Me. I killed a squirrel.
Oh, not with my bare hands or anything, but with my big, dumb car. Okay, technically, it was animal control, not the car, but let’s not split hairs. I’m the one wracked with guilt and shame and a deep, abiding sorrow I can’t shake. Serves me right, too. I’m a cold-blooded assassin.
You see, fall is the busy season for squirrels. Duh, right? Between hiding their nuts and looting the bird feeders, their days are packed. Winter’s coming, so there’s no time to waste. They dash here and there, hither and yon, they zig and they zag from sunup to sundown. That’s what squirrels do. It’s their job and they take it seriously. Have you ever seen one stroll or saunter or dawdle? No, you have not. They have one speed: scamper.
And that’s exactly what this guy was doing that fateful morning. He was scampering. Sure, at first he was cavorting and larking, but then he saw my car. He froze, then panicked. Into the road he darted, changed his mind and made a headlong dash for the curb. He’d be alive today if only he’d stayed there, but he made one last, desperate charge for the road.
I swerved and stabbed the brakes, but to no avail. The furry little dude was badly injured; he couldn’t get up. I wanted to call an ambulance. I wanted to fix him. I wanted him to pop back up and scurry home. With a woeful and heavy heart I called animal control. They came and whisked him away. I watched the truck until it disappeared in the distance.
At lunch, I called to check on him, hoping against hope he survived. He hadn’t.
The woman on the phone was as kind as she could be, but the news hit me like a punch. I couldn’t breathe for the sadness. I should send flowers, I thought; take a casserole to the family, set up a roadside memorial. I should go to confession or turn myself in to authorities, something. Anything.
In the end, I just sat down and cried.
The thing is, I attribute human characteristics to stuff. To me, everything has a personality, it has thoughts and feelings and speaks English. Whether it’s an animal, a bug, a car, a toy, it’s as real as I am. That’s not good. Or healthy. Hell, I get all weepy when my car’s towed. Hoisted in the air like that, only two wheels touching the ground, it looks helpless and pitiful — isn’t that nuts? That’s nuts.
I’m supposed to feel that way about humans. But, curiously, I don’t. Them I objectify. Besides, humans are supposed to have brains; they can take care of themselves. They don’t need me to protect them, to fight their battles. Unless they’re really old or really young, then I’m there.
Everyone else is on their own.
Forgive me, buddy :’ (
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