“I’m glad you don’t have a garden, because you would make the flowers sad.”
I actually said this, once, to a girl I knew. I don’t remember why exactly I said it, but I do remember that I believed it to be true, and that I really meant it. She took it surprisingly well, and neglected to restate her well-established aspiration to put sand in my mouth while I slept.
Little did I know that in a few short months her boyfriend and I would be dragging a frozen carcass through a remote mountain in Spain, in an effort to bury it.
One afternoon I found myself disassembling and moving a large freezer on a farm in the Black Mountain Forest. A large plastic bag containing frozen remains of unstated identity was removed and replaced into the disconnected freezer in the barn nearby. While I experienced a passing curiousity as to what it was or what they planned to do with it, no special attention was placed on the bag or its contents, and I thought little more on the matter.
The next day, however, I was informed that we had ‘forgotten’ about it, and that we had to bury it right away. This certainly seemed odd to me, especially since my friend couldn’t tell me what, exactly, it was. He had prepared me for a terrible smell, but the meat had failed to thaw sufficiently and there was no noticeable odour at all.
“We can do it another time, then,” I was told.
Having once disposed of goat feet that had become so rotten that they were liquid, I had no desire to put off this task any longer than necessary.
Knowing that an efficient operation would have a hole in the ground or large bonfire prepared before the body arrived (or was even dead) I suggested we dig a hole before dragging the body anywhere — this was vetoed, and so we went off into the woods at dusk with a bag of dead mystery, two picks, and the wrong kind of shovel.
The farm, by the way, seemed to make a point of lacking appropriate tools. There was no digging fork, digging bar, stirrup hoe, or spade. In their stead were two chainsaws, one axe, and a dog that repeatedly tried and failed to mate with either cat.
Since we were in the woods, I wondered why we couldn’t just dump the body somewhere far away from the path. There were wild boars in the area, accused of eating lettuce and strawberries, and I was sure they would find and consume the thawing carcass sometime in the night. My friend was determined, however, to bury it. I wasn’t convinced the meat was bad, but suggestions to eat it were ignored.
You can be sure that the thought crossed my mind that this carcass was that of a human: meaning that the fireman or the cannabis seed salesman had stashed it in the freezer and innocently asked us to hide the remains while out of town. For all I knew I was assisting in the disposal of a missing person, and I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach this subject.
Keep in mind that the entire operation was poorly planned — and if there is one kind of person you should be wary of in the woods, its someone with poor planning abilities.
Murderers, for example, can be divided into two groups — good planners and bad planners.
The good planners tend to not get caught, or else realize that it isn’t in their best interest to kill someone in the first place. You can feel safe with a good planner if people know where you are, and there’s no easy way to dispose of your body.
Bad planners, on the other hand, don’t think about those things — as a result, they usually get caught — a small consolation for the victim, but at least it perpetuates our faith in the legal system.
As somewhat of a good planner myself, I realized that if it really was the body of a missing person, making my suspicions clear could provoke an undesired response from this proven poor planner (<– please note and appreciate alliteration here. thank you.). It is for this reason that I did not simply blurt out “Is this a dead guy we’re dragging through the woods, or what?” Sometimes the ‘wait and see’ policy really is the wisest course.
My companion got tired of carrying the carcass over his shoulder, and began dragging it along the gravel road. It was clear to me that dragging a loaded plastic bag across an assortment of stones is not at all a sustainable way to transport goods, but I have accepted the fact that people are rarely receptive to my advice, and so allowed another one of life’s lessons to unfold without my interference.
The bag soon tore, and there was of course carcass everywhere. We had not brought a second bag, and so the prospect of taking all these pieces of dead something any farther was now considerably diminished.
Logistics aside, you can imagine that I was quite pleased to see a number of goose heads on the ground. Why they weren’t saved for soup, one can’t be sure, but I was now confident it wasn’t a human body, and so relaxed my fight/flight preparations considerably.
We were now faced with the problem, however, of how to move all these pieces of dead goose the rest of the way. My ‘leave it for the pigs’ solution had certainly gained some favour, but not quite enough. The Catalonian solution, apparently, is to throw all the pieces down a ravine, follow them down the hill and bury them in ground that is heavily populated with living tree roots.
There were six goose heads in all, along with an assortment of other unidentified parts. We didn’t bury them very deep, but there was a good centimeter or two of loose dirt above the bodies on each mound (we needed two mounds, because in that ground with those tools we failed to make very deep holes.*).
The task was done, and we returned to the house. I proceeded to bake bread that didn’t rise, but refused to give it to the chickens. The next morning I was stung by a bee.
digger of holes and eater of bread
“if it is good enough for chickens, it is good enough for me”
SPECIAL NOTE: To those of you who have some interest in participating in the ‘live like sherpa adventure tour’, please forgive me for failing to name the hostel that was the setting of the last newsletter. It was called “Pension Les Roses” and was located in the city of Nabeul, Tunisia. If you do stay there, please confirm with the owner that you will have exclusive use of your bed and all its components for the entirety of your stay.
*My good friend Brad, the cheerful Badminton Player who likes to be Punched in the Face is very good at digging holes, but not at filling them in — or at any other form of manual labour. This is relevant only in the sense that he was not present, and so was unable to assist in any way↖