It's 1986, and am in California, studying towards a graduate degree in cultural anthropology, but am considering medicine with my background in biology, being beyond curious about neuroscience. In my mind, I'm also thinking about veterinary school at UC Davis, having done research on, and cared for, so many birds. I so love those avian dinosaurs that managed to survive the mass extinction crisis prior to the one we're in right now.

I have to work. Unlike Denmark, higher education in the USA is unattainably expensive for so many, and is a major cause for America's degeneration towards a religion-justified, corporate dystopia.  America's not quite yet there, even as I write these words in 2021.  

I have a job interview at a huge landscaping firm, whose customers are mostly owners of corporate buildings that require intense botanical scenery around them. They seek someone who can analyze and problem solve plant diseases, coordinate planting, sprinkler installation and repair, guide mostly Spanish-speaking workers, interpreting landscape design schematics for them. Driving all over southern California, site to site, from the LA area to the Mexican border was also a part of the job. The salary promised to be good.

Fully decked out in my best suit and tie outfit, on a chilly, unusually rainy morning but comfortably cocooned in my car, I am straining to see through fast moving windshield wipers the narrow and heavily trafficked, curvy roadway, up and down a mostly desert region to make my appointment. Having survived a Nazi pedophilic Christian horror in childhood, which, a decade later on November 29 in Denmark, would take the life of my younger sister, I'm also struggling to pay attention to my body, employing breathing techniques to manage a creeping, very intense social angst and other symptoms from a complex form of PTSD. It wouldn't be good, if, during that interview, I would suddenly cry, or freeze, unable to express myself clearly, with buckets of sweat pouring out of me. I really needed this job, and had performed professionally perfect during the initial phone interview. To help me along, I've got my favorite Moody Blues album playing from the cassette stereo system.

As I round a very sharp corner, challenged also by fast-moving, oncoming traffic, I suddenly see a huge brown form lying still by the sandy shoulder on the other side of the road. It's a dog. Ignoring someone honking behind me, I slow down to a crawl, roll down my window, wind-driven rain plastering my face, and noticed that one of its forelegs is moving very slowly as a car just then drove over it's long tail. I can't help myself, and pull as far over to the narrow shoulder on my side as possible so cars can pass from behind. It wasn't easy to safely get out of the car and run over to the dog, completely ignoring the rain beginning to soak my expensive clothes, while also ignoring what that would do to my interview in less than a half hour.

The mixed breed, large dog could barely move its head, as its very alive but so pain-ridden and sad eyes looked up at me. I crouched down to gently pet its head, collar-less neck, and then ran my fingers down its backbone, noticing instantly that it, and one side of its chest, was broken beyond repair. At least one of its lungs worked fine, for now, as it painfully heaved, and, in putting my ear to that chest, heard the strong thumping of a heartbeat. But its pest-ridden, short matted fur stank like no dog I have ever smelled, even to today. There was no blood, except by its broken tail, which I swiftly pulled closer to the shoulder as cars further drenched us in splashes of brown dirty water. I put my mouth close to one of its ears, and began to softly sing,“Hey Jude,” as best I could.

It was pretty cold, so I took off my now-ruined jacket and covered up some of the dog with it, up to its neck, and lay down next to it, my feet safely downhill towards the scrub-desert valley below, cradling its head, kissing it, petting it, as it soundlessly kept looking deep into my eyes, struggling ever more to breathe. I kept singing that song written by Paul McCartney to soothe John Lennon's son, humming through some of the forgotten lyrics. Wondering only briefly what passers-byes were thinking about this blond dude in a brown-drenched, white-shirt with tie was doing with a suit-decked dog, it took some ten minutes more for it to finally die. Based on everything evident on its body, until that moment it had survived so much harshness from a human world that had cast it away long ago like the morning trash.

I then dragged its lifeless body halfway down that valley, and left it for nature to take its course.

I did get that job, by the way, later calling from a gas station to excuse my absence with a white lie, and thus getting a new appointment.

Bent Lorentzen

Bent Lorentzen

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