The leopard frogs were heaped on top of one another in the large bucket of water, occasionally hopping and showing signs of life. The sun, giver of energy and life, was streaming through the greenhouse windows. It smelled of plants and vigor, mitochondria, ATP.
They didn't have souls. I grabbed a frog.
And took it over into the room of black granitic lab tables, my pan of paraffin wax ready for vivisectioning. The gleaming longnecked faucets stood ready to wash away the lifeforce and cut-away organs.
I took the frog's head and placed it in my palm, and took its body between my thumb and forefinger. Its heart beat wildly.
I needed to do this quickly. An executioner was paid to make his cuts swift and true. Pain? Oh yes, there would be pain, but it would be fleeting. So I was promised.
I bent the slippery green body at right angle to its head. It wasn't an it. It wasn't alive. Stop thinking of it as alive. It was a few pages in a biology text, with cross sectional pictures of internal organs. God created the animals to be servants to man. God was pleased that I should be doing this.
The top of the neck was stretched thin. The base of the skull was close to the skin. The vertebrae close to the skull were maximally torqued away from their straight line position.
A needle, slipped into the gap between the vertebrae and the base of the skull, could find its way into the very cerebro-spinal cavity filled with beautifully designed neurons comprising the central nervous system and the brain. The needle would poke its way into the skull, destroying the brain. Jamming the needle to and fro would completely disrupt all brain activities. This is called pithing the frog.
I tried it. My heart raced as much as the frog's did. The executioner was scared, but it was not the same fear the frog felt. God forgive me. St. Augustine asked God for forgiveness for stealing fruit he didn't eat. I, I killed some of God's creatures.
The frog objected to the insertion of a needle into its body. It arched its back in protest, its legs thrusting against imaginary water in fear, hoping to escape a predator it could not outrun or outthink. But I was larger and smarter and more malevolent.
This was science. God help us.
The frog's brain was not pithed when I handed it to my biology teacher, who did the job properly. What was needed was a really vicious thrust, apparently. This was no time for elegance. The killing needle demanded a forceful touch.
The beautiful leopard frog lay limp in my hands. I pinned its front and rear legs to the paraffin wax, its soft white belly up.
I slit open the soft skin of its underbelly from the bottom of the throat to the point between its legs and began rummaging through the internal organs.
This was science? It may have been. My love for this particular science was flushed down the stainless steel drain, along with the blood and guts of a beautiful leopard frog. God, if you exist, forgive me.