Something someone said during the drive on the first day of my weekend trip. This is what it resulted in.
“There’s no secret to dying”
We drove past the abandoned construction sites in the old industrial region. It never got be one, never was urbanized or highly populated. Something about ground property they said. Local fishermen still swam the river in their creaky old boats, but the expensive buildings were only concrete skeletons erecting above the river bank. It was a dead zone, lonely and attracting the homeless and the abandoned dogs.
Though it was a cold month, the sky wearing a pale mascara of grey and white and the scenery being colorless, left without a single shade of life, a stench emerged from the waters sliding itself through the gap in the window. I rode it up separating the smell of the interior with that from outside. The scent of cheap cigarettes nested itself again, continuing to soak into the leather seats and my clothes.
The river curved and with it the road. My eyesight caught the rapid movement of dozen crows, circling around one spot of the river bank; somewhere down below where my eyes couldn’t travel and observe. I watched them, those vultures of death, the predecessors of illness. Even from the moving car I thought I could see their glass-like eyes glisten with hunger and desire to rip large pieces of meat and swallow them down their shaggy, skinny necks.
Why where they so many? A little tornado of black wings and piercing gazes.
Even with the loudness of the engine their cries penetrated the safety of the car; shouts from Hell escalating and resonating with my thoughts, confusing my senses and provoking some sort of sudden self- preservation. I yield before it for a mere moment, than I frowned, shaking away the grasp of fear. “Why are their godless pleas for wrong so easily heard; that ugly sound of laughter that chills the heart, but what is good and kind and asks for nothing more than kindness in return remains unheard, unnoticed?”
I averted my eyes.
Still the curiosity aroused by their numbers left me restless.
“Why do you think they are so many?”
My father responded with an extended “Hmm” which meant he hadn’t heard my asking.
“The crows” I enlightened.
His gaze skipped to the window on his right then quickly returned to the empty road.
“There must be something dead down there. Seems their fighting over it.”
He said nothing more. Nor did I.
My mind drifted from the daily, and the abstract, the horror took place.
What was dead down there? A man? A woman? A child? Someone who would no longer love, laugh, cry…feel? Someone to be missed, to be spoken of… or was it someone forgotten? Someone thrown back by family, by strangers, by society, left to sleep in puddles of city mud and dirty sewer leaks?
What poor creature was left lying there, to decay, dissolve till a dog comes and snatches a bone? What soul was offered to the descending black devils to eat from its flesh and tear its insides until their primal needs are satisfied?
Who was now no more, no longer, never again?
Or was it going to be like it had never been at all? Existence never happened… No tears were shed upon its demise, no memories were brought upon its release, no mothers had felt their hearts destroyed at that very moment when the waters of the river had spat out its lifeless body?
What fate had that mysterious carcass face? Whose image of hate had it met before the end? Whose cold palm had caressed it with anger?
Was it Mother Nature? Was it my own kind?
I wept inside for it. A little helpless thing, a poor and fragile soul, there alone and dined on. Ruthless world!
And I contributing to it from my warm and comfortable seat; a spectator like anyone else, watching from a safe distance. Was I any different from those who had guided it undoubtedly long before to that grave beside the muddy green waters?
Further down the road I entered a quiet state of mind. Not long after the crows were left behind.
But I still wondered, I still craved to know despite all…what was dead down at the river bank? What?
As a single crow glided over the car, its cry mocking