Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Small Acts of Mercy

A strange moment today, when I found myself having to explain to my kids why I'd smashed in the head of a small creature with a house brick ...

We were walking back from the shops when I spotted the pavement up ahead had acquired a crowd of crows. I've chosen that collective word carefully, fully aware of the correct one, and knowing how appropriate it is under the circumstances.

As we got closer, the birds flapped off, settling a few feet away and waiting for us to pass. In the middle of the path there was a rat, lying where where the crows had been eating it.

It was still alive.

I'm not the biggest fan of our rodent friends, not least because of the twitching metropolis they've formed in our attic. But looking across at the black birds waiting patiently on a nearby lawn - well there was no question they'd be back for seconds as soon as the kids and I moved away.

So what else was there to do? The rat was beyond saving ... so I took a brick off a pile outside a nearby house renovation and took care of it.

I walked past again a couple of hours later, off to buy something I'd forgotten earlier. There was nothing left.

To their credit, I think my son and daughter understood why I'd done what I'd done. Perhaps they've acquired the necessary coping genes from their mother, who grew up on an outback farm where such incidents happened with a regularity that's still alarming to someone who grew up in the 'burbs. My daughter, certainly, nodded sagely and hasn't mentioned it since. Maybe it was easier for her to grasp the logic of it, having struggled so much with news reports of the death of Steve Irwin and its comparative randomness.

There's no point to this post, or clever message as such (although by a huge coincidence I've just watched the final episode of the espionage show Spooks, where someone found themselves in a similar position, on a larger scale). It's just something that's stuck in my mind today.

So there you go then.


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