Burying a Dog at Midnight

When Judy and I lived in Wilmington, Delaware we met a woman in her fifties at the Alapocas Friends Meeting.  She was a divorcee’ with two daughters in college.  She had been married to an attorney at Dupont, and before their break up she went by the name of Barbara.  When we met her she had gotten deeply into yoga and new age mysticism and had changed her name to Sushila.

Sushila had a bright smile and a friendly, outgoing personality, and she introduced us to an interesting circle of friends.  An acquaintance of Sushila’s walked her cats on a leash. Some friends of hers were a couple who believed in pyramid power enough to build a wooden one in their backyard. (It could comfortably seat one or two people).  Sushila’s boyfriend was an artist who based his abstract paintings on the sound and light signals he received from an alien spacecraft.  His close encounter didn’t happen in a deserted stretch of wilderness–it happened when he was looking out the window of his apartment in New York City.

Sushila had an old dog that was one of the few things left over from her marriage.  One weekend she asked us to watch over it when she went out of town.  Judy and I took the dog for a walk the Sunday morning before Sushila returned, and it lagged behind and wouldn’t climb back up the stairs to Sushila’s apartment.  I was annoyed that I had to carry a thirty pound dog up a flight, but Judy stopped me, petted the dog and looked into its eyes.  She said, “I think that this dog is going to die.”  I dismissed her prophecy–the dog just looked old and tired to me–and we went home after filling its food and water bowls.

We got a call at 10:00 that night.  Sushila was hysterical.  Her dog had indeed died.

Judy and I rushed over to console her and saw it lying in a corner of Sushila’s yoga room.  The dog had been sick in various places on the carpet, and I had to step outside after starting to gag.  Sushila and Judy cleaned up the mess, and then we discussed the disposal of the body.

Sushila couldn’t bury it in her backyard.  It was just a patch of dirt a few inches deep above a partially entombed garage on the first floor.  She thought about other possibilities and decided that the dog had to be buried that night in the dog’s favorite park.  We wrapped it in a blanket and put it into the back of our car.  Sushila brought a shovel,  and we set out for a park on the outskirts of town.  It had woods and expansive lawns, and had once been the grounds of a Dupont estate.

We pulled over into the closed entrance and I cut off the engine.  It had started to rain, but this didn’t deter Sushila.  She wandered in the darkness through a thick tangle of trees and picked a spot in an area where the ground was mucky and covered with tree roots.  I started to dig with the shovel, but spent most of my time chopping roots with the shovel’s blade as I attempted to excavate a hole that was two feet wide by four feet long by three feet deep.  It took around twenty to thirty minutes, and by the end I was covered with mud and sweat. Cars passed us by, and we must have been visible to them, but no one stopped or called the police.  The park was an excellent spot for dirty deeds.

We buried the dog in her blanket and stood around the grave in silence for a few minutes as the rain continued to soak us.  We drove Sushila back home and stayed with her for a few minutes before retreating to our apartment for a shower and something hot to drink.  It was 1:00 when we finally opened our door.

I had a class the next morning at 8:00 and had a hard time staying awake.  The heat was turned up in the room, and the professor, while highly informative, droned in a flat, Midwestern accent.  During a break I leaned over to the guy next to me and said, “You wouldn’t believe what I did last night.”

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