Birds, Rats & Other Dead Things

Either we’ve got a biblical-style apocalypse coming on slowly or I am causing things to die with my funereal presence, since in the last two days, I’ve dealt with more death of woodland critters than I’d care to.

Yesterday morning, my dog and I were on our morning constitutional, you know, the walk where I anxiously wait for her to stop sniffing things and actually do her business so I can get some much-needed coffee in my gullet and make my inexorable way to work.

Anyway, as dog was busy sniffing and not businessing, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye followed by a THUNK. I looked to where the thunking happened and saw a dead bird in the middle of car hood. This was not a freshly dead bird who did its death spiral out of the sky before me. This dead had been going on for a while. The little dead bird had definitely seen better days, sometime around a week ago I reckon.

Naturally, I looked up to see where a not-recently-departed bird might have fallen from, but there were no trees or even power lines above the car. It’s a mystery! The only conclusion I can come to is apocalypse.

Or perhaps a crow–notorious for eating pretty much anything–decided that old meat was still meat and was carrying little dead bird back to its lair for a snack, when halfway there, it said, screw this, I can get only slightly fresher meat at 7-11 and dropped it on the car hood.

7-11: Our meat is slightly fresher than a week-old dead bird!
Our meat is slightly fresher than a week-old dead bird!

I felt badly for whomever’s car that was. When they came outside to find a dead bird squarely in the middle of their bonnet, they probably assumed that someone in the neighborhood was trying to send them a message. I thought about leaving a note saying, “I saw this bird fall on your hood from nowhere. No one hates you. Well, I can’t say that for sure, but if someone does hate you, they didn’t express that hatred by leaving a dead bird on your car. The dead bird’s presence was all nature and shit,” but I didn’t have pencil and paper on me.

Last night on the evening constitutional with my dog, I killed a snail. I’m ashamed to admit, it wasn’t the first time I’ve murdered a snail. One of my neighbors waters his lawn entirely too much for a drought (I’ve thought of dropping a dime on him, but I don’t know who to call). There are a ridiculous number of snails in his yard because wet. His sprinklers go off almost every night before I normally walk my dog. The snails in his yard, being all “Wee! It’s dark and wet!” go on their constitutionals around that time, too.

If you’ve never really encountered a snail, they’re a dumb design. They move so very slowly that they can’t possibly duck or dodge anything, they are just about the same color as a wet sidewalk and their tough exterior shell is really not tough at all. I am always wary of snail steppage when I walk at night, because like I said, I’ve crushed one underfoot before and I like to avoid unpleasant experiences whenever possible.

Last night, I zigged to avoid one snail only to find another: zig, zag, CRUNCH, crap! Poor snail. I really need to get a flashlight.

On this morning’s constitutional, I thought all was going well; I avoided the area where I had murdered the snail the night before, so I hadn’t run afoul of any carcasses. We had done all of our morning sniffing and business and were on the way to the dumpster to deposit said business, when in front of my garage, I spied a suspect object. Jesum crow.

It was a large rat curled up in a rather fetal position. I hoped maybe it was sleeping. It wasn’t. I thought of leaving it there and making it someone else’s problem, until I realized that it died smack dab in front of my garage. I did the calculations in my head and found that I would run it over when I backed my car out in about twenty minutes. Well, shit.

Meanwhile, my dog, who is as picky about meat as a crow or 7-11 customer, was trying to get at the thing. I don’t know much about nature, but I suspect that letting my dog snack on a dead wild rat probably isn’t the best idea. I would have a hard time prying it from her mouth and prying a dead rat from my dog’s mouth first thing in the morn is not something I’d generally like to do.

I’m not afraid of rats. In fact, I’ve had three of them as pets: Race, Plague and Fink. Still, there’s a world of difference between the domesticated kind of rats you keep as pets and the wild kind of rats you find dead in your driveway.

I decided to dispose of the thing. I pulled out another poop bag and cursed that I don’t have a pooper scooper, which would have made the whole affair much less personal. Keeping my dog at the end of one arm and with a poop bag over my other hand, I picked the thing up by the tail. It was cold. I carried it at arm’s length without looking at it the twenty feet to the dumpster. Then I went inside and frantically scrubbed my hands with antibacterial soap like a crazed germaphobe to get all the bubonic plague off. I can still feel its cold little tail between my fingers. Ewww.

I don’t live in the country. If I did, those unfortunate vignettes might be excusable, even commonplace. No, I live in Los Angeles, the megalopolis of glass, concrete and steel where green is an afterthought called landscaping. If I go home tonight to find another dead animal, I’m moving to the country where things like that don’t happen.