The Badger’s Den had had a strict “no fights” policy for longer than anybody could remember, not even the turtle who had never introduced itself, but dropped in on occasion in the summertime, watching generations of voles, foxes, and even badgers pass. The current owner and barkeeper, Bartholomew, had served a lot of different guests. Owls were not that common, but one of them stood out. He had come to the Den with the air of someone who wanted to get drunk. It took little prompting from Bartholomew for him to unload his troubles.
“See, there’s this woman,” – owl, naturally – “Ignatia.” Judging from his sigh, even her name alone was better than a life supply of fresh mice, and Bartholomew suffered through some disjointed, lovestruck praise of her looks, prowess and character. “So, well, I had a chance with her, but of course what was needed was a nest. I’d found a nice hollow, and she was inside inspecting it, when a squirrel started throwing nuts at us. It was so quick I couldn’t catch it, completely fearless, and it ruined everything.”
“You can’t have given up that soon, right?”
“Oh, that monster wasn’t the only one. The first day at the second nest, a mouse showed up. It hooted and acted as if it was an owl and our child.”
After a pause, Bartholomew asked, “Couldn’t you have eaten it?”
“Are you crazy? It clearly was, and we didn’t want to catch whatever made it so.”
“That makes sense.” What the badger did not say was that they sounded like a pair of complete pushovers.
“See. Well, anyway, now Ignatia is looking for someone who doesn’t attract lunatics, and I’m all alone.”
“Don’t worry too much; I’m sure someone will fall for you.” It’s all part of the job.
There was a thump followed by shuffling noises at the entrance, as a bat awkwardly crawled in. “Yoo-Hoo, Orville,” he called.
“Already has. That’s the problem.” Orville downed the rest of his drink in one go and tried to ignore the newcomer. The evening went downhill from there.