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John Palcewski's Journal

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Death In Situ

Heather led me through a thicket of undergrowth, and pointed to a banch of one of the lemon trees. “It’s a rat,” she said.

I studied it closely. Yes, there was still plenty of fur, and also what was left of a tiny foot with delicately curled toes. “How did it get here?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Heather replied. “But isn’t it odd?”
“Yes,” I replied. “You usually don’t encounter a rat who has croaked in situ, as it were.”
“You’re right,” she said. “They usually creep off to a dark, secret place when the time comes, don’t they?”

Heather hastened to add that this was a complex matter. Elena has been pondering the thing for a week or so. The question is not how the rat got there, because only God knows what the pathetic creature hoped to find in the branches of a lemon tree, but rather where the rotting carcass should be buried. Obviously it can’t be too close to the apartment, because that would be “bad PR” for the visiting paying guests. Then the next obvious question is: WHO should do the burying?

“You know,” Heather said, “Elena might have asked you to do it, were it not for the fact that you have repeatedly told her the only thing you are willing to do in the garden two or three times a week in the summer is to water anything that is growing. She’s fully aware of the boundaries you’ve established in that regard.”

“Ah, but Elena is mistaken,” I said. “I wouldn’t object to taking care of this problem for her.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, then,” Heather said, “I’ll be sure to tell her.”

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I know I don't comment enough. But I have to say... wow. That's beautiful writing, and a beautiful picture.

You're a really good photographer, and your words are the most beautiful written pictures in their own right.

It might sound weird, but... I had a friend who used to make art out of roadkill. He'd arrange the dead creatures around photos or poems or both, and then take a photo and mount it.

People at the art shows either loved it or were completely repulsed. There was no inbetween.

Thanks for this entry, and for many of the others you've shared.

And I hope Elena lets you tend to the garden and the lemon tree. I love lemon trees, and Elena sounds like a beautiful person, inside and out.

It's such a peaceful life you two have. Or so it seems. Yet very rich and full as well. I like that.

I don't think your friend is weird. Art is all about transforming the world to conform to one's highly personal vision of it. As for Elena, yes, she is very sweet and I have no doubt my job is secure. Many thanks for your comments!

i can't tell the size of the rat from the picture, and i'm not sure if you have these birds there, but the shrike will impale its prey on a thorn, barb or branch, behead it, and leave it there indefinitely. the shrike is the size of a songbird, though, so i'm not sure if it could prey on a big rat

That sounds plausible, thanks. My first theory was that one of the semi-feral cats that hang around the area might have killed it and then, in play, tossed it up. But the rat ended up about five feet from the ground. Don't know if a cat could throw it that far. The investigation continues...

(Deleted comment)
Sorry! The next installment isn't as nauseating...

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