Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday my self-loathing was more powerful than usual and I was glad to have Jesse around.
“Jesse,” I rasped from beneath the covers, “can you get me my slippers?” I did not want to move, as I had enclosed a lot of heat under the duvet, and in my half-sleep delirium had designed a business plan for a heat empire, in which I would sell the warmth to neighbouring beds in exchange for things like money. The insulation around my window was almost as useless as I was, and the cord to my space heater had been chewed through, first by mice, then more thoroughly by badger teeth.
Jesse was evidently downcast too, and did not stir from the bed of dirty clothes I had made him.
Curled up in a ball, he had a lot of heat to lose if he moved. He would be my first client if he did this for me.
I had taught him the command earlier in the week, but had not instilled discipline in the badger, instead giving him treats whenever he made that face of his.
Slippers, Jesse.”
He did not budge, but made a decisive growl. I had heard this once before, when I had first attempted to take away his honey milk, and the deep scratches on my palm, wrist and along my jawline still stung with thankfully-not-infected hindsight.
Regaining more sense, I put one leg out into the frigid air to feel around for the slippers, fully aware that I was endangering my career in the temperature industry. I winced when my foot touched the bare floor, and my cheeks crackled with frozen tears. The slippers were not where I had thought I had left them, but it had been dark, and I had been bleeding.
“Jesse, where are my slippers.”
No sound. I began to shiver as air from the outside tainted my stores, and my dreams of being an industry leader faded back into my subconscious. I hoped the friction of my skin against the covers would provide some temporary relief as I slid out onto the floor, where I trusted the slippers would be. Not so.
His badger face tilted up toward me, and I saw redness in his eyes. There was probably a lot of dust on the floor; in my preoccupations over the past few days, I had neglected to sweep or vacuum. Feeling even worse, I pushed aside a shopping bag full of garbage and curled up beside him, vowing to give him any residual heat that still remained on my person.
But when I edged closer, I saw an edge of scratchy gray material underneath his paws. He had wrapped himself around my slippers, keeping them warm for me! He did not protest when I took them – in fact, I may have even felt a nudge of affection from his tapered head.
After breakfast I washed Jesse’s pile of clothes, and then we went back to bed, where we slept away another ten hours. I missed a hair appointment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A knock at the door

The Authorities were quick to discover my badger.
“Are you ‘Chris?’” one of them asked, his face one-third covered by federal-issue sunglasses.
“Yes,” I said, shielding my eyes from the glare. “I am Chris.”
“Are you in possession of,” he asked, consulting his clipboard, “one… Jesse?”
Internet police. The other man had an eBay pin affixed to the lapel of his suit.
“No,” I said, holding Jesse behind my back with both hands. “No badgers on this premises.”
“We never said Jesse was a badger.”
I tried not to wince as Jesse bit into my hand, the skin still sticky from when I had brushed the honey jar with my knuckle.
“You didn’t need to,” I said. “You’re reading my accounts, obviously.”
“We… don’t have access to your accounts.”
“My accounts of Jesse the Badger.”
“Oh. They were brought to our attention, yes.”
“They are fictional, you realise.”
The man removed his sunglasses. He had green eyes.
Jesse scratched the back of my shirt with his long claws, tearing through easily and catching himself on my belt. I felt a trickle of blood and squirmed, and the Internet Policeman definitely noticed something was wrong.
“If Jesse the badger is, as you say, indeed, fictional, can you say the same for your light-blue towel!?”
I had foolishly left my Emergency towel in full view on my armchair. His partner cracked a smile but said nothing. I recovered.
“That towel is true.”
“So I see.”
We looked at each other for a few more seconds before anyone spoke. Jesse had attacked the blood and I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming.
“We’ll be back with a warrant,” the man said, and the two of them walked off, down the stairs to the street. I closed the door with my shoulder and put Jesse down. He looked up at me, his bloody snout like a dewy hibiscus, and in his little green eyes I saw something I hadn’t noticed before, but had been there the whole time – gratitude.
We spent the rest of the afternoon tearing apart an old blanket.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bad(ger) For Business

My good friend Heather came over today for a Business Meeting.

“Good afternoon, Heather,” I said, offering my hand. She reluctantly shook it.

“Hi,” she said.

“Would you like a coffee? Or would you prefer to get straight down to Business?”

“Coffee would be great,” she said. We moved to the kitchen and she sat at the table.

“Are you alright?” she asked. “You seem a little different.”

“Oh, I got this badger!” I told her, and Jesse, at that moment, scampered in.

“Oh my God!” She drew up her legs.

“Isn’t he cute? Look, I got him a feeding bottle and everything.” I picked up Jesse and demonstrated the technique. I had put some honey in his milk and I could tell he enjoyed the taste.

“Chris, why the hell are you keeping that in your apartment? Have you taken it to a vet?” She was clearly not in the right frame of mind for Business.

“He’s been tested for all sorts of ailments. And he only sometimes bites. His name is Jesse!” I offered her the furry bundle but had to instead place him on the floor while I prepared the coffee.

Heather eyed the badger, who was sniffing around the base of the stove, looking for mice – he had caught one only fifteen minutes prior to Heather’s arrival, and the bloodlust had evidently struck again.

“So,” I said, “with regards to that website you needed designing. For Business.”

“Yeah, that’s just the thing,” she said, now making sustained eye contact with Jesse, “It’s just… I don’t think I need a website right now. I’m a nurse.”

“Not even for a blog?”

“I had one of those, and you hijacked it, and started your own blog in the comments.”

I had! So long ago now, a child’s lifetime ago, a time when the thought of a badger as a pet would have seemed ludicrous, if I’d had the idea.

Jesse ran at Heather and she screamed, but my relatively new animal friend had just seen a mouse beside the garbage can. It displaced some recycling I had propped up by a shelf.

“I… I can’t…” Heather left the kitchen and headed for the door.


She turned around.

“I don’t know what’s gone wrong in your life, but you can’t possibly expect to keep a badger –”

Jesse had come out from behind a box formerly used to package shepherd’s pies and was making a whimpering noise. I could practically hear Heather’s heart melting.

I firmly pushed the plunger down on the French press and waited a good thirteen seconds.

“Shall I pour the coffee?”

She looked at Jesse, and then she looked at me.

“Oh, alright.”

She came back, and we talked Business. Jesse caught two more mice that afternoon, and I ended up designing that website! Though Heather spat out the coffee. I think I did it wrong somehow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I found this badger

I live in an area that one would normally not expect to find or even see a badger - I definitely wouldn't call it "wooded", although there is a park with some good trees nearby. But I was on one of my walks, sticking almost religiously to sidewalk, and there it was, on the sidewalk, just bristling at me. I had brought a towel in a plastic bag for Emergencies and was able to classify this as such, but I did not want to go near the beast, just in case it was rabid. I began to back away slowly, vowing to reconnect to my walking route at the soonest possible convenience, but the badger softened immediately, like a shaving brush in premium oil. It crept after me, and when I noticed the lack of foam in its snuffle, I without any further concern wrapped the animal in my towel (soft, light blue) and carried it home. It did not struggle, and seemed to enjoy the towel's scent. I encountered one passer-by on my way and when she looked at my badger, and then my face, quizzically, I told her I was sorry and hurried away.

That was five days ago and so much has happened since then that I must tell you! He has turned my otherwise normal life upside down, and I have named him Jesse.