The fire had been going for about an hour when I noticed a small stick fall into the flames. I didn't really think too much about it. I went on with my cleaning when I hear this loud thud against the fireplace screen.
I looked down, right into a pair of beady black eyes.
This squirrel was jet black, and huge! He was almost the size of a cat, and surely up to no good!
To be honest, my first instinct was to ram the screen flush against the fireplace and force the thing back up the chimney or to a firey death. I am not very proud that I had that thought, but I didn't know how to easily catch the stupid varmint. Then I started picturing a blazing squirrel screaming its final breaths and decided I had to let the thing out.
It scurried up my bookshelf and then behind the couch.
I tried to herd it towards the door, but it started up the stairs. I chased it back down and then managed to prop open my side door. I tried again to herd the squirrel out, but rather than going down the stairs and out the door, the thing went into my kitchen and started running all over my countertop, climbing the cabinets, and dancing on the kitchen table just long enough to throw all the placemats on the floor! I looked for a broom, but all I could find was a Swiffer Sweeper to swing at the thing. It ran back into the living room and I opened the front door as well. At this point, I think I was yelling obscenities involving the squirrel committing lecherous acts with someone's mother. (Keep in mind that my doors are wide open for the neighbors to hear all of this.)
It suddenly dawned on me that I definitely did not want the thing on the second floor, particularly in my bedroom, so I ran upstairs and closed all the doors. By then the first floor was chilly, and I couldn't find Mr. Squirrel anywhere.
I turned off the stereo so that his claws on my hardwood floors would betray him, but I couldn't get him to come out of his hiding place, no matter how hard I stomped. I shut all of the outside doors and decided to "phone a friend" as apparently squirrel-herding is not my specialty. Luckily one of my buddies was just coming off shift. After much convincing that I wasn't making this crap up, he agreed to come over and help me chase the thing out. Being a typical guy, he kept asking me if I had a shotgun. By the time he had arrived, I had built a wall out of my ottoman and couch cushions to direct the squirrel in the right direction.
When my buddy arrived, he pointed out some tracks by my side door. As I hadn't actually seen the squirrel escape, I made him stay until we had searched under all of the heavy furniture and had given each room a brief once-over. After he got home, he called said something about seeing the trail of tracks lead from my door to the tree out front. I guess that should be somewhat reassuring, but I'm still planning on sleeping with the covers up tight by my neck tonight.
It could have gone much worse. I could have had a squirrel running around catching everything on fire. It is somewhat funny for this to happen this week when I'm just starting my rotation in the burn unit. Early this winter I had the chimney inspected. The guy was supposed to come back out and replace the chimney cap as he said that the kind that I have attracts squirrels. I guess he really knows what he's talking about. I also guess I won't be having any more fires going until that cap is replaced! I am sure it will be months before my buddy lets me live tonight down. Right now, I am anxiously waiting for the fire to finally die down so I can seal that damper up tight!