“And stay out!” The redheaded manager of the newsstand stood in the open door shaking a small bag of potato chips in the air. Marjee looked around for the culprit, but she was the only one on the steps of the office building.
“Not you,” Rachael said, “Her.” She pointed with her bag at a gray squirrel that scurried across the sidewalk and up a tree. “She’s getting bolder. She just tried to steal this.”
Marjee tried not to laugh as she followed the other woman into the building. Rachael chasing squirrels through the open door was a sure sign of summer. The lobby was already getting hot, but Marjee took the stairs anyway. She started smelling the trash can by the time she reached the first landing. She always wondered why the custodial staff kept it by the stairs. With its faux brick exterior, it was discreet, but in the summer it always smelled, no matter how often they emptied it. Just as she passed it, the trash can moved, and Marjee jumped.
“What’s growing in there? No wait, I don’t want to know.”
She walked past quickly, but couldn’t help looking back when she reached the office door. A gray head popped up and then a squirrel with something in its mouth ran down the side and down the stairs.
“It’s the invasion of the squirrels,” she announced as she pulled the door open and entered the small reception area.
Janet didn’t look up from her computer screen. “That’s nice. Just as long as they leave me alone.”
“Hey, do you mind if I open the window before we crank up the air? It’s already stuffy in here.”
Without waiting for an answer, Marjee headed for the window and pushed it up. There was no screen, but it was too early for flies or mosquitoes and she’d close it before too long. She settled into her chair and turned on her computer. She was typing an e-mail when Janet screamed.
“Go away. Scat. Get out of here. Go, go.”
Janet was standing on her chair waving her stapler in the direction of the window. A small gray squirrel sat frozen on the window sill.
“It’s staring at me,” Janet shouted. “Do something.”
Marjee started to laugh. “What are you doing on the chair? It’s a squirrel, not a mouse.”
“It’s a rodent. I hate them. Go away.” She waved the folder faster; the papers on her desk shifted, but the squirrel stayed frozen.
“I think they’re cute. Maybe this one wants to be adopted. We can feed it potato chips from downstairs. I know they like ‘em. I think I’ll name it Rocky.”
Janet wiggled on the chair. “If you don’t get rid of it, I’m going to scream.”
“Okay, okay.” Marjee stood up and walked toward the window. She waved her arms at the squirrel. “Time to go home.”
As she approached, it finally moved. It ran across the window sill and jumped to the floor behind the filing cabinet. Janet shrieked. Marjee laughed and chased after it. The squirrel ran under Janet’s desk and headed for the copier in the other corner. Janet shrieked again.
“I can’t catch it. Maybe if I get some food, I can lure it back to the window.” She moved toward the door.
“Don’t leave,” Janet wailed.
Just then the door opened and the squirrel dashed across the room and out into the hallway.
“What was that?” Their boss stood in the door, a dripping mug of coffee in his hand.
“Close the window, close the window,” Janet begged.
Marjee walked to the window and pulled the sash down, then turned to the air conditioner. Chasing the squirrel had made her hot. Janet finally climbed off her chair, pulled something out of her desk and leaned over her feet.
“There. At least they won’t run up my legs.” She swung around and Marjee saw a rubber band secured around the bottom of each pant leg.
“Janet, they’re squirrels, not mice.”
“I don’t care, they’re rodents.”
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