“Did you hear what happened last night?” Scot was on his bike outside my trailer.
I had heard some ruckus by the hot springs, but I locked my door and went to bed.
“A bunch of kids beat up Jerry got pretty bad. I tried to stop them. By the time we got back to the bunker, they had torched my place.”
Apparently, Jerry had said something the kids didn’t like, and Scot was collateral damage. Bunkers don’t burn easily, so the damage was limited to the door and his clothes and a portfolio of pictures—including those of his wife.
This is so-called hippie justice, except there is nothing just or even rational about it. It’s mean, blind, and immature. It feeds on revenge and imagined slights. The randomness and irrationality of the attack made me tense and vulnerable. Lightening strikes just this way.
I was on my way to a little Bible study that met behind the Haven, a drug- and alcohol-free hangout in the Slabs. Scot had been a regular and decided to come along.
As we walked the half-mile to the Haven, the morning sun warmed even this blighted patch of earth and brought a sense of cheer and normalcy. Lance, Scot’s dog, trotted ahead, renewing acquaintances. A young bird dog loped over with the fluid grace characteristic of the breed. A few miles north of the Slabs, I had seen the hunters that flock to the shores of the Salton Sea to shoot ducks and geese. Sometimes a half-dozen or more bird dogs were in the back of their trucks. It was easy to imagine that this one had run away or become lost.
“Beautiful dog,” Scot said.
A green truck rattled by. Too fast, I thought.
Some noise, I’m not sure what, made us turn around. The truck had stopped, and the dog was laying on the road, a pool of red, viscous tissue splattered around its head. The man stomped and cursed, got back in his truck, and roared off, leaving carnage behind him.
Another man came out of his trailer yelling, “That’s Bill’s dog. He killed Bill’s dog. That’s hit-and-run, man. I’m calling the police.”
Scot walked over to the dog and knelt beside it, stroking it. He prayed a little and laid his head on the dog’s side.
“Hey, man. That’s hit-and-run. You can’t just run over a dog and leave,” Loud Mouth had an audience now as people gathered. “I know who it was. I’m calling the police.”
Scot picked up the limp, bloody dog and walked over to Bill’s trailer. Bill stuck his head out and yelled, “That isn’t my dog. Get the fuck out of here!”
So Scot carried the dog back to the road. A woman brought some precious water and set about cleaning up the mess. Another woman offered her personal pet cemetery, which already held four dogs, as a final resting place for this one. So, Scot and the woman went off to bury it.
I continued on to what was left of Bible study. Later, walking back to my little trailer, I passed the watery, discolored patch on the road and realized I was feeling nauseous.