So, about that dead cat

26 02 2008

I hate running over animals. In addition to it being sad, it’s also really disgusting sometimes. In my car, it’s incredibly easy to smash the life out of animals of all shapes and sizes, as long as the sizes don’t exceed “medium house cat”. The car I drive right now, a 1982 Caprice Classic–oh you know it, baby–and the one before it, a 1989 Buick Regal was, I’m convinced, specifically designed to be a mammal swatter. I’ve hit rabbits, cats, armadilloes, squirrels, skunks, racoons… A horse. You name it, I’ve probably accidentally killed it with my giant granny car. Except for the horse, which totalled out my old car, I’ve never even put so much as a ding on my car.

Well, for the sake of full disclosure, I admit I’ve never hit a dog. I like to count that as a blessing, something that keeps my karma somewhat level. But I have hit a bird. Seriously, I just snatched him right out of the sky like a Hail Mary. The poor little thing never saw what hit him. Well, I guess he didn’t. He didn’t scream or anything, even when he exploded into a cloud of red feathers.

What horrifies me is the visual and aural spectacle involved with aiding a small creature’s passing with a swiftly moving shiny chrome bumper. On the one hand, there’s the usual tire-homicide tha-thump that almost everyone is familiar with, which usually precedes either the vision of a rolling lump in the road, or a flipping cat-shaped streak darting off into the ditch. Then, on the other hand, there’s the meaty thock, that cliché big-league homerun noise that signifies a mammal’s free trip to the upper deck and points beyond. That latter one is what I’m so bothered by right now.

I was coming into town earlier when I hit a cat. It wasn’t a very big or cute cat, but it was certainly a damned fast one. I was rolling down the hill leading into town, slowing from 55 to 45, when this little brownish-gray blur shot out in front of me, running from right to left. I didn’t have time to safely hit the brakes very hard, so I tapped them twice. I guess I had gotten my speed down to around 48 before I passed the 45 mph sign. All of this was happening at once, so my memory might be a little off.

Just when I thought the little creature had made it-THOCK!-out from the left side of my bumper blasted that same brownish-gray blur, only this time it was sailing upward and slowly rotating kind of counter-clockwise. It must have jumped at the last second, because that little fucker got some air under it and rocketed, like a low inside curveball that didn’t fool a strong batter. I didn’t see where it landed, but the speed and trajectory told me that some little kid is going to wake up with a dead homerun cat in his yard.

I wonder now if I should have gone back and signed it.

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