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the severed head


I'm not sure how I found Mimi Smartypants, but that's how I found Diaryland. In reading her posts it became apparent she is very interested in finding a severed human head. I can relate. I watch Forensic Files, Dr. G: Medical Examiner, Medical Mysteries, etc. I have also trained myself to squelch screams. I squelch screams in an effort to teach my girls that surprises (like a bee or a wasp in your airspace) don't always require a "girlie scream". But the instinct is still there. I feel the suppressed scream lingering in my larynx.

So the other day I was mowing the backyard. It's quite a large backyard, roughly 80 feet deep and 30 feet wide. The yard is on a slope, so the house is somewhat elevated and the furthest point of the yard, where the fence is, is lower than the house. Rainwater rolls downhill and the back of the yard is where the grass grows longest. We have one extremely large tree in the yard--an oak tree that has a trunk with a four foot circumference. It's a bitch raking leaves in the fall, but I digress. The tree is in the back to the right. And there is a fair amount of space behind and around that tree trunk which sometimes houses surprises.

I was happily mowing the back forty and feeling immense satisfaction as the lawn became a manicured specimen when I entered the black hole behind the tree. There was literally a buzz of activity in the grass near the roots of the tree. Flies were buzzing crazily, so many on the ground that it appeared to be a living, crawling black mass. Like a train wreck begging to be ogled, the mass had mystery appeal and I had to let the mower idle while I leaned in for a closer look.

It was a head. Severed. A possum, I believe. Just the head. No neck, no pesky body lounging around, just the head. It still had fur, one beady eye (as it was lying on its side), the snout and teeth. Its mouth was open and I could see a bit of the spinal cord where I the body took its leave. Of course there wasn't a clean medical cut. Oh no. The neck area was jagged and gnawed on. It took a lot of effort to stifle that scream and I do believe there was an audible intake of air amidst the idle of the mower.

I did a rudimentary search for the corresponding body, but thankfully my search came up empty. I couldn't stomach the thought of actually picking up the head to dispose of it in any way, shape or form. So I did the next best thing: I ran the trusty Toro over the remains. I think until the day I die I will be able to feel the vibration of the mower's handle while the head bounced around in the blades of the mower. Then, just as quickly, the grim gyrations were over. The mower spit out what was left: two separate and independent long scraps of fur that were twisted taut.

I continued to mow the rest of the lawn as I pondered the head. I felt like I was starring in my own low-budget version of "The Godfather." Are the neighborhood cats banding together to fight the possums for possession of my trash cans? Is this a message being sent to the warring factions? Can I expect more nocturnal activity among the Animal Kingdom? And finally, why can't we all just get along?

I did have to bag and trash the final furry remains. I used a big hosta leaf in lieu of rubber gloves to pick up the scraps and I could feel the skin and fur through the leaf. I dropped it in the bag and immediately pressed my fingers against the wooden structure of the swing set in a futile effort to rid my hand of the feeling.

Every so often I violent shake my hands to eradicate the tactile memory of the possum. It's not working very well.


2007-06-15 at 7:13 a.m.

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