In Coahuila, Mexico, on the toll road between Durango and Torreon and just past the exit for Gomez Palacio, you might see a dead dog on the side of the road. He’s lying there, slowly decomposing in the desert sun and being carried away by the buzzards and the pack-rats and the scurrying beetles a few bites at a time, because I killed him.
Driving back from the plant in Durango where I must spend a large part of my time, the window open to the third-world reek of burning trash and my Portuguese-induced stress falling away from me like my first solid meal after a ten-day bout with the stomach flu, I gazed about at the day’s last sunlight lying warm and shadowy on the rocky rumpled hills, the flocks of geese and ducks paddling about in the murky, shallow remains of last fall’s monsoon, the mottled stands of prickly pear standing black and tall at either side of the road.
I was cruising, the Autopista here smooth and level and quick; the Mexican autobahn. 4 Non-Blondes were blasting away what’s left of my hearing after twenty years in a machine shop, singing “Hey…Hey…Hey…Hey, Hey…Hey…Hey…Hey…I said Hey…what’s going on?” and suddenly a flash of color appeared above the blacktop, there to the left, and two mangy dogs, one black, the other white and tan, jumped the concrete barrier into my lane. The white one, the stupid bastard, just trotted right out in front of me, a dumb doggy look on his face as he glanced unconcernedly over at 3300 pounds (that’s 1500 kilos to you, Mexican doggy) of silver Dodge Avenger screaming his way at over one-hundred miles per hour.
I tried, I really tried, to miss him. Knowing it was already too late, still I slammed my foot down on the brake and swerved hard left. My convenience store dinner – a bag of Limon y Chile flavored Fritos, a half eaten Pinguino (these are really tasty) and a partially-consumed six-pack of Modelo Especial – went sailing through the interior of the rental car at lethal speed.
El perro cartwheeled through the air like a sack of high-speed potatoes, turned a three-and-a-half gainer, and whammed into the post of a metal road sign warning passing motorists to not molest the signs. Shit. In my rearview mirror, I watched the more intelligent of the two walk over, sniff at his mangled wreck of a friend who was just moments ago ambling happily through the Sonoran desert, and lifted his leg to piss on the metal pole upon which his friend was now impaled. He sat down to wait for the resurrection of his pack-mate, and as I passed over the next hill, I saw him raise his snout to the sky and howl.
Adios muchacho. Run in peace.