The Adventures of Sycamore Chip: Sleep-Deprived Squirrel Detective

Sleep still escapes me. Sadly, it seems my body’s response to anxiety sometimes is short bouts of insomnia. In order to deal with this, I’ve decided to satirize the whole thing. Each time I can’t sleep, I’ll be writing another entry in a series of very short stories which, strictly for my own amusement, will combine the general plot shell of Don Quioxote with that of the Jeeves and Wooster series. So without further ado I give you: the adventures of Sycamore Chip, sleep-deprived squirrel detective.

Part One: Setting Up Shop

Sycamore Chip was not actually called Sycamore Chip. It was a name he chose for himself after he founded his detective agency. He had in fact been named in the more musical fashion of squirrels, a chittering collection of squeaks, chirps, and large front incisor-collisions that is untranslatable in the human tongue. He changed his name because he wanted something snappier. His uncle, whose name meant “Deep and Cozy Knothole in an Aged Spruce,” and which sounded like a hundred ball bearings dropped onto a Parcheesi board, asked him with some pique, “What’s not snappy about your original name?”

Chip answered, “For one thing, it takes fifteen seconds to say it. For another, I have had a vision of something greater for myself, and the first step on that path is a new, snappy name.”

As a result, everyone thought him insane. However, they had begun to wonder this about him anyway, due largely to the fact that Chip was the only animal in the woodlands who suffered from insomnia. There wasn’t even a word or expression Chip could use to refer to his condition. They began referring to him with a mellifluous name meaning “He Who Paces With the Moon,” but eventually they just took to calling him “weirdo.” Squirrels are naturally helpful creatures, despite what most humans might think, so in the early stages of Chip’s experience, many of his friends and family gave him different pieces of advice as to how to fix his condition. “What you need to do,” his aunt told him, “is eat more acorns. I notice you’re only eating pecans right now, and those tend to have a negative effect on your circulatory system. Acorns should fix you right up.” Chip took her advice, with the result that after three days he not only couldn’t sleep, but also had diarrhea, and of course the only thing worse than being unable to sleep is being unable to sleep because you have diarrhea.

After he gave up the acorns, Chip was told to get more exercise. “Try spending more time in the higher branches,” advised his sister. “You’ll fall asleep for sure if you’re tired enough.” He took her advice, and nearly killed himself when he leaped out from the tallest limbs of his home tree without knowing much about the tall limbs in the adjacent tree, and fell thirty feet before landing with a sickening thud in a robin’s nest. When he could walk normally again, he decided not to listen to anyone else and just do whatever he wanted, which in this case was read mystery comics from the trash can in a nearby alley.

He was fascinated. Such confidence, such poise, such insight these detectives had! If only he could have the same! By this time he was only sleeping an hour or two at a time, and that spaced far enough apart that his mind wasn’t exactly “walking with the seasons” as the squirrels say, so after a few weeks he not only found detectives inspiring, but began to believe he was one himself. He could feel it in his bones. He was a famous detective, the first the woodlands had ever known, which was why he couldn’t sleep. What kind of famous detective wasted his time sleeping? Not a good one, that’s for sure. In none of the detective magazines he found in the trash did he read any instances of the main character sleeping. So he changed his name to Sycamore Chip (despite the fact that there were no Sycamore trees in their forest, a fact raised with some perplexity by his elder brother), moved out of his family’s knothole to occupy more auspicious premises in a nearby elm, and announced himself with a series of scratches above his new knothole which he imagined would declare his candidacy for detective of the woodlands, but which were in reality gibberish.

A young chipmunk, who had his own family nearby but who was always on the lookout for new work, chipmunks being naturally more plebeian than their more exalted squirrel brethren, and when Gary, which was the chipmunk’s name (“A fine name, that,” snorted Chip’s uncle. “Leave it to a chipmunk to think of something that so absurd.”), queried Chip on his new enterprise, he was quickly convinced that he should help in some way. He asked Chip, and was told, “Right now all you need to do is follow me. I have no idea how I’ll make my name yet, but I’m sure the opportunity will arise.” The opportunity to solve a famous case didn’t arise right away, but the opportunity to save the sleep-deprived detective extraordinaire from falling dead asleep from extreme fatigue and falling in front of a riding lawn mower and chopped to hash arose on the second day, and the opportunity to grab the great shamus by his tail as he tumbled out of his knothole arose on the third, until it quickly became clear that Gary would be serving as protector and defender of his new boss, an arrangement that suited him just fine because he had no great ability as a thinker. (This, incidentally, is something his wifehad commented on at length for some years. “Well,” thought Gary, “Here’s the chance to put my other skills at work, and in the service of a great detective.” His wife took this as further proof that her husband was, as the chipmunks say, “three petals short of a bloom.”) He would leave that to the great Chip. And so it was that Sycamore Chip and Gary bode their time until the woodlands needed their services.

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1 Responses to The Adventures of Sycamore Chip: Sleep-Deprived Squirrel Detective

  1. Joel says:

    I did a sleepless series once: The Night Security Monologues (Part 1, Part 2)

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