Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Roadkills and Such--Part I

As the weather chills, I have a chilling memory, more than one actually. I’ll dole them out like M&M’s in a Halloween fun-sized bag. One for you . . . one for you . . . and one for you.


I got in my car to drive to a funeral. I flipped the fan to high and waited for the air to turn warm. I rubbed my hands together. “Should’ve brought my gloves.”
It was my second stop of the day. The first had been to speak to a group of women. I was wearing what my husband calls my Johnny Cash outfit—head to toe black. There was however, the sparkle of a big, Madonna-sized rhinestone cross. It lay cold against my sternum.
Abe Lincoln said, “You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.” I thought of this as I drove I-68 towards town.

I was slowing down on the off ramp when I saw it—an almost roadkill, a squirrel. My heart made a trek from my stomach to my throat. I dearly love furry things, preferring them to be alive. I have a friend who says, “If you want to wear fur, don’t shave.” I agree.
On the exit ramp I pressed the brakes harder, trying to buy time to assess the situation. My eyes vacillated between courage and fear—looking, looking away. I tried to swallow what felt like a soggy wad of tissues.
I glanced in the rearview mirror. No one was behind me. I could take all the time I wanted to watch, and not, Mr. Squirrel’s demise.
As my car crept towards him, my brain fast forwarded to a conclusion. My knuckles turned white on the steering wheel as proximity confirmed my theory. My eyes and nose burned with soon to be tears.
Someone had just run over the little guy, but not all of him. A car had crushed him from his squirrel waist down. His top half seemed fine. In fact, his front end was running to and fro, but his back legs and tail were going nowhere fast.
I knew what I should do. I should get back on the interstate, circle around and come back and put the poor thing out of his misery. I should make his front end match his back. I didn’t though. I didn’t have the guts, pardon the terrible pun, to do it.
With tears streaming down my face I drove on to the funeral, on to more death. I hated my cowardice and prayed that someone braver and kinder would squash Mr. Squirrel and morph him from almost roadkill to roadkill for real.

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