At Louisa's Café, back by the bathroom where the pigeons usually come in, there was a squirrel. The cook knows this squirrel. Its name is Loretta. Loretta was hovering around the doorway, shifting in those squirrel instants from just outside to just inside, back again. Left, twitch a bit. Right.
Over small distances squirrels move instantly. Something to do with quantum physics—they're here, then six inches to the right without ever passing through the space in between.
Over longer distances they move in waves, their tails half a wavelength behind them.
I waved to Loretta and went into the bathroom. When I came back out, the squirrel was still there, this time along with a pigeon. The squirrel shifted left, right, forward, blink-blink-blink, that quantum teleportation thing.
The pigeon walked, one foot in front of the other, pigeon-toed, head going forward and back with each pigeon step, saying to itself, "Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh."
They had a plan of some kind. Raiding the kitchen for baked goods. Loretta whispered to the pigeon, "We'll split everything. You can have the sesame seeds, the poppy seeds. I get all the nuts—pecans, walnuts."
The pigeon said, "Uh-huh, uh-huh."
That's when I came out of the bathroom and surprised them.
"New plan," said the squirrel. "You distract him by flying at his head and flapping your wings in his face. I'll grab his wallet."
The pigeon said, "Oo."
I said, "Squab." The pigeon hurried out the door, still walking, wings a little way out just in case, like a gunfighter's hands twitching above his holsters.
I said, "Brunswick stew."
The squirrel said, "What?"
"Brunswick stew," I said. "It's made of squirrels."
"That some kind of Depression-era thing, or did you grow up in a trailer park?" the squirrel asked. "This is the big city, Clem. We don't eat squirrels here. Besides, you'd have to catch me first."
Then—blink—she was four feet away in the parking lot. Gave one of those squirrel laughs and tossed an acorn at my head.
I went back to the writing table.