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No more barriers to cross

Surpassed on January 15, 2023.

I never knew precisely how many squirrels there were at 229B Bouillabaisse Boulevard. The twitchy little rodents were up in the trees, scurrying to and fro… down in the yard, squirreling about… and frequently gnawing on my car tires, employing their deadly razor-sharp fangs as Nature intended. I never knew how many squirrels there were. Until that day they all disappeared. Then I knew there were zero—for a while.

Today I knew there were precisely 157. I counted them after they returned. I counted them today. Now there were 157. I watched the twitchy little rodents scurry about and engage in their squirrelly duties. Then I casually lobbed a grenade at one as he furtively approached my Snoodabaker, fangs bared, to nosh on the right rear tire. I missed. The grenade exploded in the street right in the path of a passing tanker truck. Luckily it was a milk tanker and even more luckily, my “grenade” was a glass bottle full of curdled milk. No conflagration ensued. Just confusion, a startled trucker, a stinky mess, and one laughing squirrel.

I harrumphed loudly and resolved next time to use a jar of nuts from my galumph trees. Much more explosive.

I went back indoors, doodled something obscene on a lampshade, and sat down to dinner. I then got up, flushed, wondered why dinner had been placed on my bathroom sink, and went back downstairs. I doodled something obscene on another lampshade, spent 96 minutes watching my favorite movie for the 37th time, then sat down to breakfast. Momentarily perplexed how breakfast broke out so late at night (rather than early to mid-morning, when most fast-breakings are wont to transpire), I just shrugged at the surreality of it all, doodled something obscene on my last lampshade, and went back upstairs. It was my last staircase too. I had eaten most of the others, and doodled obscenities on the ones I hadn’t eaten.

Someone named Hannah Bunzey had doodled all over my beer cans. A crater-laden Moon, a cloudy sky, two flying saucers levitating what looked like more beer cans, and—more curiously—what looked like a sunflower with a man’s face (or I was suffering from extreme pareidolia again). I wondered if each of the little beer cans being abducted by aliens had, in turn, the same artwork on them. That could get very concentrically complicated! I wondered why there also appeared to be a flying lemon in the sky. And then I stared wall-eyed into the doleful face of the sunflower until the sunflower stared back into my soul. I ran upstairs in a fright, back downstairs in a snit, and finally buried the can in my back yard so it wouldn’t invade my dreams and make me sleepwalk into my neighbor’s outhouse again. (At least I think that was his outhouse.)

I sighed as I put away the shovel. I had so much buried back here—and so much more burying to do. Eight billion squirrels is a lot of squirrels!



“When we was kids, we used to hunt squirrls too.”

“For food?”

“Naw.”



Billions of squirrel bones and pelts greeted me in my dreams this week. They were angry at me. But there would soon be billions less. Then there would be billions more because squirrels are randy little munchkins and schtupp like rabbits. But I would skin and bone those too. I prayed to Ka‘ū to give me the strength needed to flay eight billion squirrels. These weren’t night terrors, oh no—these were night jubilations.

Still dinner and breakfast greeted me in the bathroom each night. (Curiously, never lunch.) A plate of shelled garefowl eggs on the sink, slices of bacon dangling limply from the over-sink mirror, and link upon link of fresh sausage hanging from the shower rod. Steaks and kidneys were piled high on the toilet seat. Whole slabs of meat rested in the tub. More and more of this eggy, greasy, meaty, bloody goodness piled up each night in my fourth-storey loo—even on days I never went in there. (My neighbor still had that outhouse.) I was at a loss to explain any of this. The squirrels were of no help. The gnomes were mum; the gnutes mummer. I buried more squirrels in the back yard. The gnomes and gnutes proved too elusive to capture, bludgeon, flense, and bury. I shrugged it off (one must be willing to shrug lots of “its” off in a life like mine), went back to my basement, and continued fashioning new lampshades out of shaven squirrel pelts.

I awoke to the Sun climbing over the horizon, positioning Herself to broil me alive. Bare galumph branches hung overhead, birds tweeted, and mastodons tooted. Off in the distance, larger birds honked and hissed. I blinked a couple times, then smirked. Bare of both leaves and squirrels, I thought, looking at those branches. I rolled over, groaned, and looked down at the ground 157 storeys below. (Or was it six?) My Snoodabaker’s tire rims were bare. I took it as a sign from the dread god Ka‘ū that I had much to do. Much more to do.

I climbed down from the roolf.



“When I was twelve, I made my own pair of mittens out of squirrl skins, y’know.”

“Because you needed mittens?”

“Naw. Because I sure do hate squirrls.”

And that was something else that brought Becasue and I together: Our mutual hatred for squirrels.



There once was a man named Mr. Snulbug. And there was another man named Mr. M’Nummenschantz. Mr. Snulbug said to Mr. M’Nummenschantz, “Nor has oofer fooferah my gibbleys ere I forstake my grunial wardibbleys. For othermore, I cannot umpsee thoth hamables, undertook where whenceupon all over and whereunder has one a-taken my wamables.” Light Muzak played in the background as Mr. M’Nummenschantz contemplated his answer.

Mr. M’Nummenschantz, hand contemplatively on his chin like a certain door-to-door salesman, answered at last: “Glattily! Forkle and gorkle them, my good Mr. Snulbug, as had smeeped a curious zebra broker aforeweek: A furious one I might add, furiouser and furiouser because his zebraic inventory was spuriously eaten up by a loose flock of carnivorous geese!” The Muzak took on a darker note. “And a-gorkling that equidmonger went indeed: He gorkled all those fang-geese, mercilessly, and gorkled the foolish oaf who loosed them upon the world. Even more ruthlessly, while never forgetting to carefully—and fribidibbously, I might additionally add moreover and once under—recite the auld Hunnish anthem like the devout horse-worshipper his dear m’mother had taught him to be.”

“Freeh fraah frooh those wardibbleys,” Mr. Snulbug continued this paternostical rhyme, “Aye, and frundupplemore: A gargle argle fibblee.”

It was a poetry of a kind. A kind that few understood and even fewer bothered to write in the twenty-first century (let alone this twenty-third year of said century). But some did and some even understood it. And one of those who understood it was Mr. Snulbug. And another who understood it was Mr. M’Nummenschantz. And so they spoke like this to each other daily.

And a third understood it, too—understood the implications of it all, and the imprecations to Ka‘ū and the Owl Gods that were hidden in between the nonsense syllables and puersome rhyme: That third was I.

And those geese sure got gorkled. Mercilessly. And the oaf? He was fed through a paper shredder by Mr. Murbeltrüppenzieälter who then fed the result to his dog Kibble-Butt. Klick, Klack, and Kluck had alibis. Pow, Biff, and Zork too. I had an alibi. I was in my neighbor’s outhouse. (Since when does my neighbor have an outhouse?)



I call it my “roolf” because it’s opposite my floor and “floor” spelled backwards is “roolf.” It may be covered in millions upon millions of bits and pieces of gray squirrels but I still call it my “roolf.” It may have previously been the source of thousands of rotting fish falling onto my stoop, but I still call it my “roolf.”

I have too many squirrels.

I have too many squirrels.

I have too many squirrels.

My neighbor doesn’t have an outhouse anymore.

I have nowhere to go now.

Surrounded by the ghosts of 368 trillion squirrels, it became apparent: There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. My palatial house grew another storey. Soon it would have 717. Then 818. Then more. Then I would reach the heavens and greet Ka‘ū personally. Ka‘ū would want my squirrels. And their pelts. And all the delicious meat piling up and hanging and dangling and dripping in my fourth-storey lavatory.

Indeed I never knew precisely how many squirrels there were at 229B Bouillabaisse Boulevard. But those billions of squirrel-pelt lampshades mean there are fewer now! And the more there are, the less there will be. Truly it was phlogistically fantastical.