old courthouse building. Jon and I were all set.
We hid in a big bush and had plenty of fish line, holding on to the end of it as we waited for someone to walk by. By simply pulling on the fish line the squirrel would dance in the middle of the road like someone who had way too many whiskeys. We giggled as the squirrel corpse entertained us with its tribal drunken dance in the middle of the street.
Since it was such a nice day there were people walking about. There were several retired, assisted-living residents around the neighborhood so our first victims were two elderly women who didn’t move very fast. I let the squirrel lay dead on the road just until they walked up to it. Then I yanked on the fish line and the squirrel corpse leaped 15 feet in the air, landing with a “splat.” Jon and I heard, “Oh my, did you see that squirrel? It must have rabies! Hurry, let’s go!”
Then I frantically pulled on the fish line to make it jump up and down in the same place several times. The ladies let out a little “yelp” and hustled off in their little old lady run. Tears were rolling down our faces as we laughed and laughed at their response to the flopping squirrel zombie. After we caught our breath, we let the squirrel lay flat again waiting for our next prey to dead squirrel theatre.
A short ten minutes later, our friend Ryan came riding by on his bike. I quickly sprang into action, again jerking on the fish line and frantically making the squirrel carcass dance like a cheerleader hopped up on cocaine. Ryan almost wiped on his bike and actually stopped, got off his bike, leaving it lay in the road. He walked up to the gyrating squirrel. We heard, “What the hell?” in Ryan’s high pitched, prepubescent voice. Then he saw the string, and Jon and I let out a roar of laughter. Ryan knew it was us and quickly grabbed his bike and joined us in the bushes, laughing all the way.
There was more and more laughter as I demonstrated how we entertained the two little old ladies about 15 minutes earlier. We reloaded the tiring squirrel remains and huddled in the bush like three old men fishing in an ice shanty. About 30 seconds later a car came driving around the corner. It was the wife of my grandparents’ neighbor, Mr. Voice, who was a high school math teacher. I didn’t have long to think and I was really sweaty from all of the excitement. With not much time to react, I didn’t want her to run over the squirrel so I pulled hard on the fish line to get him to jump up over the car. My evil little mind thought fast and released the fish line perfectly to get the squirrel to land directly on the driver side windshield making a very loud “SPlAT” sound.
I pulled up hard on the fish line to save the squirrel’s hairy, red dead ass for more fun, but we were caught. We were laughing so hard she saw us in the bushes and stopped the car looking straight at us all laughing in tears. I could see her frown, her huge and disgusted face. She didn’t stop and just drove off so we thought dead squirrel theatre was still a go. About five minutes later, with all of us still sweating and wheezing from laughter-induced asthma, Mr. Voice came trudging over with a frown that created a thousand wrinkles on the top of his balding head. We were still in the bushes and without saying a word, he grabbed the dead squirrel, breaking the fish line with one quick jerk of his wrist and ending dead squirrel theatre forever. We were crushed and all that we could do was let out a big “AWWWW!” from the bushes. Our morbid fun was done, but to this day, never forgotten.