Today the First Tree Rat of Spring stuck its' head out of the eaves for a Bullseye Cosmic Weather Report and took a 20-grain Super Colibri twixt the running lights.
Miss Praline, who knows what the swearing-running-grabbing Magic Skwirl Stick means, was waiting for the little furry bastard and nailed his carcass in mid-air.
Miss Mochi, however, is new and
I swear, I almost heard the 'click' when the light went on her little dachsie head.
All of a sudden we're having a major tug-of-war between the 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier on one end and the 17-pound dachshund on the other; I'm trying to find a place to lay the rifle and yelling, "Drop it!", the two of them decide that rotating around each other is the best way to frustrate Daddy; and on the deck Chuy rolls over to let the sun warm his belly fur.
Smart dog, Chuy.
Giving up, I lightly (I hope) toss the Henry into a thick-ish patch of weeds (I really should mow the blasted lawn, but it does tend to make nice padding) lunge and grab Praline. Praline, being the sweet-natured little thing she is, drops her end of the skwirl.
This ... may have been a miscalculation on my part.
Mochi is every bit as sweet-natured as Praline, however, Mochi is a guttersnipe. Mochi had a hard, hard life before we got her and Mochi understands that one simply does not give up that much free protein.
She pivot-turned, drew a bead on the entrance to her extensive network of tunnels under the Morgan building and kicked her "skattle, skattle, skattle" into afterburner. And I'm here to tell you -- short as that little things legs are, under proper motivation she can flat move.
Since I am not gormless, I've got a pretty good idea of what's on her mind -- get the goodie into the Dachsie-cave where Daddy doesn't fit and it can be enjoyed at leisure -- so I take about three steps and do a running dive, both hands up and block the entrance.
Knocking the wind out of meself in the process, I might add.
Up on the deck, Chuy gives a sedate sneeze and luxuriously scratches his back.
Mochi bounces off my out-stretched hands, blinks, recalculates, and we're for a full-on sprint around the Morgan building. Somewhere in the third (maybe fourth, it's hard to keep track when you're wheezing that badly) lap she meets Praline coming around widdershins and there's a full frontal collision.
I take advantage, skid to my knees, scoop up Mochi and her prize and ...
... discover just how strong the jaw muscles of a dachshund are.
Chuy rolls over and stretches leisurely.
Somewhere in-between the "Mochi, drop it!" "Praline! Not! Helping!" "MOCHI! Give up the [redacted] rat!" I finally get her jaws parted, and out of sheer desperation I fling the skwirl over the fence.
And there is peace in my kingdom. I stagger to my feet, pet the pups, pick up the Henry, and ...
... In the tree above my head is another sodding tree rat. Shaking his metaphorical fist at me, cursing my lineage until the end of time, and running ...
... for that damned hole in the eaves.
It was a Zen moment. The entire world narrowed down to that squirrel's ear. My weight came down on my right foot, right hand pulling the rifle into my shoulder. Left thumb eared the hammer back. Squirrel bouncing off the end of the tree branch. Smooth exhale of breath. Rifle tracking. Focus moving from skwirl ear to front sight, brief close of right eye -- front sight exactly where it needed to be. Smooth pull on trigger.
The squirrel abruptly cartwheeled in mid-air. Up in Heaven Col Jeff Cooper grunted appreciatively, angels sang sweetly, and the sun shone down on me. Bee-yoo-tee-ful shot. Couldn't have been done better in a Hollywood film.
And then that tiny little voice in the back of my head yelled, "Oh, you're a silly daft bugger, ain't'cha?" as two furry rockets, one ginger coloured and one white, shot past me.
How-ever-the-hell many dusty minutes later, I'm down on one knee. I've got the skwirl by the tail with my right hand, I've got Praline trapped under the deck with my knee and I've got Mochi snaffled by the collar with my left hand --
-- and Chuy scratches himself happily behind one ear, strolls over to the side of the deck, meditatively removes the rather-bloody carcass from my hand and jauntily ambles towards the open door of the house. Presumably towards his very favourite nest on the bed containing Herself's Very Good, Multiple Thread Count sheets and other good linens.
I [redacted] hate skwirls.