Coffee and Rabies, Sheriffs and Squirrels

This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Idaho in 2017. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.

The coffee was lukewarm, but the waitress was on her way back to freshen it up. Idaho Sheriff Clint McGovern peeled back the second page of his newspaper to make sure she didn’t overfill it this time.

“Room for cream, Sheriff?” she asked.

“Now wait. Take a look at that cup, darling. Does that look like black coffee to you?” he asked.

“No. Looks like you dumped a whole truck full of cream in it last time,” she eagerly replied.

“Well, then. You just answered your own question, didn’t you?” Sheriff McGovern sarcastically laid on as thick as the cream he put in his coffee..

“How’s the wife?” the waitress innocently asked.

Contemplating if he wanted to get into the specifics of his broken, and now ended marriage as seen on page 9 of the local paper under the classified section, McGovern simply raised up his ringless finger and said, “Couldn’t be better.”

The joke was lost on the waitress, who simply smiled and moved on to the next cup of coffee sitting in front of a truck driver down the bar.

On the front page of the paper was the news everyone in the small town couldn’t stop talking about.

“Rabid Squirrel Attacks in Park”

Sheriff McGovern didn’t even read the article. He took the report. He responded to the scene. He knew who he was looking for. Wasn’t confident he was going to find him, but he knew.

Plus, he didn’t trust the media anyways.

“They’ll screw this one up,” he mumbled under his breath when he picked it up on his way into the diner.

The woman said a “rabid” squirrel attacked her and her child. First, the squirrel went after the child and then after the mother when she tried to intervene. Not much to screw up, but Sheriff McGovern was confident they would.

Most times when a squirrel attack was reported, Sheriff McGovern paid it no mind.

“You know how many squirrels are out there? And they all look alike!” he’d tell his wife when she asked why he didn’t even bother.

But based on the description, Sheriff McGovern knew who he was looking for.

You see, there aren’t too many one-eyed rabid squirrels in the small mountain town.

This particular assault could’ve only been one squirrel: Jesper Higgins.

Jesper had a rough life. A life of crime and violence. You don’t live a life like that and still have both eyes.

Jesper lost one eye fighting another squirrel to win the favor of a special lady. He lost. Not just his eye, but his woman.

So he turned to the bottle. Then to the hard drugs. One night he shared one of his needles with a bat doing heroin. Rabies came next.

Jesper supported his black tar habit by burglarizing other squirrel dens of acorns and precious milk jug lids (squirrels love plastic milk jug lids). Sure, he got arrested multiple times, but you know the system. Overcrowded squirrel jails have no room for petty squirrel thieves and junkies.

Jesper knew it and Sheriff McGovern despised it.

Quickly back out on the street, Jeper finally crossed paths with the wrong marmot and ended up doing serious time in the clink for “Gopherslaughter” while defending himself in a bar fight. It wasn’t murder, but Jesper did 7 years (which is only like 2 weeks in squirrel years), and got help while inside. He got proper treatment for his rabies. He got clean and came out refreshed and ready for a new life.

Jesper even fell in love with one of the squirrel prison guards. A pretty squirrel named Marci Bellatone. Marci was divorced and already had 12 litters from 11 different squirrels, but she cleaned up her act too and wanted nothing more than to start a new life with her new man, Jesper.

Things were going good for a while. Jesper found a job working in the nut factory and Marci quit her job at the prison for a job at a salon closer to home.

But one day Jesper got invited out to the chestnut bar by his buddies at the nut factory.

“Hey slick,” Jesper said to his best friend at the factory, Kevin Huffinfiggen. “We’re heading out to grab some chestnuts. You want to come?”

“No, man. But thanks. I gotta get home and move acorns from one side of my living to another four times,” Kevin replied.

“Important work there, man. You need any help?” Jesper offered.

“I’m good. Thanks.” Kevin said, a bit apprehensively.

Jesper let Marci know he’d be a little late and this is where things took a turn for the worse.

Things were going great at The ‘Munk, the local pub next to the the nut factory. Drinks and laughs were flowing, good times were being had by all. Even the arrival of a barn swallow couldn’t keep the nut factory boys from having a good time. They hated barn swallows, but they loved getting squirrel drunk more.

But Jesper had a few too many and too fast. He began to feel a bit under the weather and told his buddies he was heading home.

“Damn,” he said looking at his moped. “I can’t drive that home.”

It was a good call because Jesper was beginning to wonder why he now had two mopeds.

“Better walk,” he decided.

As stumbled up to his treehouse door, he tried the knob. It was locked.

“Weird,” he thought to himself.

He pulled out his keys. Fumbled with them before they dropped. As he bent down to pick them up, Jesper heard panicked mumbling and scattering about from inside. He found his key and frantically opened the door just as a naked Kevin Huffinfiggen, his best friend from the nut factory, was trying to escape through the back window.

Marci, still in bed with the sheets covering her up, pleaded with Jesper.

“Jesper! It’s not what you think!” she yelled in desperation.

Jesper rubbed his eye, and even lifted up the eye patch on his bad eye, purely out of instinct, to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.

Marci was caught. Kevin was almost out the window, but his fluffy tail was stuck on the curtain rod.

“Jesper, take it easy, man,” Kevin begged. “It just kinda happened.”

Jesper’s blood began to boil as he walked across the room with the same intensity of Jason Vorhees stalking a naive camp counselor who should’ve been gone the moment she saw her fate heaving in a hockey mask armed with a machete.

Jesper grabbed an acorn on the dining room table and smashed it on the corner without missing a step. The shell fell to the ground with the exception of one small, bulky piece. The force of the Jesper’s smash turned the shell into Kevin’s blunt and sudden execution.

But just as Jesper raised the shell, the curtain rod gave way and Kevin fell out of the window to a branch just outside the home. He scattered away. Naked. Jumping from limb to limb. Wire to wire. As he made it to the grass below, he looked back.

Jesper was still standing in the window. His adreniline pumping and blood flowing from his hand.

Jesper raised the shell and casually tossed it below.

“How could you do this to me, Kevin!” He screamed in agony. “We were best friends!”

Kevin scampered off, tail a little lower to the ground.

Jesper’s world was crushed. Again.

“I’m sorry, baby,” Marci managed to muster up through a face full of tears. “I didn’t want you to find out this way.”

Jesper stands motionless. He picked up one foot and consciously had to think about picking up the other one. Again and again as he made his way across the room. One thing he didn’t have to think about was the bottle macadamia nut rum sitting on top of the fridge.

With his head low and his tail lower, Jesper mindlessly walked across the hardwood floor, grabbed the bottle just as he had grabbed the acorn that he planned to murder his best friend with, this time with the same passion, but less intensity.

“Jesper, wait. No. Don’t go,” Marci whimpered, still sitting shocked in bed with nothing but a white blanket. But that’s all she could say. There was nothing else to say. It was over and she knew it.

Jesper dragged his feet out the door gently closed it behind him. His tail was caught, but only for a moment as it bounced off the heavy oak door. Marci could only breakdown, wondering how she ruined another relationship. How could she do this again, especially to such a good squirrel like Jesper?

Now walking the streets of Moscow  on a Wednesday afternoon with a half-empty bottle of macadamia nut rum, the other half in his stomach, Jesper started to feel a rage inside him he hadn’t felt in years. A rage that laid dormant since he went away to squirrel prison and got clean.

The macadamia nut rum took its toll and began to mix with his rabies medication. Jesper knew he wasn’t suppose to drink heavily while taking it, but he knew of no other way to numb the pain of a broken heart.

As he passed the park, he stopped. He turned toward the women and children playing and the rage continues to build, like pressure from a volcano. The foam began to flow out of his mouth. The transformation was happening.

“Hey you okay,” Jesper heard coming from the ground.

“Who’s there?” he snapped.

An earthworm wearing a red bandana appeared from a small hole.

“I said are you okay? You don’t look too good,” the worm said – more as a statement than an actual expression of concern.

“No. I’m not. I just caught my best friend and my wife in bed. I almost killed him. I.. I… almost killed him. My life is over,” Jesper said with a blank stare.

“Nah, it’s not over,” the earthworm replied with a smirk. “I got just the thing for you.”

The earthworm pulled out a bag. Jesper had seen it before. Cocaine.

“I’ve never done that. I’ve done just about everything else, but not that,” Jesper said with a trace of hesitancy.

“Well it sounds like the right time, my friend,” applying more pressure.

Left with only one eye, rabies and recovering from a nasty smack habit, Jesper assessed his life. No more friends, no more wife. He knew he couldn’t go back to the job. Not after this.

So with the courage of a broken squirrel, and half a thimble of macadamia nut rum in his system, Jesper snatched the bag of coke from the earthworm, ripped it open and laid it out. Line by line he snorted it up his little nostrils until it was all gone.

“What is this? What’s happening to me,” Jesper asked as the panic set in.

“What do you mean? You just snorted like 50 milligrams of bath salts! I got them from the dumpster behind the Bed, Bath and Beyond,” the earthworm shouted. Or at least it sounded like a shout to Jesper.

Raging on a broken heart and a load of bathsalts (10 mg is a TON for a squirrel), Jesper’s vision began to turn sour. Even with only one eye.

“You’re a bad worm!” he whispered.

Just then, Jesper heard a laugh. A laugh of joy. The laugh of a child having a great time in the park.

He didn’t even think about it. He raced toward the child, mouth foaming, eye red with fury, and attacked.

Screaming for help, the child’s mother raced to rescue him. Just as Jesper was about to sink his teeth into the kid’s ankle, he felt a hand swiftly scoop him off and went flying across the park to the monkey bars.

The force knocked some sense into him, but the rabies and bath salts had already taken their hold. Jesper turned back and hissed at the shocked mother and child before fleeing the scene.

Sheriff McGovern was called, but Jesper was never found. McGovern says he’s still on the lookout for him, but so far, Jesper remains on the loose.

There were no pictures taken that day, not that Sheriff McGovern needed one, but he had an artist rendering commissioned just to put the public’s mind at ease.

rabid squirrel

Many reports came in from people claiming they’d seen Jesper, but most were unreliable and Sheriff McGovern lacked the motivation to care.

“I’m hoping Jesper gets back on the right track. I’m hoping,” Sheriff McGovern thought while taking a sip of his newly poured cup of creamed coffee. “I’m hoping they don’t find him face down in a gutter with a needle in his arm. He fixed himself up once, he can do it again.”

As he listened to the background noise from the other diners all talking about the “dangerous monster of a squirrel,” McGovern sat stoic, reading about how the town’s minor league baseball team blew a 4-0 lead in the 9th.

McGovern knows Jesper has to pay for the assault on the mother and child, but with the right frame of mind and the right support system in place, Jesper has already proven he can overcome his demons, and that’s what drives McGovern to find Jesper. Justice, but not punishment.

McGovern finished his coffee, grabbed his cowboy hat sitting on the chair next to him and as he placed it in just the right spot on his head, he stood up, dropped a $1.34 on the table for a tip (generous for the service, he thought), adjusted his eye patch and walked toward the door.

Sitting in the booth was a tiny little squirrel wearing pulled down a baseball cap and sunglasses, avoiding the same article as Sheriff McGovern.

McGovern looked at the disheveled squirrel and the squirrel glanced back. McGovern stopped for a moment, the squirrel lowering his head hoping not to be recognized. McGovern stared, took a deep breath and said, “Sir,” while tipping his cap.

“Sheriff,” the squirrel threw back.

The bell to the diner door chimed as McGovern walked out. There would be no arrest today. Only healing.

 

 

 

 

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