In the middle of my parents' backyard is a 10-foot pole with a cute little birdhouse attached to the top of it. My dad is extremely diligent about keeping the open-air house filled with food, so that the local doves, jays and finches all have full bellies. But watch out when a fluffy-tailed rodent gets in the birdhouse. Then Mr. Hetherington becomes Squirrel Super-Soaker, a close cousin of Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack.
When my dad retired, his boss made jokes about how he would now have more time to sit in the backyard and shoot the squirrels with his squirt gun. Everyone knows about his methods.
At 4 a.m. Monday morning, Mr. Wonderful further confirmed that he and my father are cut from the same cloth.
We were sound asleep, when suddenly a series of noises erupted on the roof above our heads. Thud. Brrrrrr. Thud. Brrrrr. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Mr. W sprang out of bed and put on shorts and a t-shirt. I followed him out the back door into the moonlit yard. As I scaled the short wall of the lowest terrace and stood to face the rooftop, a raccoon slowly appeared, standing on his hind legs to face me. We were like two meerkats popping up to look at one another.
In the peach tree over Mr. W's room, another raccoon peeked out from the branches. The two buddies had a system going: one would knock fruit off the tree and the other would run around the roof to catch them.
I watched, slightly scared that one might come racing toward me and wrap itself around my head, when to my left an arc of water shot out and hit the one in the tree. Mr. W had turned into Raccoon Rainmaster. He sprayed for awhile as the furry little guys yelled raccoon obscenities at him. They were stubborn and didn't want to leave, so finally I went back inside.
Mr. W returned about 10 minutes later, sighing and tired from his early-morning workout. I wanted to laugh at him, but he had gotten the job done so we could go back to sleep—and that was actually pretty commendable.
I have to wonder, though, if maybe next time he and my father are together, they'll be trading sharpshooting tactics...