A story needs its climax, or it isn’t a story. It’s a tell-about or a ramble or a flat-line, unsatisfying at best, provoking at worst.
Here is the climax to the epic of the squirrel on the back porch.
I did not actually “go in” when I said I was. I chickened out. Something about climbing the ladder and being at eye level with an unpredictable, strong-willed, female animal, no matter the size, completely cowed me. Plus the possibility of encountering some soggy babies, pink, mewling, and blind, made me retract like a turtle. If a woman can be said to be unmanned, I was.
Who knows where ideas come from, especially simple, self-evident ones. But I remembered at that moment that I have an 18-year-old son. Isn’t rat-removal what sons are for?? Isn’t rat-removal a small thing to ask after, well, everything starting with morning sickness up ‘til the most recent load of post-soccer-practice laundry? Soccer practice being the reason he wasn’t home at the moment, I had to wait until the next morning on the way to school to officially commission him.
“Soldier,” I said, “Take that hill!”
And I decamped to my bivouac to watch the progress via binoculars.
Out he strode that afternoon to do battle, cheerful and willing, but hurrying because he and his mates were on the way to Taco Bell to get one of those new concoctions said to be bigger than the internet. He wore his welding goggles and gloves. A squirrel sat out in the yard up on her haunches, watching, pretending to eat a left-over pecan. Was it her? Our squirrel? Was it her henchwoman and spy? Was our squirrel even now in the nest, awaiting the first nestquake, claws at the ready?
The hungry, Taco Bell-bound warrior on the ladder knocked twice on the beam, scooped up two loads of pine straw and my shredded chair cushions, deposited them in the herb garden, and cantered off to Tex-Mex heaven.
So, no, no rabid attack, no soggy babies, just me in the anticlimax realizing that it is perfectly ok to devolve unpleasant tasks onto one of the kids and lose none of my self-respect.