James Hayman: Once upon a time, not very long ago, in a kingdom by the sea known as Maine, there lived a beautiful artist and her slightly corpulent (but nonetheless swell-looking) husband, who was a writer. Together the two made a modest but adequate living. She by turning out lovely works of art. He by killing people–usually attractive young women–in brutal, nasty and hopefully inventive ways.
As our tale begins, the beautiful artist and the slightly corpulent (but nonetheless swell-looking) writer were happy. They had recently moved into what seemed to them the perfect cottage. Especially perfect because it boasted a bright sun-filled back room with glass doors and broad windows that looked out upon a lovely greensward which rolled down to a small body of water known throughout the kingdom as Back Cove.
In the evenings, the two would sit, looking out at the view, he slugging back goblets of blood-red wine, she daintily sipping hundred proof vodka. Beyond the windows, birds twittered in hundred year old trees. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower in the couple’s newly dug and planted garden. Waves rippled gaily across the waters of the cove.
Life seemed idyllic. In fact, a veritable Eden. And, children, as we all know, where there is an Eden, there is inevitably a serpent. Or serpents. Or, more accurately in this case, an evil gang of gray bushy tailed beasts.
In the beginning the couple ignored the beasts. And the beats ignored them.
But then the beautiful artist decided that she so loved the birds that she wanted to invite them to feast on seed closer to the cottage so she could gaze ever more closely at them. She found a merchant of hardware on a street named in memory of the famous Saint John. There she purchased for a handful of dollars (ducats no longer being legal tender) half a dozen cylinders to hang by her windows and giant sacks of seed with which to fill them..
At first all was well. Bird-Word went far and wide. “Free Eats @Hayman”, birds twittered in less than 140 characters. And soon hungry visitors were coming in great numbers from far and wide to feast upon the seed. This delighted the beautiful artist.
Not far behind came the bushy tailed beasts. They called themselves “Squirrels”.
Suddenly, they were everywhere! Climbing on the feeding cylinders. Climbing on the outdoor furniture. Hanging from the screens by their rear leg claws while holding on to the feeders with their front. Even urinating on windows. And leaving much of what had been Eden a smelly, filthy mess.
This bothered the beautiful artist (Actually a lot more than it did the swell looking writer.) In fact, as the beasts cracked birdseed, the writer, as was his wont in times of trouble, cracked jokes. The beautiful artist didn’t laugh. In fact, she found herself irritated to the point of throwing her glass slippers at the beasts and crying “Be Gone!”.
In return they simply chortled, “Heh-heh-heh”
“Your Wordship,” she finally cried in desperation (This was how swell looking writers were generally addressed in those days) “Your Wordship, I am desperate. We must rid ourselves of these beastly intruders.”
The two of them tried all they could think of. First they sat guard, water hoses at the ready, to squirt the invaders. However the bushy-tailed beasts soon realized the two could only sit guard for so long. The swell-looking writer also purchased a sling-shot similar to the one Kind David had used to bring down the giant. But in spite of his long experience at whacking fictional people, he proved less talented at whacking real life bushy-tailed beasts.
Pouring vats of boiling oil from the battlements of the cottage was considered. This would have instantly turned the bushy-tailed beasts into Crispy Critters. But the cottage lacked battlements and so proved impossible to implement. Besides, what would an artist and a writer do with all those deceased Crispy Critters?
Finally, the beautiful but now frustrated artist made her way to the famed wizard known as The Apple Who Sits Upon the Lap and through him consulted the Source of All Wisdom, the Sourcerer Google. This great magician knew all. In fact he usually knew too much. Way too much. He offered the artist and the writer 119,121 possible solutions to their problem. He told them they must begin a quest to find the one true answer.
Among the solutions were many ingenious ones. For example, they were told to mount long aluminum tubes beneath the cylinders. It was said the bushy-tailed beasts would enter the tubes, strike their heads upon the bottoms of the cylinders, and retreat in disarray. The beautiful artist and swell-looking writer looked at each other, simultaneously shook their heads and muttered “Nah.”
Another possible solution suggested by a cottage owner in Illinois was what was called the “Slinky Surprise.” Attach, it was said, one end of a Slinky toy to the top of the feeding pole. Let the remainder hang down. Bushy-tailed beasts who tried leaping upon the pole would grab the Slinky and promptly find themselves flung to the ground. Once again our heroes said, “Nah.”
Finally, both the beautiful artist and the swell looking writer found a possible answer. It was a magic potion known to some of the peasants as Vaseline. To others as Petroleum Jelly.
They purchased a large vat of the stuff and, as instructed, hung their feeding tubes from poles. They then slathered the poles with handfuls of the greasy concoction.
The bushy-tailed beasts arrived. Soon the beautiful artist and the swell looking writer were sitting back and laughing their asses off as one bushy tailed beast after another slid ignominiously to the ground, shouting “Curses! Foiled Again!”.
A film of this activity was made in which you, dear reader, may watch this triumph for yourselves. Simply go to:
And what of the artist, the writer and the now overfed birds? Naturally, they all lived happily ever after. The bushy tailed beasts not so much.