Some say that dove tastes like chicken. I say chicken tastes like dove. Luckily, I brought two into Ralph’s den, as the chairs around his table were full. His wife, girlfriend and both broods were there, nine in all. I threw the birds on the table, and the raccoons lit into them.
Over the din of the snarling, growling and belching, I became aware of a sudden cacophony of squawking that became louder and louder. A squadron of Blue jays lit in the upper branches of the den tree sounding the alarm. Although I knew within a shadow of a doubt what precipitated the alarm, I had to pretend I didn’t. While the jays persisted in continuing the alarm, one of the squirrel sentries I had watched the night before came crawling in. Blood was oozing from a cut over his eye, a large bite made one leg unusable, and he dragged it behind him.
“We’ve come to ask your help, sir.” He lifted a flask of whiskey to his mouth. I supposed that was all that was keeping the vermin moving. “The book. The book has been taken.”
Ralph squinted his eyes as he looked at me. “The book is taken, the map is gone. The plan forsaken, it would be wrong.”
“So wrong,” I said.
Luckily he didn’t get my meaning. His paw patted my back. I felt his claws. A warning?
He said to me, “Take this squirrel back to headquarters. They will heal him if he matters.”
To the squirrel he purred, “I trust Pepe. Tell the Commander he is on loan from me. He’ll get to the bottom of this atrocity!”
I gathered up the broken squirrel and helped him climb on my back. With a shudder, I could feel the fleas abandon his drab fur for mine. My cover was secure, my mission safe. I moved further into the enemy territory. By lunchtime, I was sitting at the Commander’s table, raising a glass of whiskey in salute. “Hail to the Squirrels of Chaos,” I shouted. All the while my eyes memorized their faces, matching them to the names on their stinking badges.
Stay tuned next Thursday for Episode 9: The Ugly, Furry Faces of Chaos