Squirrels and a map guide traveller to a Wal-Mart meal

Eric Ariel Salas

Eric Ariel Salas

The squirrel has finally sniffed a treasure in the middle of the field. Unmindful of me observing only a few yards away, not even signaling an expression of dim surprise, it took something from the ground. Whether or not it was food, I didn’t know. It meant so much for the squirrel, I could see how the nibbling went on for minutes.

This event took place – no, was seen – no, was experienced – that’s the right word, near the bell tower along Medary Avenue, on a cold, drizzling Saturday morning on my way to Wal-Mart to shop for something for lunch.

Unlike the squirrel needing no single lesson in mapping to track down food, I had to focus my memory’s eye to a map as I tagged along. Careful not to soak it with rain, I, ever so often, stopped beneath shades and checked parallel avenues I wandered upon.

Fourth Avenue, that was. Another squirrel crossed my path. Feeling cold, my ears were about to split, from numbness perhaps. I then realized how the squirrel might have laughed at my current situation, when in some twist of urge, I looked back and there it was, staring at me with the semblance of an annoying mimicry.

Past Fourteenth Avenue and to every vehicle that came my way, I pretended to be lost. In this not-so-perfect game plan, I thought an innocent look, plus a map in my hand, plus the gesture of spinning my head in all possible vane directions, plus the fact that I was alone in a kilometer radius, would bait drivers to pull over and give me a lift. Such strategy obviously proved worthless. Nobody even cared to slow down. Only the squirrel paid attention.

After being trapped in roadway construction, I finally found Wal-Mart. The store is never an impressive structure with its box-like frame. It pales in comparison with the huge five-story malls in my small city back home.

Shopping went easy, like child’s play. Eric, take a look above you and, in big bold letters, you’ll see in which section you should be. I grabbed a box of rice, sliced wheat bread, half a gallon of milk, a thin cut of meat and, in between those, I silently eagle-eyed the frequent shoppers. They were the ones who led me to the best inexpensive cookies and bread spreads and noodles and canned goods.

Then I proceeded to buy a few cooking utensils, paid everything in cash and, after an hour, off I went home.

Trailing back, however, I took the path less traveled. I crossed some greens parallel to the avenues. Sure, squirrels were there, too. This time, I boastfully walked sans a map in my hand.

You see, this isn’t a tale about squirrels after all. Rather, it’s about a boy who was ushered by squirrels to Wal-Mart so he could have a good lunch of rice and meat!