Through The Looking Glass: Death Throes!

I’ve always liked Lewis Carroll’s idea of the world seen in a mirror being another world entirely, one with, shall we say, relaxed laws of physics and probability. The world turned upside down and inside-out!

I passed into a milder mirror-version of my world yesterday. I arrived at the loading dock to pick up my bundles of newspapers and my boss took me aside:

“Larry, that woman at 1049 has been complaining again. She said you were late with the Sunday paper, and once again she called my boss rather than me! I know that occasionally there are unavoidable delays, but we need to keep that woman happy somehow!”

I explained to him why I had been running late, a story involving a 30 MPH wind gust and a bundle of slippery and glossy advertising inserts.

My boss looked pensive. He said, “Why don’t you try running the route backwards? That way that woman would be near the beginning of the route rather than the end.”

I thought this over. It would make for a weird day, but what the heck, I said I’d give it a try.

It was so strange trying to mentally reverse a spatial pattern which was so well-entrenched in my mind. I learned that houses and landmarks can look very different when approached from another direction! I had to stop and explain to a few customers who were accustomed to getting the paper at a certain time.

“Larry, what are you doing here so early! It’s only 12:30!”

I wrote recently about encountering a raccoon which behaved oddly and nearly running the creature over with my truck. Yesterday I drove by the area where I had encountered that ‘coon and saw a furry lump by the side of the road. It wasn’t moving and I assumed the beast had died during the night. A few minutes later I returned after a delivery and saw that the ‘coon was writhing, looking as if it was in its death throes. I stopped the truck and regarded the suffering animal through the open window. I couldn’t see its head:

I got out of the truck and walked around to the other side of the writhing ‘coon. I squatted down and watched for a while. I felt so sorry for that ‘coon! It was trying to cover its eyes with its hands as if the sunlight was painful. The ‘coon’s mouth was twisted in that rictus common to all mammals when death and pain make an unwelcome visit:

Rarely have I witnessed a wild animal or bird in the process of dying. Normally they try to find a secluded spot out of sight. I considered killing the animal, following that time-honored custom: “putting it out of its misery”. With what, though? A tire iron as bludgeon? The heel of my boot? My pocket knife?

I decided against it, as there existed a possibility that the ‘coon was just having a really bad day and would recover. I really don’t enjoy killing animals.

I also didn’t want to be late with my deliveries. An imaginary scenario, my boss again confronting me:

“So what happened yesterday, Larry? We had three calls about you being late!”

“Well, there was this raccoon I had to kill, and it wasn’t easy!”




Filed under Essays and Articles, Photos, Quincy, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Through The Looking Glass: Death Throes!

  1. bev

    When I drive homeward to the east along the same route I took to get down to the southwest, I am often amazed at how different things can look, especially large rock formations, but also towns, buildings and other landmarks. Somewhat disorienting.
    I never quite know what to do if an animal is seen behaving weirdly. If you were in Canada, you would probably call the local Ministry of Natural Resources office and they would come out, capture the raccoon and it would be destroyed and tested for rabies. When I lived in the Ottawa area, someone would actually come out from the federal Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI) to collect the animal. Non-rabies animals were dispatched by the local police department. A couple of deer with broken legs met that fate along the highway in front of our farm. if it is an illness, as you have noted, some animals do recover and so it seems a shame to put them down if they would get over their problem on heir own. Always a tough call though.

  2. Joan

    Years ago we were visiting relatives in Canton, IL. My cousin found a dead racoon on the side of the road which had been hit by a car. He rescued the babies from its pouch and tried to feed them with a doll’s milk bottle. . They did not last long. That ‘deer in the headlights’ expression must cover a lot of wild animals. Didn’t you just spend time last week dodging one?

  3. Joan

    Concerning the route. Does that mean more gas spent, or is the route in a circle? I’m wondering now if you won’t have complaints from the people at the other end who are used to their papers being there at a certain time. It might be easier just to start earlier.

    You know that’s one thing that is nice about city delivery. Although you might have to rescue your paper from the neighbor’s lawn (or dog) once in awhile, you at least know that it has been delivered because it’s visible right there in the front yard.

  4. About the same amount of gas. I can’t start earlier, as I need to take newspapers with me. When they appear on the dock is when I can leave.

    Any customer to whom it would matter I’ve already talked with.

  5. Pakistani Boy, I saw the raccoon definitely dead in the middle of the road this afternoon (the next day).

    It’s the same ‘coon, Joan, as I stated above!

  6. Joan

    So it seems to be, Larry. Unless there is a family of them somewhere near. Maybe it had already been struck the first time you encountered it and just couldn’t make it to the side of the road.
    At any rate, I’m hoping it had no babies in its pouch.
    Well, if the new route means more pictures then bon voyage!

  7. Darrell

    It may have been rabid. It’s late in the year for rabies, but raccoons are major transmitters of the disease.

  8. BTW, raccoons don’t have pouches, Joan. You are thinking of our sole marsupial, the possum.

  9. Joan

    Ooops! Well, at least I had it right that it was road kill.(grin) You can sure tell I’m not rural. Actually I never saw the animal my cousin found..just the infortunate babies that were brought home .

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