Copyright 2013 Steve Joseph
Published by Joe Goodchild at Smashwords
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“Delicious, darling.” Mr Poole shovelled more mashed potato into his mouth, chewing it quickly in eagerness to try another mouthful of Lincolnshire sausage. Mrs Poole grinned at him, munching through her own meal. “It is your favourite, dear.” Mr Poole nodded, appreciating this time. “It’s been so peaceful, hasn’t it?” Mrs Poole added, “Since Giles and Miles left.” Mr Poole grunted in agreement, savouring the sausage. “And the garden’s just coming into bloom, isn’t it? You did so well, taking out that fuchsia in Autumn.” Mr Poole grunted again.
Mr Poole was a very old-fashioned man. He was at the stage in life that, the fledglings having left the nest for marriage and university, one finds himself unoccupied, and often bored. When it came to gardening, he was a dedicated perfectionist. Having procured a management job at one of the region’s most prestigious gardens fifteen years previously, Mr Poole had plenty of time to be prefect at work, and a ambition for his home garden to be perfect as well. Thus, Mr Poole’s garden was never finished, because, although Mr Poole was exceedingly clever at gardening, he was not aware that perfection is impossible to achieve when nature is involved.
As he looked out at the garden, Mr Poole swallowed a mouthful of peas. It was a beautiful garden, with a huge variety of colour, shape and height. It was a garden representing Mr Poole’s job, passion and married life, he had been working on it for thirty-four years. In that time, Mr Poole’s garden had evolved from a formal, polished, style to a garden full of eighty types of grasses and reeds, as well as several large pieces of topiary. Mr Poole’s next obsession had been border-flowers, then gravel pathways, then sheer variety, which leads us to this day.
Mr Poole’s garden was also a haven for nature, a large pond at the far end accommodating several frogs, fish and even the odd duck. Mr Poole also possessed many impressive bird feeders, which he topped up regularly, with expensive feed from the garden centre. Gram for gram, the birdseed was probably more expensive than his own children’s food. Mr Poole was very proud of his garden, but was proudest of it’s ability to attract many diverse bird species. Yes, Mr Poole was a very proud man indeed.
This evening, however, Mr Poole caught sight of an imperfection in the garden. A glaring imperfection. Was the position of one of the feeders not quite right? Mr Poole’s pulse increased as The Imperfection became obvious. There was dirty, rotten, scheming thief, crawling up his Bavarian Peanuts. A grey, mangy squirrel was filling it’s dirty little gob with the pricey feed! Mr Poole rose to his feet, half choking on his food and turning a deep crimson. “What is it, Robert?” Mrs Poole sounded worried. Mr Poole slammed the back door open and bellowed: “Get out of my garden you filthy creature!” The squirrel scattered, bursting up onto the fence and away. Mr Poole was left, red-faced, balled-fisted and quivering-moustached on his patio, watching the tufty little tail disappear into the surrounding trees.
Mr Poole stood there for some time, moustache quivering, face regaining its normal tone. After a few minutes, he shouted: “I will not tolerate squirrels in my garden!” and reentered the house. His wife, in this time, had quietly swallowed the last of her potato, cleared the plates, and begun to wash up. Mr Poole spent the remainder of the evening sitting, stony faced, in front of book. He didn’t turn a single page.
The intrusive squirrel had almost vanished from memory in the way most incidences do by the morning. Mr Poole was observing the garden once again. The fried egg in the centre of his plate had been devoured, and Mr Poole had turned his attention to the bacon. Mrs Poole was an excellent cook, and the salty but meaty taste of the bacon almost distracted Mr Poole from the bird feeders. Almost. The bacon was abandoned as Mr Poole burst outside and chased the squirrel from the garden, wailing obscenities as he went. Satisfied with his work, Mr Poole resumed his breakfast, a little hasty to finish it before it became cold.
Mr Poole was disrupted eight times that morning. He resumed his breakfast six times, and ran down from brushing his teeth later on. He was certain it was the same squirrel, the same insolence in it’s eyes. The final time was by far the most ridiculous. Mr Poole was having his morning shower. He had applied the shampoo to his hair, and decided to do a precautionary sweep of the garden, opening the window to do so. The squirrel was sat on the bird table this time, helping itself to Waitrose Brioche buns, fresh from the bakery just yesterday. This is when Mr Poole snapped. Only just remembering to put on a towel, he sprinted down the stairs and out into the garden, half naked, yelling at the pest. It disappeared and was not seen again that morning.
Mrs Poole was a housewife, pure and simple. She had spent years, while Mr Poole was at work, cleaning and tidying the house, washing clothes, reading cheap romance novels, and making her own fun. She didn’t dare step foot into the garden, unless to appreciate it. It was midday, and she was lunching alone, at the end of the dinner table that faced the garden. Something else was having it’s lunch, the squirrel was back. Mrs Poole looked out at the little furry creature. It didn’t look back, as it was too busy collecting the brazil nuts that were stacked in a large feeder. She watched, fascinated as the little animal clumsily clung on to the feeder, wobbling and scrambling for a grip.
While she watched, she thought. She was trying to decide whether to chase the diner away. She knew that her husband would be furious if he discovered that she had watched the squirrel make off the expensive food, but felt sympathetic. The poor creature was only trying to feed itself. How would she feel if somebody chased her away from her lunch? Her mind was made up by the time she had finished her mouthful. Mr Poole didn’t need to know. Smiling wryly at her own, thrilling piece of deception, she filled her fork with cold meat.
Arriving home at mid-afternoon, Mr Poole kissed his wife and accepted he tea she had prepared. “No intruders today? Oh, good, good. Looks like they finally got the message, eh!” However, stepping into the kitchen, Mr Poole almost dropped the tea. Quiet, malevolent, he whispered: “None, you say.” Every feeder, all seven of them, was full of squirrels. Mr Poole went purple. “Get out of my garden!” He exploded, bursting down the garden, waving his arms and cursing. Mrs Poole set about clearing up the tea and filling the pot once more.
Mr Poole spent the evening sitting in the garden, long after dark, until eleven o’clock, when, with a final shout of warning, he headed straight to bed.
Mrs Poole spent the whole day in the garden, chasing away squirrels and reading her book. Mr Poole had left in a foul mood, and Mrs Pool dared not disobey his instructions. It was a lovely day, so she was not displeased at spending the day outside. Mr Poole returned home, with a large package, in the evening.
The package was taken straight down to the garden shed, where Mr Poole spent a good hours. A squirrel, plucking up courage, scuttled onto a bird feeder. However, it scattered when explosion rang out. The first shot had been fired.
It’s fair to say that Mr Poole had been driven insane by this point. From the brief time he had spent as a soldier, Mr Poole knew how to handle a gun, and this is what he did now. The next day, and the next, and the next, were spent leaning out of a garden-facing window, pointing the gun outwards. Any furry intruders were warned off with a resounding shot, frequently waking children and sending dogs into a barking frenzy. At three o’clock, on the third day, squirrel-kind received their first casualty, and Mrs Poole refused to look out onto the garden, finished seven books and a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.
Slowly but surely, the news of Mr Poole’s madness spread. The rumours flew around the suburbia, as these things do, and within days the subject was being raised at bingo, football club and even at the bus stop. Mr Poole had finally lost it, and was endangering the lives of the local community. Something has to be done.
P.C Meadows had just had his lunch, a sausage and cucumber sandwich, courtesy of Mrs Meadow, when he received the call. Almost immediately, jumped into his patrol car and headed to Mr Poole’s house. When he was answered by an old lady, driven frail and infirm from a week of resounding gunshots, he was slightly surprised. “Er, good afternoon, Ma’am, is Mr Poole home?” Mrs Poole nodded solemnly; “He’s upstairs.” With much persuasion and cajoling on Mrs Poole’s part, Mr Poole was coaxed downstairs, and addressed P.C Meadows. “Can I help you Constable?”
“Yes, we’ve been receiving complaints about loud disturbances from your property, Mr Poole.”
“Yes, if you would be so kind as to come with me.” Mr Poole instructed his wife to watch the squirrels, and was ushered into the police car. He was eventually found guilty of owning a gun without a license, animal cruelty and disturbance. Mrs Poole has been watching the squirrels ever since. Mr Poole has also been watching the squirrels, in the prison gardens through the bars of his cell.
I hope you really enjoyed reading this, short and silly as it might have been.
I’m currently working on longer, more sensible stuff, which I hope you’ll also enjoy.
This is the short story of the stubborn, archaic Mr Poole. Mr Poole is a gardener, and his beautiful plot of land is used, amongst other things, as a five-star-restaurant for the local birdlife. However, when a squirrel intrudes into Mr Poole's pride and joy, he takes things far, far to far. This is just a short, fun story built out of a couple of hours freewriting. However, if one, wonderful reader smiles at my story, that will be enough for me. I really hope you enjoy it.