I’ve been remiss in updating this blog. Why? Well, I could admit that I’ve sorely neglected my running and my writing over the past few months. I could say that I fell out of habit during the move to Colorado. I could confess that I’ve simply been lazy, undisciplined, lacking in motivation. Or I could tell the truth: I was kidnapped by prairie dogs.
It all started on the very first day I arrived in Colorado, while I was driving to our new house. I got off the highway and as I came down the exit ramp, a cute little furry thing ran across the road. I braked and swerved to avoid him, but the little bugger switched direction at the last minute and ran straight under my tires. I felt a tug on the steering wheel, coupled with the dreaded “thump,” and I knew I’d done it. I’d murdered an overgrown gerbil. But it wasn’t my fault! He ran under the car! There was no way to avoid him! It was like he WANTED to die. Rodent suicide, it was. Still, I was devastated. For about a minute, and then I got to the house and started unpacking and didn’t really think much about the deceased vermin.
Until a few weeks later.
I was out for my morning run, which – since I was still adjusting to the altitude – consisted of short bouts of jogging interspersed with long periods of swearing. I had just finished a string of profanities when I heard chirping sounds, like a swarm of mutant birds about to attack. I looked around and realized that I had veered into the middle of a prairie dog town, surrounded by ferret-looking things standing on mounds of dirt. I could sense the hostility, the way they bared their little buck teeth at me and chirped aggressively. I turned to make a hasty retreat, but one of them ran under my feet and tripped me. As I lay on the ground, I saw another rodent pick up a rock and aim at my head. Then everything went blank.
It must have taken hundreds of them to drag me into their den. I assume they’d been planning the attack for weeks, because let’s face it, there’s no way I’d fit down a standard-size rodent hole. I can only imagine the labor required to dig an entrance large enough to fit yours truly.
At the risk of sounding like I have Stockholm Syndrome, I must note that they were very courteous kidnappers. They gave me plenty of grass to eat and even brought the occasional flowering plant as a special snack. They took the time to create an extra large burrow for me, complete with a bed and makeshift chair. I was rather irked that there was no HBO or even electricity but hey, kidnap victims can’t be choosers.
It took a while for me to get the hang of the language, but eventually I was able to converse with them. Did you know prairie dogs have an extensive vocabulary, second only to humans? And really, you won’t believe what they’re saying about us.
I’m not sure how long I was in captivity, but when I got kidnapped, “Gravity” was in theaters, and by the time I was released, it was on Netflix. That’s a long time to eat nothing but grass.
When I learned they were putting me on trial for Herman’s murder (apparently that was the deceased’s name), I was nervous it might be a sham, a kind of kangaroo court. But then they explained that kangaroos are marsupials, not related to prairie dogs at all. So unrelated, in fact, they don’t even get together at Christmas.
Still, even if prairie dogs aren’t in the same family as kangaroos, how did I know what kind of justice they might mete out? Fortunately, my public defender was great. I explained that I tried to avoid hitting Herman, but he’d changed course at the last moment.
“Ah, the classic Rodent Reverse Shuffle,” my attorney said. “Squirrels try it, but prairie dogs are the masters. We can turn on a dime. Unfortunately, car-driving humans don’t anticipate it. Sad to say, accidents like these happen all the time.”
The trial didn’t take long. The prosecutor chirped quite a bit, and then my attorney chirped back, and in less than an hour, the jury chirped out their verdict.
I was cleared of all charges and free to go. Once they expanded the exit tunnel for me, that is. Turns out, grass is high in carbs.