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Melody didn’t walk to Bennett Rest and back home simply for the exercise, though there was plenty in this hilly neighborhood. She didn’t make her way to this verdant space with ten benches to talk doggie with and scratch behind the ears of a Boxer and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, though these activities always made her grin foolishly. She didn’t amble to this spot to obtain chatter from Social Security recipients, though she did periodically pop open a notepad to record for stories yet to be written.
Melody chose this destination for heads and tails. The Boxer sported a noble head, angular but for jowls, and strong. His docked tail appeared elegant from many perspectives. A fortyish jogger, pausing at a nearby bench to wipe his sopping brow and slurp water, had tousled silver hair that glinted in the sun, as well as a very fine rear end.
Most hetero women of a certain age would especially appreciate this last activity. It was all part of the game. She didn’t know who played it — maybe that short guy with a camera on the bench to her right? Or the droopy lady with two wrinkled shopping bags who just plopped down on another bench?
She was starting to feel her usual itchy-antsy anxiety combo when the first one appeared. Burnished deep red; darting eyes; jumpy to jumping onto and off one seat and then on and off another, causing Shopping Bag Woman to shriek.
Melody laughed and clapped her hands. She pulled a folded paper napkin from her left pants pocket and carefully opened it. The American red squirrel hopped over to inspect chopped peanuts. Now Melody had it!
Nope. The squirrel managed to snare three pieces. Melody hadn’t been fast enough. She saw it now, dense tail disappearing into foliage. No point in chiding herself. She needed to be as alert as her fellow and sister rodents.
In less than a minute, two black squirrels with sparse tails flew down a decades-old tree and scurried over to inspect pickings. She wasn’t sure she should bother with these supposed genetic mutations, but rushed towards them anyway. They avoided her with the usual jet-fast squirrel scamper. Melody tsk-tsked. Thwarted again.
Two days later she was back in her apartment with her bounty. From an extra-large shopping bag she removed three American red and two black squirrels, all seemingly asleep. Melody placed them on her long kitchen counter. She smiled broadly, nearly giddy with success. Peanuts dipped in chloroform made from acetone and bleach helped her capture these prizes. Squirrel heads and tails made a flavorsome stew.