Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thanks for the memories -- Anon and the Dead Cat

I don't actually remember your name. Perhaps it's because you didn't live in my neighborhood for very long. Perhaps it's because your familial name became substantially tarnished after you left unexpectedly, in the middle of the night. Later I overheard my father telling someone your father had paid for the new family home with a "bum" check. I can imagine buying groceries or clothes with funny money but buying a house with a bunko check takes a lot chutzpah. I guess it sort of goes along with helping your dad steal "swamp coolers" off people's roofs to resell. You told me about that. Frankly, there just can't be too much money in that business.

The day I most clearly recall you, we were exploring an "abandoned" house in our mutual neighborhood, our kiddy kingdom. I don't think we'd managed to break in to the locked-up building yet, we were still in the backyard where the lawn had grown deep and dark and thick. I remember it was a late afternoon with long shadows and no one had traipsed into that yard before us to knock down a path through the green grass. We were adventurers charting our own course in a spooky urban "forest" when we saw an odd furry lump nearly buried in the weeds. I can't say which of us decided the furry lump needed to be poked but I do recall finding a long stick — one certainly didn't want to get too close to whatever it was — and poking the clump of fur.

The hair covered skin slid off like an old lady in a fur coat slipping on an icy path. Neither one of us expected the cat's skin to slide away so easily. Nor did either of us expect to see such an incredibly lively mass of movement as the thousands of maggots that were feasting on the cat's corpse desperately recoiled from the air and the sunlight. Frightening as it was, that wasn't actually the worst part of our adventure — not even close. The worst part was the incredible, eye-burning, gut wrenching stench that immediately overpowered us both and left us gasping, violently retching and running desperately away from the horror and disgust of such corruption. We went separate ways. There's only so much space in a day for that much decay.

©April 4, 2010 Fred Dodsworth (originally written Feb 7, 2003)

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