I nearly ran over Suicide Squirrel while taking Bob Johnson to the vet the other day. (Bob Johnson is fine. He needed to get his rug shampooed.)

Suicide Squirrel’s dash was determined and precise. It was most certainly a bid for oblivion. Surely he had chosen me, and that deserted stretch of country road, for no other purpose.

How he made it across Coburn Mountain Road remains a mystery. By the time I saw Suicide Squirrel, I’d already kind of written him off. In the split-second it had taken me to see him and plot his trajectory, I’d come to the conclusion Suicide Squirrel was a goner.

Here’s what was probably going on in Suicide Squirrel’s mind:

WHAT THE @#$! CAN’T STOP NOW THIS IS GONNA HURT TELL MONA I LOVE HER

Time, as we all know, is elastic during such moments. I’m sure Suicide Squirrel’s entire life flashed before his bulging little eyes.

The time he found the really huge acorn. The time he escaped from Red Fox. His first glimpse of Mona, who chattered snooty things at him from her branch across the way. The time he found the unbelievably huge acorn.

Instantly, my body knew what to do. My foot left the accelerator and my hands relaxed. In the next moment, the speeding varmint
was clear of the tires and I was driving normally again.

Varmints with bad ideas. What can you do? Good on you for the awesome moves, Suicide Squirrel.

I did not swerve. It happened so quickly Bob Johnson didn’t even notice. (Bob Johnson smells pretty good now that he’s been shampooed. Getting Bob Johnson to the vet is no problem. He loves the vet. Bob Johnson is a sociable dog, and the vet is a great place to network with all kinds of critters. Getting Bob Johnson to leave the vet is like trying to get a five-year-old to leave Disney World.)

Had I swerved, would I have hit the squirrel? I don’t know.

If I’d creamed the little psycho, it would have ruined my day.

Instead, I continued on my way with a clear conscience, free to pursue my inalienable right to pay someone else to give Bob
Johnson a bath.

I hope Suicide Squirrel (or Larry, as he’s known back at the nest) has learned an important lesson from his glimpse into the abyss.

Death doesn’t seem so glamorous now, does it, Larry?

Mona has already forgotten about last night. Trust me on this. Go to her, Larry. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Stand up and be a squirrel for once in your life!

On the way to the vet Bob Johnson and I passed the Cowboy Church. (It’s a church for cowboys. I’m pretty sure they welcome cowgirls, too, but I’m just guessing.)

The title of Sunday’s sermon was on the sign out by the highway: DON’T LET THE DEVIL STAMPEDE YOU.

“That’s good advice,” I told Bob Johnson. “That sounds like something out of a John Ford movie.”

Never let the devil stampede you. But if he puts a little spring in your step from time to time, well, that’s called fun, pardners, and even cowboys get to have fun. Amen.

I wondered if it was too late to go to Cowboy Seminary and load up on Cowboy Theology. I guess I was feeling pretty special because I hadn’t squashed Larry. Like, maybe I could become a cowboy preacher with a horse and everything.

In Fiji.

I would ride down to the ocean on my horse, Edward, and hold services on the beach. I would preach from the saddle and mention Edward frequently in my sermons. After the sermon, we would watch Stagecoach or Mutiny on the Bounty, with liberty and popcorn for all.

“This idea pleases me,” I told Bob Johnson. “Especially the part about having a horse named Edward.”

The logistics are daunting, of course. I will need a white western suit, such as Hank Williams wore, for the tropical weather. I will need to find a horse named Edward who is free to travel, which could take a while.

The Pacific Ocean is very wide. I’ve been at its edge a few times. It’s where you end up when you ride off into the sunset.
_____________________________________________

John Hicks will fix that after the surge.

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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