Fear and loathing on the North Shore.

He came darting out suddenly toward my right front tire – fearful, nervous, yet determined. Much the same as me around that god-forsaken rotary that spews people out gratefully like paint from a Spin Art machine.

It was an edgy, hostile day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, nature herself had just reaffirmed the disturbed restlessness with a little 6.8 temper tantrum. It occurs to me now that the critter no doubt felt the quake and was frightened enough to run out of the brush and into the road, exhibiting similar poor judgment as much of the northeast that day.

I was oblivious to the unsettled ground, being unsettled myself by an aggressive dick in a white minivan who zoomed out into the rotary ahead of me, in the other lane. Arrogance and hostility permeated the air like a thick stench. As I was attempting to block that out – eyeing my prize, my lone road away from the city’s madness – my poor furry pet made his fatal move.

I saw him just then, fascinated and flustered, swerving and braking to avoid him, as I tried to make a positive ID. Squirrel? Nope. Cat or dot? No and no; definitely not. Rat or raccoon? No. Possum? Wrong color.

I watched as he continued running in front of my car and across the other lane, and in what couldn’t have been more than three seconds, an agonizing lifetime. The sight – and horrible sound – of the poor creature getting carelessly and thoughtlessly run down, as someone would drive over a piece of discarded trash. A living, breathing soul, gone. Just like that, in a fleeting second. The worst of it, even more horrible than seeing close-up and in technicolor, was the godawful crunching sound of tiny bones being crushed, which gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. My emotional reaction was not sadness and tears, but unbridled anger. I felt myself willing this insensitive beast a similar fate.

This is no place for a gentle soul. If you can’t keep up with the manic pace, you’re crushed and left for dead. Road kill.

The van continued on obliviously and dove suddenly into the first driveway off the rotary, some parking lot for the beach, which raised my ire even more. Had he beaten me out, only to turn right in front of me? My high opinion of human nature didn’t allow me the thought that perhaps his reflexes weren’t as fast as mine, given his rate of speed, and now he was experiencing a sudden wave of remorse and grief at having taken an innocent life. Could it be? Nah.

Clumsy oaf of a human in your stinky, ugly, gas-guzzling minivan, may you in your next lifetime come back as a helpless and frightened little animal, running across the road in fear.

And dear, sweet, rodent-like whatever, may you have a safe and swift journey to your next life, and reincarnate – but only just briefly – as a stupid human, with a really big truck. Just long enough for karmic retribution.

Those were my thoughts as I drove down the causeway with the gulls crying overhead, on my way home.

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