An old physics teacher of mine had some good stories about hitting and killing things.

Once he hit a morning dove really hard. He said it was as if a balloon full of blood hit his windshield. In his rear view mirror he saw a cloud of feathers.

He also once hit a raccoon the size of a small child doing about 130km/h once. It was standing in the middle of the road so instead of gracefully rolling and getting mutilated under the car it (well, some of it) went through his grill and caused something like $2000 damage to his car. He said he could hear chunks of the animal bouncing around in the engine compartment for a few seconds afterwards.

A friend of my dad hit a huge crow once. WHAM! Right into the grill. After the thump he figured it was the end of it. About half an hour later the body started flapping against the hood of the van he was driving, causing bird bits to shoot up against the wind shield. When he pulled over he found that he couldn't pull the carcass out of the grill, it was stuck. So he had to saw the head off. :)

I was driving with a friend of mine once when a chipmunk ran out into our lane. He must have thought he didn't have enough time to get across so he turned around and ran in the other direction. Then he changed his mind again and ran back towards the median. He continued this running back and fourth until we hit him.

My grandparents were driving somewhere through the US, I can't remember where. They came over a ridge and hit a cow.

Long time ago there was a pond that would flood over this road by our house every spring. This pond had a HUGE frog population. People would slow down to drive over the flooded part of the road and cringe to the sound of "pop! pop! pop!"

A friend of mine was driving home to Norwood one night and a cop was, for some strange reason, riding his ass. All of a sudden his cherries came on and he shot past my friend at a good 150 km/h. Unfortunately there were three raccoons standing in the road right in the path of the cop. One of them got hit and flew off into the ditch, another got caught under the tire and left a long and gruesome trail up the road. The third one was lucky and got to just stand there and watch the carnage unfold.

I once saw an unreal shot of a deer that had been hit by a car on the news. Don't ask me how, but a car had managed to run over its head, causing its antler to impale the tire which caused the entire carcass to wrap itself around the wheel. Ouch.

This guy who lived in the hamlet where I used to live once got in his car and turned the key. He heard a horrible scream and some bad sounds. He opened the hood and found that a cat had been sleeping in the engine compartment. Its stomach was open and its intestines were wrapped around several of the belts. He got a knife and cut the belts, put the cat in a box and drove very quickly to the vet. The vet fixed the cat up as good as new and it became the man's pet. The vet couldn't do anything about his car though. Driving it without the belts had left it in worse shape than the cat was.

Something that always use to bother me was "roadkill."

My heart would jump each time I saw a small creature whose body had no place to go no home to be absorbed back into and I mutter a silent sorry. 'Sorry your lost your life', 'sorry I can't help you find a cool refreshing spot of earth to covet for the short time your physical body has left here' and 'sorry I am so weak when it comes to facing such horror'.

I believe that all things (including myself if I could pull it off) have a right to return to where they sprung from yet day after day we pass by these small entities, whose life has been ripped away by fate. Day after day we watch them dwindle down flatter and flatter, smashed again and again by drivers 'til they are the dust carried away in all four cardinal direction - north, south, east and west, by the very steal and rubber beasts that stole their life.

Something had to change or so I felt I must take action and do the right thing.

You see, I made up my mind that given opportunity I would make sure that the roadkill that crossed my path would at least be shoveled to the side of the road to be on consoling mother earth. I left for school one morning and caught site of a poor ugly little opossum that was almost directly in the middle of the road and I told myself I would move him when I got home.

Not a few hours later, when I returned I passed by him/her/it a few hundred feet from my driveway (we lived in the country) it wasn't fresh kill anymore. It had been smashed a few more time, was a little gooier, a little flatter and a little messier but I stood by my word. I summoned up every ounce of bravery I could find grabbed the shovel and started down death road (bad pun). I kept telling myself I can do this, I can do this, I am not some little girl throwing-up at the thought of going in an outhouse. I am not that teenager who slid down a granite rock at the swimming hole after falling on the six bottles of coke I was carrying and almost passing out from the cleaning. Lucky me, only two bottles broke.

"Nah, I am an adult" I preached with vigor as my heart began to sink. I held it in and thought of how if I was in this position I would hope some super being would be kind enough to come shovel me into the dirt - it wasn't working though. I bravely slipped the shovel under the balanced center of this soft mess summing up that with one good fling I could land it in the tall grass at the side of the road and be on my way. Oh but when I lifted my shovel firmly planted underneath soulless flesh and bones. When I lifted praying that nothing would gush out or fall away, yes when I lifted that poor mangled piece of biodegradable fodder my fate was sealed.

That horrific sucking sound, as something soft and fleshly sticking to the surface below is freed - a sound very reminiscent of slurping soup or sucking a long string of spaghetti yet indescribably gut wrenching. That sound sealed my fate, dooming me to avoid ever doing so grand and noble a deed again. My stomach lurched I felt it rising and held steady ready to fling corpse to a safe and undisturbed final resting ground in the tall grass owned by the county road department. A lifeless thing that cared neither one way or the other where it laid - trouble was I did.

It flew with all the grace and force my out of shape overweight body could channel into what must have been a very heart heavy seven pounds balanced on the end of the long handled shovel. The deed was done, the dead was gone but not forgotten.


You were driving home late. In the rain. There was no reason to expect there would be a baby crawling across the road. You suppose it could have been something else, but in your heart in you know it was a baby. A human baby. Crawling across the road late at night in the rain.

You thought about stopping. You didn't. This is the stuff of pure panic. Adrenaline. You keep driving. Your hands are trembling. Your leg is shaking, barely able to stay on the accelerator pedal. For several minutes you fiddle with the radio knobs. Then you turn the radio off. You drive in silence except for the sound of the rain.

A baby. A human baby. Back there in the road. In the rain. It has to be dead. There is no way a baby could have survived being run over by your car. Being run over by you. Maybe you should go back. Maybe it could be still alive. Maybe there is something you can do.

No. That's impossible. You have to keep going. There was no one else on the road and not a building in sight. What was that baby doing there? What kind of terrible parent leaves a baby to crawl across a road in the middle of nowhere? It is the fault of the parents. That baby shouldn't have been there. You can't let your whole life be ruined because some idiot let their baby crawl across the road in the middle of the night. What was it doing there?

You pull over. There is a dirt field. You stop the car but leave it running and step outside. You stand for a moment, then fall down on your knees. Nausea overcomes you. You try to expel all the venom you feel building up inside of you. It isn't enough. You think about praying but even God wouldn't listen to you now. Baby killer. Keep driving. Keep going. Pretend it never happened. That baby shouldn't have been there. Poor parenting.

Something makes you turn around. You aren't sure why. Maybe if you go back it won't be a baby. Maybe it was just a doll or a paper bag filled with sand. No. You know it was a baby. You saw its eyes looking at you. Those eyes are still looking at you. You wish you hadn't quit smoking. This is one of those times a cigarette would be helpful. Your hand is shaking so badly. It needs something to do. It needs something to hold onto. You try praying. No one is listening.

There it is. Just up ahead. This is where you hit the baby. Why was it crossing the road? What was it doing way out here? There isn't a house around for miles. This is nowhere. Yet, you are here, so it has to be somewhere. You don't even remember why you were here or where you were going. You just were. And so was the baby. You see it in the road. It isn't moving. You think about stopping but you keep driving. Maybe it wasn't a baby. Maybe it was just a doll or a paper bag filled with sand. So hard to tell in the dark and in the rain. Maybe you were wrong. Maybe those eyes that are still staring at you aren't the baby's eyes. Maybe it is all in your head.

You turn around again. You were going somewhere. Maybe you will get there by morning.

Joseph Stalin said, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." What about the death of roadkill?


This year, I worked for the summer as a resident camp counselor. The pay was atrocious, but I loved the work and I'll definitely be returning next summer. I mean, you get a nickname, free room and board, and you're a role model for kids; What's not to love?. A good portion of the children come from single-parent families in the bad part of the city. Working at that camp was one of the only times I feel like I made a difference in the world.

After the last week of resident camp, and before the last week of day camp, every staff member was treated to dinner at an Italian restaurant. I remember I had the Ravioli Alfredo and also learned my Caesar salad get its flavor from anchovies. An anonymous patron at the restaurant purchased ice cream at a local mom and pop's for all 30-something of us because he overheard where we worked.

On the way home, I rode with four others: Michael, Hernan, Spiro, and Nicholas, who was driving. The sun was starting to go down. We were all stuffed beyond belief and all I wanted to do was lay on the ground and let my food digest without interruption. We were almost back to camp, as we made our way around the slow curve up to the property I felt the van slam to a dead stop. We had hit a bird. Not an eagle or anything, just a bird.

We all got out to see how bad it was. The bird was obviously hurt; it tried flying away but couldn't make it further than a few feet. Hernan picked it up and held it delicately in his hands for the last few minutes of our drive. We were all silent, even when we got out of the car. We all took turns holding it and knew what had to be done, but none of us wanted to do it. Nick and I were the last ones outside, as the others had already made their peace and went inside. He asked me if I wanted to do it. I told him I didn't. He nodded and took the bird into the forest. Less than half a minute later, he returned, and as he passed me on his way to the door inside, he said, "That head popped off easier than I thought." I pondered this for a few seconds, then made my way to the door as well. As I pulled down the outdoor hand sanitizer dispenser's lever next to the door, I wondered why I felt bad for that bird and not the deaths of opossums or raccoons I hit with my car, or even deaths in the obituaries and on the news. I walked inside and saw everyone else had forgotten the incident already and I pretended to as well.




Looking back, the incident seems kind of strange. I've reflected on it numerous times, and I think it was just the strange aura about everything that made me think about it so much. I don't feel sorry for the bird, or that I couldn't be the one to put it out of its misery. It was a strange sequence of events.

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