2014 © Anne Rose
In case you were taking me too seriously …
Spring was rained out this year—as usual.
It got to me: the constant drone of drops pelting the roof, the seemingly ever-present darkness like the ninth plague of Egypt hanging over my house. I knew the sun was shining somewhere. If only I could see it.
One day in late May it actually made a cameo appearance. That’s when I emerged from my house-ark to look for dry land. Then, everything seemed transformed by an ethereal brightness. The grass glistened with dew; the chain link fence that encloses the three and a half acres surrounding my house shimmered like a thousand diamonds.
However, this was not a perfect world I found. As I walked along, two aluminum wires caught my eye. Strange that they should be dangling precariously from the chain link fence. Even stranger was the fact that they were cut in half.
Suddenly, my nature walk took on a more serious mission. I quickly surveyed a hundred-foot section of the fence: sixty metallic hangers that laced the top of the fence had been filed to the point where they were nearly falling off the top support structure. The tumblers in my mind hit like a slot machine jackpot: The kid next door must have done this.
His mother didn’t see it that way, though.
By the time I walked the perimeter of our fifteen-hundred-foot fence, I realized that this was no petty vandalism. Close to two hundred hangers had been either filed to paper thinness or completely cut through. Hmm, maybe a bigger kid did this.
Nobody had to hit me with a lightning bolt. I knew it was time to warn the neighbors of a terrorist in our midst! And when they realized that a total of eight other fences were gashed, they agreed it was time for a serious block watch effort—lights, dogs, whatever it took to catch the midnight hacker.
One retired engineer even guessed the assault weapon: a battery-powered die cutter. It was the perfect tool—quick and quiet. And he reminded me how the next-door neighbor’s fence had fallen down in the dark last summer. Why, the little vandal could take out an entire neighborhood in one night. I knew we’d have to act fast before all our fences were destroyed. Maybe the police needed to hear about this, too.
I became obsessed with apprehending the culprit. I felt the need to spread the message. My zeal landed me ten houses down the street. The same telltale signs were present.
That neighbor’s response was not the same as mine, though. “It’s squirrels,” he nonchalantly told me. “Squirrels?” I said. “No, can’t be. This is aluminum, not nuts.” “Hey,” he said, “this has been going on in our yard for a long time. Believe me, it’s squirrels.” “Really?” I asked, grinning inside.
The squirrel idea was too far out, but I couldn’t let it go without checking some facts. “You’d be surprised,” my vet told me. “Squirrels are strange creatures—like rats. They can chew right through the electric wires on your house. And once they get a taste for something, they’ll keep at it. Yep, I’m afraid your neighbor is probably right—I bet it’s squirrels.”
More squirrel stories kept popping up: the neighbor’s cable line that was chewed atop the utility pole; my high school’s now-famous suicide squirrel, whose appetite for electric cable shut down the school for a day. After a while, I found myself on the other side of the fence—believing in the squirrel theory and telling others about it. It was odd, though, how the people I talked to had that distant look in their eyes, as if thinking, “Squirrels, huh?”
So what do you think is going on? Is there a monster kid with a malevolent plot to wreck our neighborhood? Or is it the work of a few playful furballs, scurrying about in the light of day right under our noses?
The future safety of the world might depend on your answer.