Les Chats Morts Odeures

Rich Engle

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Les Chats Morts Odeures

(The Smelly Dead Cats)

A Sad Tale of Death and Dessication


R.D. Engle (writing as "Christian Tingler)

There is a certain nature to living in the tropics that, while one might intellectually grasp it, does not provide any guarantee that it will work in practice. Further, it will not (and this is for sure) guarantee that thoughts will necessarily have a damn thing to do with practice. And, I guess, this is true of anywhere that you might live. But at 72 degrees latitude, say, there exist operant principles that make things a little more urgent than others--heat, in this case, being the constant. Heat and humidity, right? Something complained about, occasionally, by Northerners who experience it less and less, but still complain about it once they have it. Some of them visit to Florida, and it is the most amazing thing: they get down there and bitch about the heat. Go figure. That is why they come back either as pale, fishlike as they came, or lobster-baked and miserable. It is the strangest goddamn thing, to watch them endure this needless torment.

If you don't get used to the conditions quickly, it will overtake you, in one form or another. Some people develop strange forms of the scoots, spending their visits here mostly mounted on the pot, and complaining about why they came here in the first place. There are all kinds of reactions that come out of people who visit Florida, even including repeat clients. There is a clulessness there.

But there is one thing that cannot be denied, and that is the fact that you are in the Tropics, and one way or another, something is going to try and get to you, be it fire ants, or black fleas, or bad water--and those are just the small ones. It requires a certain adaptation period, and, quite frankly, I do not find it all that difficult, because it beats the shit out of snow. The thing is, though, is that you can't allow for letting yourself get into a compliant condition. This is another complicated matter, because it boils down to meaning that if you really do become Native, feral, yes: you will anticipate most of the weird Tropical Life, and know how to defend against it. However, you will also have done so at the expense of your brains leaking out of your ears. Suddenly, you will have strange desires, like wanting to mount a Confederate Flag in your trailer. It is a frightening alternative, and, for a thinking man, it means looking for another way of keeping the edge, if you are setting out to be a permanent resident.

Dead cats in the ditch back of my hacienda this morning, and I knew nothing of it until it came to me the hard way, in this case of my next-door-neighbor John (a great thinker, and avid conspiracy theorist, overall fine man and survivalist type, from Colorado). I was simply trying to get rid of some yard waste. It was brought to my attention (since everyone knows everything that everyone does if you live on or around a trailer park) that there were (outside of torn-up garbage) two items that I could readily identify as not being my own. In this case, it was in the form of two very dead cats; one full-grown, the other a youngish kitten. A brutish kill had been put on them, and I could put that math together because I had heard reports that, while I was at Church, some dog had rifled through my recyling bin, which I considered to be a small matter. But, the brute had gone on. He had chased some of the feral cats that live herabouts, and it ended in a brutal gut-tearing incident. Not only that, but the Pit Bull had gone on to destroy a small, partly-grown kitten. These, then, were brought to my attention, and they laid there, resplete in the back ditch. The flys, by then, were everywhere, and the stench prevailed off-rip, though we had not, at that time, even attempted to remove them--that came shortly hereafter. You see, if you move a corpus delecti, that starts up a whole new kind of stink that will waft for miles. There is no way around it, if you are fit and dedicated to the point where you must (and you must) remove that. The point is that it is a certain kind of stench, the death-knoll kind, and it becomes pervasive, very, very quickly.

At this point, removal seemed to be the only option. I might also mention (and have confirmed, via Lee County Animal Services--a good reaching, underfunded organizaton, that there are no "removal" functions here.) In fact, upon query, I was asked "are you comfortable with burial." Fuck no, especially at that point, what with the flies, stench, and so forth. In the end, there were few options.

One of the felines was caught dead in the attack position--eyes still open, and in a launch posture. The smaller young one was similar, but stiffened, and showing less aggression. In any event, by then it was not a matter of their warrior ways, but more a matter of flies, and a scent that I knew would develop and carry in a big, bad way--by the time it was over, in fact, it was getting past Orange River Road and heading towards Palm Beach Blvd, which gave me some solace, as if all continued to go well it meant it would piss off the Puerto Rican pimps up there.

All the time during this decision-making process, it was in the nineties, and that was kind of forcing my hand, a bit.

It (they) are still there, but packed up in my trash-can, what with Garbage Day (formal refuse removal) being now within a few hours. It was a gamble, to be sure...I set the whole thing out, sealed in my trash can with a "Please Remove All Including Can" sign roughly-taped to the whole mess. I think it relieved the foul stench entering my abode, and instead was shared with the neighbors for a moment. But I feel no guilt on this. For one, most of them, while vampires, are likely sleeping. If the whole operation doesn't go South on me, it will be back to the tranquility to which I am accustomed. If it nixes, then I might be scraping things with a snow-shovel.

It is a peculiar stench. The smell of death incarnate.


East Ft. Myers, FL, twenty-something.

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