Squirrels are Not What They Seem

Squirrels are Not What They Seem

I feed squir­rels every­day in a park. I start­ed feed­ing them wal­nuts be­cause I was told they were the best thing for them. The hard shell was great for their teeth as op­posed to peanuts and the soft shell. I was spend­ing about $14/week on feed­ing them wal­nuts, but it was worth it. They were so damned grate­ful, and I learned how to feed them with­out get­ting my fin­gers scratched or bit­ten.

They came to ex­pect me, and when I would ar­rive, I heard the clack­ing of their joy as they were most like­ly saying, "He’s here, the god­damn mes­si­ah is here! Re­joice!" They would come swarm­ing, and I would put the nuts in the crook of the arm of one of their trees, or I would toss the nuts to oth­ers who were scam­per­ing quick­ly to­ward me from oth­er ar­eas of the park.

All was beau­ti­ful with me and the squir­rels. For the mag­i­cal hour or so that I would be out there, I was un­con­cerned with the dis­so­lu­tion of ALL THAT WAS GOOD in the world. I knew in the back of my mind there was evil flour­ish­ing in the coun­try, but when the squir­rels took a wal­nut from me, it had to wait to oc­cu­py my mind.

The turn­ing point came on a scorch­ing Wednes­day in the San Fer­nan­do Val­ley in July. The wild­fires were burn­ing out of con­trol, and the pan­dem­ic was in its fourth month. To breathe was a chal­lenge. I was dis­ori­ent­ed from the lack of oxy­gen, and my mood was foul. I don’t know how I did it, but I was able to com­mu­ni­cate with one of the squir­rels on a lev­el that went be­yond the cute­ness of feed­ing it. I dis­tinct­ly heard the squir­rel say to me:

"Just tell us what you want done."

Just tell us what you want done. I stared at this al­pha squir­rel for a minute be­fore I re­al­ized we were indeed com­mu­ni­cat­ing. I know some of you, maybe all of you, read­ing this are think­ing "oh cute, let’s see where this sto­ry goes, nice jump of imag­i­na­tion," or "how trite." No, no, no and no. I was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with these in­cred­i­bly soul­ful brown beasts, and it wasn’t be­cause I was mi­cro-dos­ing or had start­ed on Ke­t­a­mine ther­a­py, or I had come from a bro­ken, shat­tered home that would have made Char­lie Dick­ens proud (all of which were true: I was do­ing small amounts of LSD as pre­scribed by a friend of mine, who has since gone on to be­come a Hedge­fund Man­ag­er for Melvin Cap­i­tal, I was on Ke­t­a­mine ther­a­py for se­vere de­pres­sion be­cause of an ac­ci­dent at a shoot­ing range in­volv­ing an ex and her ten­nis in­struc­tor that was still in the courts, and my bro­ken home that I came from be­dev­iled my every step).

I was able to guide and co­or­di­nate a gang of squir­rels with my thoughts. Just tell us what you want. I first had them do benign, pos­i­tive things. I asked if they would show me that this was in­deed real by do­ing a chore­o­graphed dance of some sort. Im­me­di­ate­ly, I was treat­ed to an in­cred­i­ble version of the Broad­way hit Chica­go. The play was nev­er crisper or tighter or more brazen. It also had a sense of hu­mor that was de­light­ful. I have seen many ver­sions of Chica­go, and not once was it done with this light a touch, this kind of whim­sy.

The game was afoot. If these squir­rels could do Chica­go (and soon af­ter that Hamil­ton and Carousel, fol­lowed by Rent and A Walk in the Woods), then they could do any­thing. I in­struct­ed them to bring me a schemat­ic of the lo­cal Chase Bank. I was peev­ed at Chase for their in­vest­ment in the Key­stone Pipe­line and oth­er hor­rif­ic projects that were re­sult­ing in the de­struc­tion of the ecosys­tem, so I sought vengeance in the name of the com­mon man (by the way, dear read­er: the to­tal num­ber of words at the end of the last sen­tence was 666 ha­ha­ha­ha­haa­ha).

Sure enough, within an hour and a half, the squir­rels had brought me the orig­i­nal archi­tec­tur­al blue­prints of said fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion at Lanker­shim and River­side Drive. They laid it out be­fore me, and I stud­ied it and re­al­ized that there was a fa­tal flaw in the de­sign. The vents that pumped air con­di­tion­ing into the vault were ac­ces­si­ble through the donut shop next door. Dig this: The vat that made the cream for the Bos­ton cream donuts blocked an en­trance to the duct work vents to the vault. All I would have to do was get a job in the donut store, and when mak­ing the donuts, which was al­ways done at some un­god­ly hour in the mid­dle of the night, I could move the vat and scam­per into the vault!

I pressed a suit and sprayed cologne on my neck and put to­geth­er a re­sume. I lied on the re­sume say­ing I had worked in a non-ex­is­tent donut store in New Hamp­shire called Glazed and Con­fused. I walked into the donut store (which was called The Powdered Keg) and asked if there was an open­ing, and I slid my re­sume onto the counter with a flair and a con­fi­dence. Oh! I for­got to men­tion: in my fash­ion­able brief­case, I had two squir­rels who agreed to come with me as backup.

The own­er of the shop said I was in luck, as an em­ploy­ee had tak­en their life and the life of an­oth­er em­ploy­ee in a love tri­an­gle that in­volved gaso­line, a lack of mon­ey, and a cache of drugs that would make Sean Penn blanche. I was in, as were the squir­rels in my bag, and I im­me­di­ate­ly was giv­en a donut smock and the keys to the shop. The own­er walked me through the ba­sics of open­ing and clos­ing the store, and he jumped into his car say­ing he would be back in an hour. I nev­er saw him again.

The rest of this tale is so shock­ing and so hor­ri­ble and so squir­rel-cen­tric that you will have to tune in next week for the fin­ish. If I were to fin­ish this sto­ry now, you would be ren­dered in­ca­pable of con­tin­u­ing with your life.

Let’s just leave it at that.

Comic Eddie Pepitone's special For the Masses was named "NY Times Funniest Special" of 2020. His critically-acclaimed special IN RUINS debuted on Netflix, now on Amazon. Eddie's on tons of TV.
More posts by Eddie Pepitone.
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