Atonement

Follow her because she knows where all the bodies are buried.

The puffs of dust from her claws crawl toward me in the head wind. Up she goes, effortless. Her course is often winding, a serpentinian escalator of scents and things we’ll never sense. Covering ground at all costs because that is what she does. I’ll cut all of the corners and walk a straight line behind her. My eyes dart toward the horizon, the dog, and side to side, repeating all day long.

She pauses for a little too long. I quicken my steps to reach her point of interest. She’s found one of the bodies. A yearling deer. A victim of winter kill that had been picked apart by the coyotes and carrion birds. Disemboweled, beheaded, and reeking in the afternoon warmth. I’ve seen hundreds of these scenes in the mountains, but this one stuck out.

One eye was whole. Completely untouched by the crows, ravens, and magpies. Left all seeing by the eagles, vultures, and badgers. Why would they leave one eye? It’s usually at the top of the carcass menu. I could see my reflection in the black mirror. I tried to close it but the lids were frozen by the cold and rigor mortis. I reached in my shirt pocket and found a quarter. The shiny prize of any corvid, they would surely eat that monstrous eye once they spotted the treasure above it. I bent down and stuck the 1998 quarter on the cold black eye.

In high school I glued polished quarters to the sidewalk outside of our boring chemistry class. I spent the 90 minutes of lecture watching the feathered apes work and howl at the quarters. I felt bad for wasting their time. I imagined one of those crows swooping down to the alluring glare on the carcass and receiving a shiny treasure and a carrion delicacy. A small gesture of atonement for being a depraved youth.

The dog started to initiate a roll into the deers remains, but a swift kick to the ass sent her back up the hill. I kept walking up after her, eyes darting less to the sides and the dog and the horizon, and more to the glaring quarter that shone over everything.

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4 responses to “Atonement

Rabble Amongst Yerselves or Holler Back

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