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November, 2019

Two boys are trying to take a picture or video of a squirrel. It’s not one of the black squirrels that call D.C. home. It’s not an albino, which would be unique in any locale. The reason why they want to capture this creature in this moment is not entirely clear, but the motivations of humans are often hard to decipher.

One of the boys crouches low like a professional photographer as the rodent dances closer to him. It rests for a moment before scurrying away to a tree, threatening to run up it. But it doesn’t. They coax it back using methods that are as clear as their motives.

But they work. A small crowd of squirrels begins to congregate, one coming tantalizingly close—almost close enough to touch—to the other boy, who does not have his phone out. He gets his friend’s attention, who turns to the nearest squirrel, scattering the congregants away. The phoneless boy extends his hand to the squirrel, but it doesn’t take the bait.

It goes on like this, the one trying to record the scene with his phone, the other trying to make contact with another species. Eventually the photographer turns his phone down, either satisfied or completely discouraged, and buries his nose in it, tapping away. In this moment the other boy strikes gold. One of the squirrels carefully extends its nose to his outstretched fist. He doesn’t yelp with joy or the thrill of victory or alert his partner. He gets up as his friend finishes with his phone, and they turn and walk away, now in possession of whatever they were looking for.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of  being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.