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The Rest of the Story

Saturday 04/30/2005 9:50 AM

Some time after the sad story of The Most Cruel Death of Belladonna, we witnessed a string of tragic events on our block.

We live on the corner of Terrace Street and Seventh Avenue, which folks in the neighborhood refer to as I-7. This is because even though the posted speed limit along Seventh is 30 miles per hour, drivers scream down the one way road on their way from the east side of town to the west. As Tallahassee has grown and traffic has coagulated, Seventh Avenue and its ilk (the other neighborhood streets trapped between major artery roadways) have become lessons in tolerance for those of us who live among them.

One night, Candy and I were coming home from dinner, and our headlight beams caught a diminuitive glimpse of calico darting across the road. We were 100 feet from the house, so Candy pulled into the carport, and I jumped out and ran back down the street. It was a Friday night and there was a steady stream of cars coming toward me. I tried my best to Frogger my way across, but it was already too late.

I put my hands up so the next car coming in the far lane would slow down, and then I ran into the road and scooped up the limp, little ball of fur.

Cradling the bloody kitten in my arms, I made my way back to the house. After showing Candy what happened, I put it in a large Ziploc bag until morning.

The next day, I left the dogs at home and took the Ziploc bag and a shovel to The Asylum. After The Most Cruel Death of Belladonna, we had place to bury dead cats and there was plenty of room for this little one.

Once I got there, I made my way into the center of the abandoned and overgrown grounds at The Asylum, near where that door is and the cinderblock wall remainders of whatever building it was attached to. The ground was hard to work with the shovel because of the chaotic network of roots just below the surface, but if you had been there, you would have seen me jumping up and down on the shovel and slowly chipping my way through. Finally, there was a big enough hole and in it I laid the plastic bag and its single, stiff occupant.

Then it was like winding the tape backwards as I used the shovel to put the dirt and roots back into the hole. Once most of it was in there, I scraped the shovel across the unbroken ground around the tiny grave and swept (as best I could) the remaining dirt into the hole.

You know what happened next: My feet versus the cinderblock walls in a series of vicious stomps. The dry and crumbly cement glue holding them together didn't stand a chance and, in a matter of minutes, surrendered to me the pieces for my second concrete tombstone.

The idea was, at first, purely utilitarian. Once the body starts to smell, the cinderblocks will disuade any of the indigenous wildlife from grave robbing. But it quickly became more than that. Let's make it interesting. What if someone — hobo, drunk or errant youth — walks back here sometime? What will run through their mind when they see concrete crosses laid over freshly dug ground?

Think of it as my little way to contribute to the atmosphere here at The Asylum.

So there I was, putting the finishing touches on Cross Number Two, but, little did I know, there was more grave digging ahead for me.

File Under: Asylum, The; Cemeteries; Writing Sample
Music: Jolie Holland "Escondida"

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