John Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

Vegetarianism appeals after facing armadillo three days dead

I have spent some minutes in recent days seriously considering vegetarianism.

This after removing the armadillo-on-the-half-shell from my car’s undercarriage where it had ripened for several days before I discovered the source of the odor of decay that seemed to greet me around every time I entered or exited my car.

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It was not the first time the car had suffered an odor problem. In late 2004 when Richard Hall managed to briefly operate the now-infamous beef plant at Oakland, a problem developed in the latter stages of the the butchering process. The  machinations that were supposed to dispose of the offal on site were either inoperable or never existed in the first place. They solved the awful offal problem by hauling the refuse in open trucks, supposedly to some approved landfill located somewhere that required the trucks to drive through Coffeeville.

Truck after truck drove the route from Oakland through Coffeeville, slopping along roadsides the ripening glop whenever they stopped or turned. It smelled exactly like the stink bait sold for catfish. After driving several miles along the route, the tires on that car had the same smell. It took the attention of a detail man to get rid of the smell.

The first sniff of the more recent decay coincided with my semi-annual car washing and cleaning. The trip to the coin-operated car wash went well. I drove from there to the driveway at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast to clean on it some more. Down around the left front tire I noticed the smell. I looked around the area of the carport expecting to find the rotting remains of some damncat which had met untimely recent demise.

There was none.

It was later — can’t remember when — that I made the connection that the odor was greeting me with every auto entrance and exit. Perhaps the stink was too subtle at first. The daytime heat soon corrected that. As I pondered its odoriferousness, I recalled that armadillo on Highway 310.

Returning from Crenshaw on Friday night, the varmint was crossing from north to south when my eastbound vehicle intersected with him. Or her.

I straddled the creature between my tires to no avail. My vehicle has a lower ground clearance than an armadillo is tall. Thump-thump. Besides armadillos have a curious fleeing instinct. When startled, they jump straight up from the ground and doom themselves even when the driver of a high-clearance vehicle tries to straddle them.

Early on the fourth day, I went to a drive-through car wash that claims to wash even the underside of the vehicle.

Didn’t work. Essence d’rot prevailed even more.

Later that morning I finally laid down next to that car to examine the underside in an effort to find the ever-more-malodious smell.

A gathering of flies near the transaxle caught my eye. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark underside of that vehicle, I saw the pattern of an armadillo’s shell. The impact of armadillo against  undercarriage had neatly sliced away a portion of flesh and shell.

By the time I wrested the armadillo on the half-shell from its resting place of those three days, the maggots had grown fat feasting.

And vegetarianism becomes seriously appealing every time I revisit the moment.