Spokane Squirrel Rental is on Division Street, just north of the river. It masquerades itself as a Perkins Fine Dining restaurant but has long been known to locals as the premier source of security and surveillance materials. At least, that’s what the ad said. I’d been looking for a ninja trained gerbil to protect my house from vagrants and relatives, which is a redundant statement if I ever heard one. I stepped out of the summer heat into the cool interior and was confronted by a woman wearing a waitress outfit. “Welcome to Perkins!” she said gleefully. “Just one for lunch?”
“Yeah, right.” I said, giving her a conspiratorial wink. They’d done a good job at disguising the store, even to the point of having diners and servers and a working kitchen. The place looked, to the uninitiated, very much like a Dennys restaurant, but without the prejudice against persons of color and those with no liquid assets. Still, I let her lead me to a table where she dropped off a couple of laminated menus with photos of the different entrees they claimed to serve. Many of the people in Spokane who eat are illiterate, and the menus allow them to point at a picture of what they want served. I looked at all four pages and even a “desert” supplemental menu trapped between the salt and pepper shakers but didn’t notice any animals with lethal force training.
“We do breakfasts 24 hours a day.” she bragged. She wore a nametag that said her name was “Donna,” but I knew it was an alias, geared to throw me off. “What would you like, Sugar Plum?” She leaned down giving me a peek at the valley between her K2 class breasts and whispered that she got off shift in twenty minutes.
“Actually, I was looking for home security products this time, although I do admit the twin stacks look pretty good.” She beamed at me and thrust her chest out. “If I was hungry I just might order up the waffle twin stack and eggs combo though.”
“Donna” looked a bit deflated and narrowed here eyes at me. “I don’t know anything about home security,” she said, sounding a bit miffed. “Do you want to order something or not?”
“Yes. I’d like a martial arts trained gerbil, preferably one with expanded blade skills, and a night vision first person monitoring system accessory pack.” The waitress motioned to an employee trying to look like a busboy and pointed to the kitchen. The kid nodded and slipped through the double swinging doors leading to the alleged kitchen area. He returned a moment later followed by a Cat D-12 bulldozer. On second look it was actually a huge man wearing kitchen whites that had turned a greasy faded yellow. He looked to weigh about 2500 pounds and had biceps the size of my waist if there were two of me. He was holding a meat cleaver. “Maybe I’ll take those waffles after all.” I said.
“Too late, buster.” snarled “Donna.” She looked at the animated concrete pillar with the cleaver and said “We got us a wise guy here.”
“So,” I said, “this isn’t Spokane Squirrel Rental?”
“Squirrel?” thundered the concrete brick. “No squirrel. Good food. I show!” He grabbed me by the collar and tossed me sliding all the way across the restaurant and through the kitchen door. I cursed myself for using Craigslist to look for security animals. I recalled that the last time I answered an ad it was for a service animal. For my $500 I got a garden slug with a red cross pinned to it. Gargantua came up behind me and grabbed me by the scruff again. “You look!” he said, opening a refrigerator door. Inside was the rear quarter of a horse with the skin, hair and hoof still attached and hanging on a meat hook. There looked to be a pile of chilled opossums stacked in frozen stiffness to one side. “Wrong door.” huffed Godzilla. He opened another door and I saw the typical contents of a restaurant ‘fridge. Eggs, milk, bacon, rabbits… “See? Good food!”
“My mistake.” I said. The mastodon seemed placated. He relaxed his grip and I took the opportunity to run for my life. I sped through the dining area thinking Soylent Green would be an upgrade and made it to my car intact. I drove away thinking perhaps I should stop by the Animal Control facility and just adopt a dog to help keep an eye on my home and possessions. Sure, squirrels are the latest in security and protection, but like Apple computers and phones, they’re just overpriced versions of trusty old standards.