Haunted …

I’ve been haunted all day by a scene that unfolded in front of me on my abbreviated stroll to campus this morning. The image keeps playing over and over in my head although I’ve tried to rationalize it and drown it out with upbeat ambient elctronica through my headphones.

Generally I exit the 61D Murray bus at Margaret Morrison Street and Forbes Avenue on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, make my way through campus and back onto Forbes at Morewood Avenue. From there it is a few blocks down Forbes to the Starbucks at South Craig then off to my basement office at Alumni Hall at Pitt. I wish I had stuck to that route today, but the windchill of 8 or 10 degrees had me instead opt to exit the bus at Forbes and Morewood. My tolerance to the cold is pretty high but it was Monday, the first one after Daylight Savings started, and I was just in no mood to bear the extra half mile the regular route affords me on my morning walk.

After leaving the warmth of the bus, I crossed Forbes to avoid the construction on the inbound side of the street, then began my way down hill towards Starbucks. About a block down, across the street from an entrance to the construction zone, I noticed something odd in the road, moving from the construction zone toward my side of the street. There were several pedestrians in front of my and I did not think much of whatever it was at first as they did not seem to notice it.

“Just some debris blowing out of the construction zone,” I thought. But even with the windchill, there did not seem to be enough wind to blow anything the size of the object across the street. I began worrying it was not debris but rather an animal of some sort bounding across the road toward the campus. There is no shortage of squirrels and rabbits in Oakland and especially on the sprawling CMU campus.

But what I was seeing did not have the typical gait of a rabbit or squirrel dashing for a the safety of a hole or tree. While it was not a scrap of paper, or some larger piece of litter, it surely could not be an animal, not with that bizarre movement.

Whatever it was finally got to the campus side of the street and disappeared from my view behind a curb. The young woman in front of me finally seemed to notice the object as it entered her field of vision and she seemed startled. My fears were heightened that it was indeed an injured animal. She and I both continued walking downhill but she turned once or twice to look back at the object.

When I got to the point where the curb ended for a driveway onto campus, I looked around for whatever had crossed the street and in the dark, bitter coldness of the morning I could see a rabbit, severely injured, lying against the curb. I looked away, not wanting to think of the awful state of the animal, but brought myself to look at it to see how badly it might be hurt, thinking not that I could do anything for it but that it might be able to recover from its injuries.

That was not going to be. From what I could see in the dark it appeared that the ill-fated creature had either lost a front limb or that it was completely useless due to an accident or battle with a predator. The odd movement I had noticed when it was crossing the street was the poor thing trying its hardest to cross the street without the use of one of its front legs. When I reflected on the movement, I began to think of how desperate the animal had to be to make a dash across a usually busy road in such a state.

Was it trying to get away from whatever caused the injury? Was it trying to get to its burrow where it had babies? It was still trying to move when I passed it, evidently exhausted from its travel across the road, but there was nothing I could do for it. I can’t imagine the pain it had to be in, the fear it must be feeling. I am projecting human emotions and traits on an animal, I get it, but to feel nothing for it would be inhuman.

My irrational questioning of God began. How could he allow this to happen to one of His creations. I am not a religious man, and I understand that there is so much suffering of people throughout this world that to question Him about the life of a rabbit was ridiculous. The fate of that rabbit was sealed before we crossed paths. Any attempt to intervene would have been futile.

So I walked on, refusing to look back. And the haunting continues.

You may also like...