by Dave Early
I crouched down, one knee pressed into the grass… crushing the blades beneath it. Edging my hand up my thigh, the unshelled peanut held firmly between the tips of my fingers. The grey fur-ball sneaked toward me, dancing left and right before placing its delicate paws tenderly against the denim of my jeans. Slowly it crawled along my leg as I kept the prize slightly out of reach… until it was perched on my lap, reaching up, a claw on either side of my wrist, holding it steadily.
Other squirrels scampered over to inspect the scene. The great Dolittle entertaining the crowds. Passers-by gasped and cooed… pointed and emptied their film. Small children tugged hurriedly on the hems of their mothers’ coats.
Look. Look at that man. See how he commands nature!
Then out the corner of my eye I saw her coming… the old woman with her shopping bag, hurling monkey nuts into the air. The old woman who refused to stick to her patch. The old woman who didn’t play by the rules. Her disguise was admirable. Sweet. Helpless. Let her have her fun, the poor dear, they would say… It’s probably all she has to look forward to of a day.
But she didn’t fool me. I could see the mischievous glint in her eye… the spiteful intentions… She was the Wicked Witch of the West. Eve incarnate. Trying to tempt away my children… to destroy my station. And she was getting nearer.
Here little ones.
The show was over. The passers-by passed by. No more photographs. No more incredulous smiles. No more weighted warmth on my person. And no more scratches on my flesh.
How could they desert me like that? They were there to entertain me. To adore me…
You have to earn your prize, I called. Nothing’s free in this world. You ungrateful little bastards. I own you. You belong to me. My love for you is greater than hers.
Whatever the day. Whatever the time. That old witch was there to torment me.
But one day. One day. She’ll be gone.
Dave Early cannot be summed up in one sentence; one word perhaps, but not one sentence.