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Copyright by Pegg Thomas 2009-2015

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Jul 6, 2010
Clarence slunk along the side of his house, each foot placed carefully. Balancing himself with palms against the wall, he paused and looked over his shoulder. Erma B. Krantz stood at her dining room window, nose inches from the glass. That old busybody probably had one hand on the phone already. He inched closer to the corner of his house, belly pressed against the aluminum siding. Holding his breath, he leaned over and peered into the backyard, hoping to find it strewn with dead bodies.

Nothing. He flung a disgusted look back at Erma B. and ignored her smile of smug satisfaction. Clarence examined his latest fool-proof trap. How had they managed to get around it this time? The bird feeder clung to its post at a drunken angle. He ran a hand across the grass below. Not a hair or a drop of blood. Stomping into the house, he slammed the back door.

The entire morning was a bust. Charlie didn’t show up for breakfast. Earl did, complaining about his bursitis the whole time. And Betty burned his toast again today. He sank into his thread bare chair and scratched the three day stubble on his gray chin. He shouldn’t have told them about this new trap. Dagnabbit. For sure tomorrow they’d ask him about it.

Clarence’s chair sat facing the picture window with a clear view of the mangled bird feeder. Lydia’s empty chair sat next to him. Many hours of enjoyment they had shared, seated here, watching the birds. He still thought of them as Lydia’s birds. Those last months the birds had been her sanctuary, her resting place away from the needles and the chemicals.

The squirrels moved in a month after Lydia died. At first it was just one, occasionally a pair, but soon they began to overrun the place. Clarence suspected Erma B. of enticing them into the neighborhood. It would be just like her, contrary old woman. Clarence tapped his cold pipe against the ashtray and reached for his tobacco pouch. His hands worked preparing his pipe while his mind chewed on the issue of the squirrels and the remnants of his trap swayed in the breeze under the lopsided feeder.

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