06 October 2007


I live across the street from a significant cemetery, the final resting place of a number of nineteenth-century notables, most famously John D. Rockefeller and James A. Garfield (Ephs, represent! Or, um, not!).

One day, as I walked to work, I saw a woman walking on the other side of the street along the cemetery walls. She seemed to be in something of a hurry, but she was a short, somewhat elderly woman, so I was keeping up with her. From a distance, at least, she appeared relatively normal -- not dressed in rags or visibly crazy. Except for the fact the she was carrying a dead raccoon by the tail.

On the one hand, I wanted to cross the street and get a closer look. On the other hand, I wanted to stay as far away from this woman as possible. For a block or so, it wasn't clear where she was going, but when the two of us had both reached the intersection where the ornamental stone gates of the cemetery are, it was clear: she was taking the dead raccoon into the graveyard.

The obvious scenario is that she was going to try to bury to the thing somehow. But there are other possibilities: maybe she was going to leave the corpse as an offering to her departed, roadkill-loving spouse? Or maybe she was going to feed it to the pack of wild dogs or cougars of something that roam the cemetery at night. Or perhaps it was just part of a black-witchcraft ceremony. Who knows.

In any case, I was so enthralled with the woman that, just as she disappeared into the gates, I almost ran headlong into in a young black kid walking in an oversized sweatshirt towards me in the opposite direction. He wasn't watching where he was going either, since he too was staring at the roadkill-undertaker. "Did you see that?!" he asked, as if to confirm the he hadn't just imagined it.

"That..." I replied, momentarily at a loss for words, "...was disgusting."