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“What a great winter morning, guys,” said Doc, seating himself at the philosophy counter and flipping his cup to the upright and fillable position. “Makes a guy glad to be alive.”

We all nodded and sipped.

“Say Doc,” said Herb, “how’s old Chipper getting along these days?”

We all chuckled, because all the locals know Chipper was invented by Doc a few years back to be his very own imaginary squirrel. Yeah, Doc’s like that.

Doc laughed, too. “Hibernation, boys,” he said, “Sacked out ‘til spring. You should all get hibernating pets. They’re really easy to care for as long as they stay asleep.”

“And he’s all tucked in?” Steve wanted to know.

“Fluffy tail covering his face. The very picture of warm beds and happy dreams.”

“That’s good,” said Dud.

The man in the uniform stood up from his place over in the booth and walked over to the counter. “Excuse me, sir, but are you Doc?”

Doc nodded.

“Doc that has the squirrel?”

“Well, yes,” he said.

“I’m the new game warden here and I’d like to see your squirrel permit, please.”

“Squirrel permit?”

“A civilian can’t keep a wild animal without first obtaining a permit. Otherwise, it’s a $500 fine.”

We sat in stunned silence, then Dud spoke up. “You boys haven’t met my cousin Jimmy yet, have you? He’s here for the weekend and I put him up to it.”

We made Dud buy the coffee. We all chipped in for Jimmy’s breakfast. Most cafes only serve food.

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Brought to you by “Packing the Backyard Horse” by Slim Randles. Available now from Amazon.com.

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