I was young, once, filled with Dum Dums and high hopes. I was a boy with puppy hands and kitten allergies. Swollen eyes were a token of my interspecial love. I liked four legs instead of two, rug burn, and bruised knees. I thought if I tried hard enough, got low and squat, wiggled my nose and Charlestoned my limbs, a bunny might two-step towards me instead of going tharn. At eight I tried to stop my friend’s mother from brushing a chipmunk off the porcelain, into the water, and down the steel. It was just before my trip to Disney. I never told Chip or Dale. I was a squirrel whisperer with a loud voice. I was Eliza Thornberry without a shaman, or a pet monkey, or an RV. In actuality, I was a child. In truth, a suburban rat, a rodent scavenging for morals I never found the chance to test. I loved animals. I’d give my life for theirs. Fuck man. Fuck people. What have they done wrong that we haven’t collared and clipped and fenced into their genes?
There was a scenario in my head, the way British people say the word. It was a delusional, a toy filled fantasy, how I thought I would behave given the chance. I would be in a car, definitely not driving, probably in the front seat because my parents allowed that. E12 Beamer or Maxima Acura, your pick. Enter animal. For population’s sake, a deer. Freeze frame. Here’s what happens. We strike it, but it doesn’t die. It crowned from the blackness of suburbia like a king, hunted by asphalt and high beam lights. Night usurped by day. Flashes of antiqued green. Down goes Frazier. Engines revved for the K.O. That was any scenario. But this is mine. This is my show. This is where I shined. I was the referee taking bribes for the fight. I was the veterinarian saving another animal from hitting the streets. I would stop the car. I would save the injured deer. I would nurse it back to health and watch it dash for the trees. I rescued it. I revived it. I gave it life. Shit was all me, sewing guts from being hide. And yi-ba-dee yi-ba-dee that’s all folks. That was my the scenario. That was the script. Applause. Raise the lights. Take a bow. Stop the reel. But childhood dreams only happen on silver screens.
I usually don’t speed, go a steady 45, but the prospect of graduation fills a kid with top 100 hits. Ke$ha’s word (pronounced Ke-Ching-a’s word) is gospel that kids used to think of as mom and dad. Do the dishes. Wash the car. How about follow her lead. Things have changed. Cars are faster. Roads wind tighter, and time flies faster. I was in a rush. To where? And to what? Windows down. Moon roof open. Hat cocked up to where the tilt says I’m fly. No sun, no twilight, no residual glare. It was the time where the sun hears echos of lullabies and the birds become shadows and fly home to roost. Birds. Flying home. Returning to the place from which I run. Or drive and rev and hit them on their way.
I don’t remember flinching, but my shoulders pressed tighter to the leather and the sweat. I don’t remember flinching. I must have pressed on the gas. It snuck into consciousness like an older brother in a good dream. Waking you from the ice cream. Or cars. Or girls, or birds. It was a pigeon. Grey. Nothing dazzling or white. It was flying with me for a second, until it kissed the hood and shrank. I don’t remember flinching. I don’t remember hitting the brakes. I don’t remember flapping or a dogfight escape. I don’t remember seeing it. I don’t remember the dark spot in the road. But it was. And it flapped. And I hit it with Ke$ha and 2,500 lbs of steel.
You think for a second, wondering if that was you. That dumbmuthafucking driver shoulda looked beyond the wheel. Then it hits you. Hits your hood. Hits your grill, right between your teeth. Bird style, pigeon style, and pecks your gizzard out. It was you. That was you. The dead bird was me. I hit it. I killed it. And the entrails tell the truth.
I didn’t stop. That’s the simplest way of putting things. Who would hold it on the way back; who would nurse its broken wing? And bird’s have blood. If I were with someone, I would have stopped. That’s the convenient way of framing things. It was the occasion, the strange twilight. The fact that summer wasn’t here or there. It was residual high school. The gas. The time. Teenage boy plus injured pigeon. Just didn’t add up.
I can kill, not by choice, but by incident, by cowardice. I can hit a pigeon, hang out with my friends, and lay in bed wondering if it left a dent. I can laugh about it, kid about it, know that it was a pigeon instead of a dog or deer or kid. Or a kid. Or a child. Something worth hitting the hood and reaching to pound the keys. But I’m not that someone. Who says I’ll do what’s right? I killed and animal, and I didn’t stop. I justified my inaction by the magnitude of life. I’m not who I thought I was. I am capable of death. Person. Feline. Rodent. Fowl. Hit and run. Check the mirror. Is it dead? Nope, just beating the asphalt, pro-wrestler style with its wing. Stop? Maybe next time. Ding ding ding. My chance is up.