As my close friends and enemies will both tell you, I’m not exactly an animal person. I am opposed to animals in the house as a general rule. I believe that one of the purposes of thousands of years of civilization was to keep the animals away from us. I regard other people’s pets with indifference at best. St. Francis I am not.
But I don’t actively pursue cruelty to animals, either. “The righteous man regards the life of his beast”, the Proverbs tell us. And so I find myself disturbed at a rather alarming trend in my life, that of roadkill.
Now I’ve ran over my fair share of animals in my day. I put about 3-400 highway miles a week on my car, and it only takes about that week for my car to develop a fine patina of dead bugs. I’ve killed so many bugs with my car, I feel like I could have wiped out whole subspecies. I have hit a lot of mice and squirrels, and I ran over a pretty big jackrabbit a while back (the rabbits all seem to stare at me now). This morning, I went out to the car and was extremely disturbed to see an entire actual bird in the grill of my car.
So I was already a little bit rattled when I drove down to Rocky Ford on some church business tonight. There was a thunderstorm out, and the wet must have brought the animals out, because I think I hit six mice on the road on the trip. And on the way back, I hit a raccoon.
Stephen King once wrote a horror story about huge vicious rats, but he really needn’t have billed it as a horror story, because such things exist, and they’re called raccoons. This ‘coon was right in the middle of my lane, and I followed my well-honed instinct to never swerve to miss an animal on a rainy night while driving 70 MPH. This particular beast was probably the biggest ‘coon I’ve ever seen. Perhaps the horror of the moment has inflated my memory, but it was two feet tall at the top of his back, and probably weighed over a hundred pounds.
It made quite a revolting wet thud when I hit it, much as a large dog or Paris Hilton might, were you to run into one of them. Actually, the use of the subjunctive in the previous sentence is not entirely accurate. I should have said, “the sound a large dog makes when you hit one.” I did run over a good-sized dog once, and that was in fact the most expensive animal I have ever killed with my car. I speak not of the replacement cost, for I have no idea what a raccoon would cost you to replace, were you so inclined. But hitting the dog cost me a headlight, as well as a half-days work off to go to court to get a completely ridiculous ticket dismissed. I have, for the record, never run over Paris Hilton.
But the raccoon was especially disturbing. The things just look evil, for one thing, and it was staring straight at me when I hit it. It broke some piece of underlayment of some sort under my car, which I hope is either non-essential or cheap to replace. And after the raccoon, I saw a deer standing on the side of the road, looking at me, as if daring me to cross that particular karmic line.
Speaking of karma, I’m glad I don’t believe in reincarnation. Otherwise, I would be terrified that I, Arthur Dent-like, was continually killing the same person, in whatever reincarnated form he took, over and over.
I can’t wait to see the Google hits this post brings. “Paris Hilton karmic roadkill”