I saw something I have never seen before today. It started with four police vehicles, all of their lights flashing. Three cruisers and one motorcycle. All I could think was, “isn’t this strange” as I came upon them on the residential street I’ve travel nearly everyday for the past twelve years. Yesterday it was an ambulance, a firetruck and one cop car. Never had I seen this tree-lined street heavy with so much action. Even though I drive it all the time I know very little about its cosmos. Kids live here for I’ve seen the school bus stop. Two grocery stores and a funeral home make a living here; the rest are residential houses in varying states of disrepair. Animals run free. I’ve seen a few raccoons lumbering across the road and countless cats darting here and there. A poodle wandered aimlessly last spring. Crows pick at road kill while smaller birds try to hoist discarded hot dog buns whole. Residents jaywalk slow and deliberate, daring speeding vehicles with their stare to hit them.
This morning as I got closer I could see a group of teenage boys huddled together on the curb, watching something in the street. A police cruiser blocked oncoming traffic while another parked haphazard on the curb. A motorcycle cop blocked traffic across the way while I could see a fourth cruiser pulled over behind a huge silver SUV. No officer directed traffic. The car in front of me couldn’t decide what to do. Drive past the cruiser? Allow oncoming traffic to go around? Back up? No, not that. I shook my head frantically. I didn’t allow enough room for this sudden halt to the daily commute. Impatient horns started to honk behind me. Finally, the elderly woman in the hatchback inched forward, passing the chaos of the cop cars and gawkers.
When it was my turn to pass the entire situation became crystal clear. Like a slow motion movie I understood the everything the scene had to offer. The woman in the SUV had been in an accident. The kids on the corner saw the whole thing. Oncoming and side street traffic was blocked as to not contaminate the “crime” scene. In the middle of the road lay a dead Labrador Retriever. Eyes open, tongue exposed, his brown coat shiny bright in the early morning sunlight. A glint off his collar and silver tags temporarily blinded me and for a few seconds I saw spots. There lay a well loved pet. Someone’s companion. A member of a family, perhaps. My heart broke and I wanted to pull over. I wanted to believe he was only stunned. Sleeping with his eyes wide open. Blood pooled under his head. I knew better than to stop. As I turned away I hoped this wasn’t an omen for the rest of the day. I felt callous moving on but what else could I do? Life goes on.