I can’t remember when I learned about death.
I do remember the first dead thing I saw. It was a couple of paws sticking out from under a yellow blanket.
I didn’t take the bus to school much in those days, I could have walked from home. But, for a reason I can’t remember, a bus is where I was.
We all saw those two dead paws. No one on the bus was older than ten. I was five, maybe. One girl started crying and one boy said, “it’s a dog!”
The next thing we saw was the UPS truck, parked. The UPS man was pacing back and forth. I remember he had a mustache, even if he didn’t. I remember Mother said something about him peeing in beer bottles, or maybe that was the next one, when we moved and I had to take the bus more often.
The blanket was dirty. We were close to the school and the buses were lined up. So, we got a good look. They were black paws. They were the talk of the school. But, I wasn’t there long. I was called to The Office. Mother was there, she was crying.
It was then that I recognized those paws. They had a name.
“Puck is dead,” I was told.
“The UPS man did it,” I was told.
I didn’t say anything about the paws. I know I must have cried because they took me out of school. When I got home, those paws were in the trunk of the car under the same dirty yellow blanket. We drove them to a place in town where a man–who might also have had a mustache–took those paws and hid them in a big black trash bag.
That was the last time I saw them. I don’t remember following the man, but we must have because I remember standing on the edge of a giant pit full of black trash bags. The man flung the bag of paws into the pit. It rolled.
I know we got back to the car, back home, an emptier home. But, I don’t remember asking about death.
So, I must have already known, somehow.