BUBBA

You’ve all seen this scene in old comedies: One of the characters asks a question. He is given a completely unexpected and/or ridiculous answer. He accepts the answer very matter-of-factually, then a split second later screams: “Wait! WHAT?!?”

This scene happens all the time in our house, with one small difference. We leave out the screamed “Wait! WHAT?!?” We just simply accept the answer matter-of-factually, and go on about our business.

That explains why, when I asked about the holes in the ceiling of our girls bedroom and was told that they were where “the squirrel” had scratched through the ceiling, I didn’t ask any follow-up questions. Having a squirrel living in our ceiling is certainly not the strangest thing to ever happen around our house.

However, within a few weeks of learning about our newest inmate, I had come to the conclusion that (while not being the strangest thing to ever happen at our house by any stretch of the imagination) “Bubba” was perhaps the most annoying thing to happen at our house in quite a while.

I wouldn’t have minded Bubba so much, if he would only have done his scratching during the day when I wasn’t at home. But he seemed determined to only dig through our ceiling while I was trying to get to sleep at night, or early on those mornings when I wanted to sleep in. In fact, the only reason I named Bubba was so that I could scream something more personal than just “squirrel!” at the ceiling when he acted up.

And I did plenty of screaming at that ceiling over the next few weeks. I accompanied much of my screaming with beating on the area of the ceiling the scratching was coming from with a broom. The general effect of this assault on the ceiling was that the scratching would stop for roughly three seconds before starting up again. Thank goodness no one ever thought to film those incidents. I can just imagine how I looked:

“BUBBA! SHUT UP!!” (several slams of broom to ceiling, resulting in a shower of white powder [our ceiling is (was) “popcorned”]. Silence for a few breaths, as I stand, glaring up at the ceiling, broom poised and ready to attack again at the slightest scratch. “scratttccchhh… scratch?”) “BUBBBBBAAAAAA!!!” (“SLAM, WHACK, THUNK,” another shower of white powder…). And so on, and so forth.

As I said, this went on for a few weeks. Then Bubba decided to move. To the living room ceiling. (I could have told him that was a bad idea, but he didn’t consult me before making the move). Why such a bad idea? Well… let’s put it this way. Dad never comes into the girls room. However, he does spend a considerable amount of time in the living room.

Now, during these few weeks, some attempts were being made to catch Bubba. Mom had rat traps set up outside the hole where he had gotten into the ceiling, and rat poison scattered around the same area, but, so far, without any luck.

Dad put up with Bubba for a few days with nothing more than some comments and questions about what measures were being taken to assassinate the annoying little bugger.

But after those few days dad’s patience began to wear thin, and one evening after more noise than usual from Bubba, he snapped. After climbing on some of the furniture and beating on the ceiling, with about the same results that I had, he switched to a different tactic. He left the room and a moment later returned with his shotgun, loaded with birdshot. Most of us, knowing how loud a shotgun is, simply plugged our ears and started backing away. Ben, who had watched the proceedings silently up until now, spoke up.

“What are you doing?” (Yes, it was a rhetorical question…). Ben wouldn’t have interfered, anymore than the rest of us did, except for the fact that Ben is (unwillingly) the family “handy-man.” HE knew who would be fixing that ceiling if he let dad continue with this new extermination method.

“It’s just birdshot.” Dad replied “You think it will go all the way through? There’s the sheetrock, then 8 inches of insulation before the tin. I don’t think it’ll go all the way through.”

Ben thought it would go all the way through. He expressed this opinion strongly enough that he was able to convince dad not to use the shotgun.

Shortly before, dad had acquired a Mosin Nagant rifle at a gun show. This rifle came with a bayonet, and for that reason it was the next firearm dragged out. Really getting into the spirit of things, dad set up a stepladder and continued the hunt. Two holes in the ceiling later, a stethoscope was added to the arsenal. The battle raged for about twenty minutes longer, but the squirrel ended up victor of the evening. Bubba was wise enough, after having a bayonet strike dangerously close to him several times, to stop scratching and turn in for the evening. In fact, he calmed down a good bit after that evening, and dad didn’t drag out the bayonet again, much to Ben’s relief.

We lived with Bubba for a few months longer, but he grew careless in his old age and was sighted several times outside the entrance to his home. He avoided many of the pot shots taken at him with the pellet gun, but eventually (with the help of a little lead) he met his long-overdue demise, leaving us with only the holes in our ceiling to remember him by.

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