So maybe you know the old Loudon Wainright III song Dead Skunk:

Crossing the highway late last night
He should’ve looked left and he should’ve looked right
He didn’t see the station wagon car
The skunk got squashed and there you are!

You got your
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin’ to high Heaven!

Well, replace “road” with “driveway” and “skunk” with “turtle” and you’ll know how my morning went. Today’s the first day I’ve taken off since I got back from our mini family reunion in Chattanooga, TN. (I know, I owe you a blog post about that, the new job, and so many more things that have been happening. I’ll try.)

I took Mom to get her hair done this morning. After we got back, I pulled up next to the house to help her in, then as I backed into my usual parking spot I hit something. I got out and went around back, cursing because I thought I had left Mom’s walker back there or something.

Nope. It was a turtle. Or maybe I should say an ex-turtle. His shell was crushed and some of his guts were starting to come out. Sorry to be so graphic.

I’ve mentioned before that I have an affinity for turtles. You know how some faiths believe that we have animal guides or totems? Well, if I have one I’m pretty sure it’s a turtle. I tend to work slowly and methodically (which is part of the reason why I’m no longer a WalMart drone), even though I’m intelligent it takes me a while to get some things, but like the tortoise in the old fable, I keep going and I try not to get discouraged or give up.

So I felt like I had just squished one of my animal brothers. I started crying and saying “I’m so sorry.” I borrowed a shovel from my sister next door and went to scrape him up, when I did he moved a little like he might still have been alive. That did it, I really lost it. Crying like a baby, I carried him around to the woodsy area in the back yard. I tearfully said “I’m sorry” over and over as I performed the coup de grâce, severing his little head with the end of the shovel to put him out of his misery. He (or she) belongs to the earth now, the circle of life continues.

It makes me cry even now as I write this. I know it happens all the time on the roads, hence all the “Turtle Crossing” signs, but this one got to me.

All I can say is, I’m sorry. I hope you’ll still be my animal guide.


9 thoughts on “Dead _____ in the Middle of the _____

  1. No joke, I would’ve been devastated too. You definitely did the right thing by cutting the head off. I, too, would’ve done that. In a way, I think that critter musta been a very special little fellow; there’s not many turtles that can say their passing made a grown man weep.

    Dedicated to Joe’s turtle, for one night only…

    forget it

    now, listen, when I die I don’t want any crying, just get the
    disposal under way, I’ve had a full some life, and
    if anybody has had an edge, I’ve
    had it, I’ve lived 7 or 8 lives in one, enough for
    we are all, finally, the same, so no speeches, please,
    unless you want to say he played the horses and was very
    good at that.

    you’re next and I already know something you don’t,

    By Charles Bukowski

  2. Aww… I’m sorry to hear that, that’s so sad, but it really was an accident. Don’t feel too bad.

    I have to say, it seems rather symbolic though; perhaps it was a way of reminding you to slow down and be aware of your surroundings. After all, god forbid, it could have been a child…

    I too identify with the turtle, and I think I read that it was my totem! It’s fitting, actually; I’m quite the slow paced hermit. ^_~

    • Shelley (BTW I just decided that’s his or her name, could be female or male ie Duvall or Berman) will always serve to remind me to slow down.

  3. I’m so sorry. The turtle is in a better place now, I’m sure . . a heaven of crisp greens and slow hares.

    I’m going to keep quiet with all the inappropriate jokes that come to mind in respect for your grief.

    • Inappropriate jokes? You mean like “Instead of Shelley you should’ve named him Speed Bump.”
      “Today’s special: Roadkill Turtle Soup.”
      “Why did the turtle cross the road? To get the f#%& away from Joe.”
      Jokes like that? Yes, keep them to yourself young lady 😉

  4. Dear Joe,
    These days I know all about hurting for good reasons and bad reasons and no reason at all. I have come to what I consider to be a very practical conclusion…. It is what it is. There is no amount of contemplation that can lead to understanding or even just eventually sorta’ figuring things out.
    What happened today wasn’t something you would have chosen, but unfortunately, most times we don’t get to pick.
    I hope this particular memory disappears quickly for you and doesn’t make any encores.

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