The Death of Muskrat

I know being stuck at home with quarantine and social distancing can start to feel old and mundane. But I am here to share a story that shows even home can be an exciting place to be.

It started Thursday night when I happened to notice some animal had been hit by a car across the street from the end of my driveway. I did a double take, hoping it wasn’t someone’s cat or small dog, and once I determined it was only a muskrat, I didn’t give it much thought, assuming the road crew, or whomever was in charge of disposing of road kill would be along eventually to do their thing.

Last evening, the dogs and I went out in the yard for our nightly game of ball, when Ember suddenly perked up and took off toward the end of the driveway. I turned to see a crow take off at the same time, and caught up to Ember just as both she and I realized the birds had picked up the muskrat and decided to use the end of my yard as their dining table for their dinner.

I grabbed Ember just as she grabbed hold of a piece of Muskrat’s innards that apparently seemed too appealing to leave.

And I was left with no choice but to yank them out of her mouth and throw them back to the birds.

Needless to say, the rest of the evening was spent with her visiting every window, trying to convince me to let her out to finish her dessert, and me trying to recover from the forced, and way too up close encounter with dead things, and trying to decide if I could make do without that contaminated hand for the rest of my life.

That would have been bad enough, but of course the story doesn’t end there.

This morning, I get up, hopeful that the crows and turkey vultures, have finished their dinner, and cleaned the remains from the dining table that is my lawn.

But of course they haven’t, and Muskrat lay right where he was left.

And now it’s Saturday, so even if I wanted to call the town office and ask how to get in touch with the roadkill crew, there is no way to do this until Monday.

So I am forced to take matters into my own hands, and find myself out on my lawn with a shovel and a Hefty bag, cleaning up Muskrat’s remains. I decide I have little choice but to make my first trip to the dump in my new home town.

Not only is this my first trip to the dump, but also my first experience dealing with road kill, so I really have no idea what proper protocol is, and as I pull in, I stop at the attendant station to explain the situation and figure out where I’m supposed to take poor Muskrat.

“I don’t think we take road kill here” is the response I get.

“Well, what am I supposed to do with it then?”

” You can talk to the boss. That’s him right over there”

I walk over to The Boss, and again explain the situation.

And again get “We don’t take roadkill here” as the response.

And again I ask “What am I supposed to do with it then?”

“You can bury it”

“Where?”

“Just in your yard”

Planning a Muskrat funeral was not exactly top of my to-do list for the day. And starting an animal graveyard in my yard is not a very appealing option. I’m tempted to ask why, if my yard is an acceptable burial site, the dump is not, but I refrain.

” I can’t bury it in my yard. I have dogs”

“Yeah, if you have dogs, they’ll dig it up.”

I blink at him.

“You could just throw it across to the other side of the road” he replies with a shrug.

I give him the head tilt and more blinks, because I’m truly at a loss as how to reply to that.

I turn to walk back to my car to figure out a plan B, and as I pass the attendant shack, the lady I first spoke to, asked what The Boss had said to do. I told her he was not very helpful, and I was still unsure how I was supposed to dispose of Muskrat.

“Just take it to the woods and dump it. That’s what the cops would do if you called them. I hit a baby deer once and that’s all they did. Let the other animals take care of it”

I don’t know what else to say but to thank her and get back in my car.

I’ve watched enough mob movies to know that a car driving into the woods and tossing a Hefty bag out of the back, or digging a grave to bury a bundle is never viewed as suspicious activity. But that seems to be the only option I am left with.

Had I known how quickly my life would devolve into the seedy underbelly today, I would have had more coffee this morning.

And this is how I find myself driving deep into the woods and disposing of Muskrat in an unmarked grave, wondering again how I landed in the role of clean-up in the death of Muskrat, and if “the dump people made me do it” will hold up under future questioning.

RIP poor Muskrat. RIP.

One thought on “The Death of Muskrat

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