Many moons have fallen since the courting of my bride. And the lines of age have begun to carve themselves deep, marking the years like running water through soft soil. I step more cautiously now, bearing my weight like a fragile plate spinning upon a precarious pole, because I know all too well the consequences if I falter. I’ve suffered them many times. It forces my hand to the rail.
However, there was a time. A time I sometimes long to recapture. A time when I jumped for the sake of jumping, when I risked for the rush of the rampant beating of my heart. But tomfoolery is for the young, because the young know not consequences, or they bear them much more willingly.
As I reflect, I come to realize, always, that age has not only driven me to caution, but has risen me to peace. I would not trade this peace for the thrills. Thrills are much too overrated. But still, reflection curls the edges of the mouth. It makes for rich stories, and sometimes self deprecation. A little humility is good seasoning for conversation and centers ones demeanor. So I allow the stories to unpack themselves and drift about in my thoughts.
One such dust covered tale came to me recently and I share for the sake of confession. Ridding my soul of the burden of occulation. You see, some narratives long for the light, require it to free their possessor of his shame. Repentance in the heart sometimes proves inadequate, it must be left to a jury of peers to forgive or pass on.
You, the reader, must now fill that role and do as you must in your conscience, I am willing to give you that power if, for no other reason, than to be free of my self appointed guilt.
It was moonless, dark and the humidity diffused the ambitious rays that fought their way through the atmosphere from the waning moon. My small blue chariot from the corporation of Chevy coursed harmoniously under the control of my sure hand, rolling over the back-roads of the Commonwealth of Virginia. My bride-to-be swooned at the skill of her man as I took her to the edge of calamity and back again.
We sailed on in this bliss until, with no warning, came the auditory evidence of a brute strike to a forrest dweller as it tumbled helpless through my undercarriage. A scream. A wiff of burnt rubber. And sudden unwelcome silence.
I had done it. I had stricken a helpless creature and the echos of its demise still banged around in my brain. I breathed deep, trying to still my rampant heart and checked the beauty beside me. Her breath still paused in her rigid body. “It’s okay,” I assured, “maybe he had cancer or something.”
She looked at me disdained. The darkness of that wooded country emptiness closed in around us, as I clamored for any action that would right things again. I had nothing.
Slowly, I turned to check our wake for the carcass. There it lay, not 20 yards behind. A nut brown bunny.
“What is it?” she squeaked.
I knew I could not let her see it. I would be forever tied to that lifeless pile of plush brown cuteness with its one good ear still raised as if waving. I looked to her, and back again to the carnage. Then the unthinkable happened. It moved!
It was still alive and suddenly the stakes were now double. Suffering would multiply my offense.
Instinct took control. I was no longer an average, middle-class American teen. What made man the top of the food chain took control of my faculties. The gear changed to R. The brake released and the tires began to turn.
“What are you doing?” came the no longer melodic and dulcet voice of the girl I intended to marry. “What is going on?” she demanded.
The person who was no longer me, gritted, flooded the carburetor with fuel and closed the gap between us and the downy bunn.
I shall not burden you with descriptive text in regard to the fatal event that followed, but suffice it, that it was gruesome and life-changing.
I was met with shocked astonishment, fear and maybe a touch of disdain. But the deed was required, so I simply muttered, “It wasn’t dead.”
I clicked the shifter to D, and unfortunately rolled over what was left of the ferrel pancake.
The mood of the night was lost, and little was said as we found our way home. I was left, without so much as a goodbye, behind the wheel of the killing machine alone with my guilt.
You can call me what you will, but that night an act of mercy was required, on an ignorant creature who placed itself in harms way. I was the victim in the narrative. My hand was forced to bloodshed, and now, with the story told, I have rid myself of memory for good. Besides, I still got the girl!