Chipmunks make poor pets....
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My brother Ronnie and I were nothing alike. He was the good boy; I was mischievous, curious about everything, and constantly getting into trouble, trying to satisfy my curiosity. I got many a switching because of Ronnie’s snitching. Occasionally, though, events worked in my favor. Such was the case with Chippie.
Wild creatures interested Dad, and if he caught one, he’d bring it home for a few days before setting it free. Once he brought home a chipmunk in a birdcage. “Boys, what shall we name him?” I suggested Monk, but Dad preferred my brother’s choice, Chippie.
When Ronnie tried feeding Chippie a peanut, it bared razor-sharp incisors, expanded its cheek pouches, glared furiously with beady black eyes, and made threatening chirring sounds. “Aw, come on, let’s be friends,” Ronnie said, and again extended the peanut. The chipmunk swiped at him with needle-like claws. My brother retreated.
The next day Ronnie removed the cage’s lid and dropped a peanut to Chippie, who gobbled it down. An idea popped into his head … a really bad idea. “See! Chippie has accepted me as his friend. I’m going to ease my hand down and gently pick up my little buddy. Then I can hold and feed him at the same time.”
“I wouldn’t. He might bite you,” I warned.
Ronnie spotted one of Dad’s heavy work gloves. Slipping it on, he said, “Not if I’m wearing this … no way he can bite through this thick leather.” Satan blessed me with a sadistic mindset, and I encouraged him to do so.
He eased the top off the cage and reached toward Chippie, who seemed unperturbed. As Ronnie’s fingers closed gently around his little buddy, Satan’s kingdom broke loose. Chippie opened his jaws so wide that it squeezed his eyes closed, and clamped down. Those incisors went straight through the leather and into Ronnie’s thumb.
When my screaming sibling tried to shake loose his attacker, Chippie bit even harder. Jumping up and down and flinging his arm around, he tried desperately to free his hand from the enraged chipmunk.
Finally, satisfied that he had exacted as much pain as possible, Chippie let go. When he did, he and the glove went sailing across the room, knocked over one of Mama’s lamps, and thudded into the wall.
Then I heard Dad’s boots clumping up the back steps. I looked at my squalling brother and thought … Oh boy! Your misery has just begun. Dad looked at the empty cage, shattered lamp, and deceased chipmunk, still attached to the glove.
“Which one of you did this?” As he removed the dreaded belt, Ronnie begged, “Please don’t whip me, Dad. Look what Chippie did to my thumb!” His pleas went unheeded, as Dad laid on the stripes. Then we heard Mama’s wail and saw her staring at the ruined lamp. Her willow switch picked up where the belt left off.
By the time his punishment was over, Ronnie’s fate was about as bad as Chippie’s demise.