He threw the truck in park and switched on the four-way flashers. The SUV behind him at the light honked its horn when he got out of the truck. Teenagers crammed into the sedan in the left-turn lane pointed and laughed. He put his body between them and the object of their ridicule.
A gray squirrel trembled on the white line, its tail cemented to the pavement by a passing tire. He clucked soothingly to the pitiful rodent, gently stroking its head while he broke the bond its mangled tail held with the road. He cupped the creature in his hand.
The teens quieted then gunned the engine as the light changed to green. The impatient SUV again honked before edging around his truck just before the light changed to amber.
He looked into the squirrel's eyes; snapped its neck. The light turned red. He carefully folded the carcass in a clean paint rag and tucked it among the paint cans in the truck bed.
Once home in his driveway, he grabbed a box of 10-penny nails from the truck, dumped the remainder of its contents into a paint pail and fitted the rag-draped body into the now-empty container.
The shovel took only one motion to excavate enough earth to plant the squirrel. As he covered the tiny coffin with dirt he whispered, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
Causes Jodi Thompson Supports
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee