In between the near constant wail of fire truck, ambulance and police sirens (aka DC’s theme song)…
Our Nation’s Fine Capital City may be a wasteland of humanity, but it’s also very much alive. Plenty of exotic bird chatter and overnight spider webs help keep that in mind. There are strange whoops and screams from our dear monkey friends in the mornings, as well as what sounds like rattlesnakes in the trees (I think they are insect in nature, possibly locust or cicada-like. They collectively pulsate, punctuated with individual crescendos that sound like pissed-off rattlesnakes. When combined with the intense heat, the whole affair has something of a beguiling effect. And relentless, too.)
Then there are the carcasses. In DC I have seen and experienced dead carrion (is that redundant?) on occasions too numerous to count. One early shocker was the rat on 16th that looked like it had crawled out onto the middle of the sidewalk and died only moments before. My mind raced, “did I just casually step over a large dead rat!?”
But more often it’s a rat pancake in the street. These rats are completely flattened. When I see them I imagine thousands of tires steamrolling their bodies into the hot pavement every day. Evidence of their bodies can take three weeks to disperse, but the outline never really goes completely away. Just like gum.
Most disturbing of all was the rat left to rot on a cement stairway I used on my way to work. It rotted there for nearly two weeks and was like a personal introduction to disintegrating carrion.
All in all, I’d say it’s been a rather merciful summer in DC. Every day I ride my bicycle up the hill to downtown Mount Pleasant. It’s a steady 6-minute climb that I enjoy, even in the sweltering heat. Every day I aim to get there early. Most days I fail. Never does it matter. I’m on a 24-hour cycle; I measure success in days.
-(A slightly less terrified) LMA