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Squirrels or no squirrels

Story ID:7394
Written by:Julie Grassley (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Park Ohio USA
Year:1987
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Squirrels or no squirrels

Tom and Arnold were always betting. You name it, they bet on it. Usually Tom won and Arnold was getting sick of it but he couldn’t help himself. He kept thinking he was bound to win the next one, he was due for a win but the universe didn’t seem to agree with him. Lately he had just been avoiding Tom, it was easier that way.
To make matters worse Tom just started dating a woman that he had wanted to ask out but never had the guts to. Since Tom worked with him at Humongous Ostrich avoiding him was challenging. He volunteered to take the first lunch break so he wouldn’t be in the break room with Tom.
After work Tom decided to go for a walk in the park. It was a beautiful evening and he decided to take the trail towards the falls. He was really feeling happy until he ran into Tom and his girlfriend. “Hey Arnold, what’s going on? I didn’t see you at work today.”
“Well, working hard ya know. Hi Bessie.” said Arnold
“Hi Arnold, what’s going on?’ said Bessie
“Just enjoying this nice sunset.” said Arnold
“You didn’t want to share the evening with anyone?’” said Tom with a smirk
“That’s not nice Tom.” said Bessie
“It’s no problem Bessie I enjoy walking by myself, I see more wildlife that way.” said Arnold
“Really? What wildlife would that be Arnold?” laughed Tom
“Well, the little, unappreciated creatures, like squirrels and chipmunks.” said Arnold
“You don’t say, squirrels and chipmunks. I find that hard to believe Arnold since there are no squirrels in this park.” said Tom
“Wanna bet?” asked Arnold
He couldn’t believe he was betting this idiot. Damn him!!
“Yes, I would gladly take that bet Arnold. How much shall we wager? How about $1000.00?” asked Tom
“Tom, that’s a lot of money, it is too much between friends” said Bessie
“No Bessie, $1000.00 is no problem, we bet all the time.” said Arnold
“You mean you LOSE all the time Arnold. Haha! Well, if you want to back out you can there buddy, I hate to call you a liar but there hasn’t been a squirrel in this park for over 10 years. Some toxin in the lake killed them all off and they haven’t returned since.” said Tom
“Well call the papers because I just saw some.” said Arnold
“Fine, fine it is possible that they have returned. Let’s say that if the park verifies this within the next week, you win, if not I win.” said Tom
“Sounds good to me.” said Arnold
“You guys really shouldn’t bet. Money between friends never works.” said Bessie
“Well, we’ll see you later Arnold, I’m gonna take my lady to dinner. Enjoy interacting with little wildlife.” snickered Tom
“Goodbye Bessie.” said Arnold
Arnold could NOT believe he got himself into this mess! He was nervous around Bessie and he didn’t want to sound like he was a loner and a loser, just a nature lover. He thought that would come across as a little interesting. Now he would owe Tom a grand! He didn’t have that kind of money, the most that they had ever bet was 100 bucks.
Once again he was the loser like Tom said and this time Bessie got to witness it. A loser and a liar in her eyes. Squirrels, chipmunks, whatever they were all the same to him. He saw some small rodent along his walk.
Arnold returned home even more depressed than usual.
“What’s up?” asked his roommate Doug
“I’m an idiot.” said Arnold
“Nothing new then?” laughed Doug
“No, seriously, what’s going on?’ asked Doug
“I bet Tom again.” said Arnold
“Dude! What about this time?’ said Doug
“Squirrels.” said Arnold
“Hahaha, really? What the hell? You guys will bet over ANYTHING!!” How much this time?” said Doug
“$1000.00.” said Arnold
“What??? You ARE an idiot! Plus you owe me money, what were you thinking? And over a frickin’ rodent?” said Doug
“Bessie was with him.” said Arnold
“Trying to impress a girl screws you up every time. I’ve tried to tell you that man.” said Doug
“Says Mr. Hefner.” said Arnold
“Hey, I don’t have a girlfriend but I’m not a grand in the hole because of a woman either. Why are you so sure you’re gonna lose, aside from the fact that you always do?” said Doug
Arnold sighed and then told Doug about the toxin in the lake.
“Where have you been living, you don’t remember all that in the news?” said Doug
“That was 10 years ago!” said Arnold
“Well, I have a week to come up with a 1,000 bucks.” said Arnold
“Why a week?” asked Doug
“I told them I saw a squirrel, so Tom is giving me a week for the park to officially announce the squirrels are back.” said Arnold
“A week? Just bring some squirrels to the park.” said Doug
“Yeah, no problem, where’s the squirrel store?” laughed Arnold
“Seriously, let’s buy some nuts and go squirrel hunting. You can’t lose to him AGAIN and you owe me money too. We’ll be sitting pretty with 1,000 bucks.” said Doug
“For real Doug?” asked Arnold
“What else do we have going on?” said Doug
Arnold smiled, it would feel really good to win big money from Tom.
“Ok, where can we get some squirrels?” asked Arnold
“Patterson Park, I got my old dog cage, let’s round ’em up!” said Doug
Arnold and Doug picked up some walnuts and drove to Patterson Park. They carried the dog cage down a trail and walked until they saw a squirrel.
“There’s a big one, probably the king squirrel.” said Doug
“Looks pretty big.” said Arnold
Arnold sat very still and held a handful of walnuts in his outstretched hand. The big squirrel slowly worked its way down towards his hand. The squirrel grabbed a nut and Arnold scooped it up in his hand. Just as he was moving the squirrel toward the cage it wriggled free and in the process scratched up his face.
“Jesus man, you’re a bloody mess!” said Doug
“Shit!” said Arnold
“Well that worked out!” said Arnold
“Listen, my uncle has some raccoon traps, we can borrow those and just transport them to our park after they’re trapped.” said Doug
“That sounds better, why the hell didn’t you mention that BEFORE I turned into Freddie Krueger” asked Arnold
“I thought it would be fun.” answered Doug
“I’ll pick up the cages tonight and we can set them tomorrow.” said Doug
“Fine, I need a beer.” said Arnold
Arnold and Doug stopped at a bar on the way home. Arnold drank more than he should’ve and he was feeling hungover at work the next day.
He took his lunch break early again so he could avoid Tom. He felt like shit and just wanted to eat and take a quick nap. Three of his coworkers were sitting in the break room when he entered. He grabbed his lunch out of the fridge and sat down.
“What the hell happened to your face?” asked one of his coworkers
“Oh, just a little rough housing with my girlfriend.” replied Arnold
“Those are really tiny scratches.” said his coworker
“Well, she’s really petite.” said Arnold
“A petite rodent?” asked Tom
Arnold hadn’t noticed him walk in.
“I guess you’re just jealous that I have a real wild girlfriend.” answered Arnold
“I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.” said Tom
“Well, we just met, and I’ve had a wild night so if you don’t mind I’m going to take a nap.” said Arnold
“How about a double date? I’d love to meet her.” said Tom
“Sure, one of these nights we’ll hook up.” said Arnold
“No, let’s say this Saturday, my treat. How can you possibly turn that down?” asked Tom with a smirk
Arnold knew if he turned Tom down it would look bad.
“Sure, now I’m taking a nap.” said Arnold
Arnold made it through the rest of the day and dragged himself home.
“I think your scratches are getting infected.” said Doug
“Probably, I’m taking a nap, I got myself into more shit with Tom and I’m really hungover.” said Arnold
“Well, you can’t take a nap, we have to set those traps tonight. We don’t have much time to get the squirrels established in the park. And what possible shit did you get into with Tom?” asked Doug
“I told him the scratches are from my wild girlfriend and we have a double date with him on Saturday.” answered Arnold
“If I set you up with my cousin I want half the money, between that and the cages I think I deserve it.” said Doug
“Fine, what makes you think your cousin will do this?” asked Arnold
“She owes me.” said Doug
Arnold and Doug set the traps and then they stopped over Doug’s cousin’s house.
“Arnold this is Mickey” said Doug
“Hi Arnold, nice to meet you.” said Mickey
“Same here.” said Arnold
Arnold explained his predicament and Mickey agreed to play his wild girlfriend.
Arnold and Doug went home and Arnold crashed. He awoke feeling hopeful.
Arnold and Doug drove to Patterson Park to check their traps. They trapped nine squirrels. They packed them into the car and drove them to their park.
They walked them down a trail and released them.
On Saturday evening Arnold picked up Mickey and drove into town. “Are you nervous?” he asked Mickey
“No, I’m excited, it seems like it’ll be a fun night.” answered Mickey
They walked into the restaurant and Arnold spotted Tom right away. Introductions were made and they ordered drinks and appetizers. Everything was going well until Tom leaned over and whispered to Mickey, “So how did Arnold get those nasty scratches on his face?”
Mickey whispered back “Well, during fairplay we pretend Arnold is a dragon and I’m a dame in distress and I push him off of me.”
“Fairplay, don’t you mean foreplay? Arnold, maybe you should’ve rehearsed a bit more.” said Tom
“No, my darling calls it fairplay because we keep it fun.” replied Arnold as he squeezed Mickey’s hand
The evening continued with dinner, more drinks and some dancing. Arnold was really having fun and he was hoping that Mickey was too.
On the ride home Mickey thanked him for not making her look stupid for saying fairplay. She was nervous and caught off guard when Tom asked her about the scratches. Arnold told her that he had a nice time and Mickey said that she did too.
“Good luck on your squirrel bet.” said Mickey
“Thanks, good night.” said Arnold
Arnold was awoken the next morning by Doug shaking him.
“Arnold, we did it!!!!” yelled Doug
“Did what?” asked Arnold
Doug threw the morning paper on his bed. “We reintroduced squirrels to our park!!”
Arnold glanced over the article. Squirrels have established residency in Circle Park, the toxins have been cleaned up and a recent squirrel birth has confirmed that they are officially back.
“I knew that squirrel was pregnant, all chubby and bitchy.” said Doug
“I believe you called HIM the king squirrel.” said Arnold
“Aren’t you excited? We won the bet with Tom!!” asked Doug
“Yes that makes me happy, also I had a great time with Mickey.” said Arnold
“Whatever, let’s go visit Tom and then get some beers.” said Doug
“Sounds good.” said Arnold with a big smile on his face.