I had the unfortunate experience of killing a possum. I suppose I killed it in the way that most people might kill such a marsupial. It was killed by way of vehicle. Roadkill.
The occasion was a simple one. A friend of mine and I had visited some other friends of ours for a dinner party. This was in the country, of course, and the road leading to our friends’ house was a dirt one. Well, it wasn’t even a road really, it was their driveway, and, as you might know, the driveways to farm houses can be quite lengthy. We enjoyed a dinner of freshly killed lamb chops, and, as the day grew old, we said our farewells and departed.
As it is with nighttime, it was dark out, but the headlights of my truck allowed me to see quite well. And as we drove down the dirt road, I saw it before me, the possum. It’s conic nose bobbed in front of it’s plump body as it scurried across the road. It was a large animal, maybe fourteen pounds. Bigger than a newborn baby. I ran over it.
Well, I didn’t run over it per se, but I hit it. With what part of the truck, I’m not sure. But, certain that I hit it, I backed up a little, and there was the creature. It’s body shaking in violent spasms under the brightness of the headlights. I couldn’t help but feel bad, seeing the animal in such pain. Suffering, that’s what I saw.
After watching it’s convulsions for a few seconds, I wanted nothing more than for the creature’s suffering to end. I said to my friend, “Do you think I should just run it over, and put it out of it’s misery?” My concern was genuinely deep.
“I don’t know, do what you want,” he replied. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by his answer. I’d never killed such a large creature before, and somehow running it over seemed all the worse. I argued with my friend a little more, hoping that I could get him to convince me to run it over. I failed, and we both sat there in silence, watching that creature struggle in the dirt, grasping for it’s final breaths. Finally, it stopped moving. I watched it for a few more seconds as it lay in a pool of it’s own blood, so I could be satisfied that it’s suffering had ended, then I drove back to town.
I suppose, however, what really bothers me, is not that I killed the animal, but that I did it on purpose. Yes, I confess, I hit the possum on purpose. I saw it well in advance. Running across the road. And while I don’t think that I changed my course at all, I drove straight, knowing that I might hit it. I wanted to run it over.
You see, many of my friends at the time bragged about the size of their roadkill. Others, went out shooting jackrabbits and raccoons with their shotguns just for the fun of it. In a way, I suppose I envied them, they made it sound like such fun, and I wanted to be able to tell them that I had got a big one. Though the prospect of killing something larger than a bug bothered me, I still wanted to do it. And when I saw that possum, I knew it was my opportunity.
I never told any of my friends about the possum, and whenever I’ve received invitations to go out and shoot varmints, I’ve declined. The possum was the largest animal I’ve ever killed, and I intend for it to stay that way.
Before that, the largest creature I had killed was a lizard. Just a small one, maybe four inches long. I was camping at the time, and I saw the lizard sitting on a rock. It was barely noticeable, blending in with the environment, as lizards do. I wanted to see it move. I wanted to see it scurry over the rocks. So I picked up a small stone and threw it towards the lizard. My hope was that it would frighten the little creature, and get it to run off. It didn’t frighten the creature. I hit it right in the neck, and it’s head fell off half way. A friend of mine was with me at the time, and he asked why I killed it, and I told him that I didn’t mean to. Which was true. In many ways, I wish that had been the case with the possum.