Squirrel Mafia
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It was a warm summer day in Cartersville. The sun glistened on the emerald leaves of the dogwood trees lining my yard. A warm breeze lifted, making the trees wave and sing their summer song. Next door, the neighbor was mowing his yard for the second time that week. I settled into my favorite patio chair, a thick book tucked into the crook of my arm. I opened the book and began to read, immediately becoming absorbed in the language of a story. Suddenly, violence broke the serenity of the day. I looked up, searching for the source of the commotion. My eyes were drawn into the top of an aging and twisted oak that grew mightily at the side of my yard. I didnít know it at the time, but I was watching the beginnings of the Squirrel Mafia, a gang of rodents that will strike fear into the hearts of rodents for generations to come.

As I watched, gangs of large squirrels scrambled down the trunk of the oak. A much larger squirrel led them; a squirrel I can only assume was the godfather. Suddenly a smaller squirrel climbed the tree and met with this vicious gang. I could see its small, brown body tremble with fear as the gang slowly approached him. Then all at once, the gang jumped on him and began beating the snot out of that little squirrel. They all tumbled en masse to the ground, where they continued to abuse the little squirrel. The godfather squirrel supervised the beating, his beady black eyes gleaming brutally. Then the gang removed themselves from the little squirrel and joined their godfather. The little squirrel staggered to his feet. The godfather made a loud chattering sound and all the squirrels, including the little squirrel, ran back up the tree. Ah, I thought, so this is the mafia initiation. The squirrel mafia initiated a few more squirrels into their gang, and after that the real mayhem began.

The squirrel hit man was the first to become identifiable. He was a lean, ragged-looking rodent, his tail short and droopy, his fur matted and patchy. He slunk from branch to branch, seeking his mark. Once in awhile he would disappear into a leafy branch. Birds would suddenly raise a racket, flying off in every direction. Then a blue jay would drop to the grass with a dull thud, and lay there stunned for several moments. Soon after the blue jay hit the ground, a nest would fall in wispy clumps followed by two or three eggs. The eggs splattered hideously as they landed around their helpless parent. Eventually the blue jay would get up, and let out a little birdie cry. Then it would be off, its home in tatters.

Meanwhile, the heaveys began to stalk the chipmunks and finches. They traveled in groups, and spent their time roaming across the yard and pouncing upon hapless chipmunks and small birds. They collected tribute from these animals, and sent smaller squirrels off towards the oak tree with their cheeks stuffed full of nuts and various other stuff.

The Squirrel Mafia had a gambling racket too. Acorns dropped from the oak tree, and a collection of chipmunks, birds and squirrels chattered and chirped as a pair of scrawny mice ran for them as fast as they could. The winning mouse would return to much celebration, while the looser was knocked to the ground from the top of the oak tree.

I can only imagine what the Squirrel Mafia has in store for the future. Surely the neighborhood will go bad. I expect to see strung out chipmunk and blue jay prostitutes turning tricks on my front lawn. Certainly thefts will become more frequent. There will be a day when I will come home to find all my candy stolen from the dishes and my husband's favorite mixed nuts heisted. Kidnapping will have to be dealt with. After all, whatís to stop the Squirrel Mafia from kidnapping my childrenís beanie babies and holding them for a kingís ransom in pistachios? What will I do when these conniving little rodents start flinging themselves at my windows in an attempt to vandalize my home? How worried should I be on the day I wake up to find a decapitated Eeyore head in my bed?

As the days pass, the Squirrel Mafiaís power grows. My yard will never be the same. There is no happy chatter between the birds. The chipmunks can no longer dig holes in the flowerbed without fear. Above it all, high in the oak tree, the Squirrel godfather reigns supreme.

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