Oyster Boy Review 09  
  May 1998
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» Levee 67


Bone Music

Rich Ferguson

The old freezer in his garage was filled with a variety of dead animals—snakes, chipmunks, a couple of cats, a bird here and there—even a dog he found out in Waretown last month. He opened the brown paper bag, emptying the latest roadkill contents inside. Then, shuffling his hands about, lifted out two frozen squirrels by their stiff, matted tails, taking them over to the table where the bronzing liquid was kept. He dipped them carefully. One one-thousand, two one-thousand. He raised them above the fur clotted mixture to drip, then dipped the misshapen animals one more time before laying them out to dry. Tired nervous twitch above right eyelid. Memories of early morning drive out Lacey Road past the Garden State Parkway towards the dumps and barren tract land areas out of town. Tuning in a Philadelphia radio station. Body jerking upright defying gravity of sleep. Lighting cigarette. Taking in a deep breath. Letting it out slow, real slow. Saying something like "shit" in Indian smoke signals as the white haze seeped out his mouth. Eyes. Squinting. Scanning every perimeter of road for dead animals laying there amongst the spent shotgun shells, stray hubcaps, and broken glass.

He stood there now in his garage, waiting for the bronzing metal to dry, looking around at the various mobiles hanging from the rafters. This one made from birds, a pine snake and some Miller beer bottle caps. That one made from parts of a cat he found hit and run in Bayville last week. The animal barely alive when he pulled over. Shine of its dark eyes diminishing as agony and fear left its body. He, kneeling by its side, silent save for his lips moving, forming the words of a prayer to St. John Neuman. He touched the bronze leg of the cat mobile hanging there. Various parts of the animal clattered sweetly against each other. Bone music, he thought. Beautiful bone music. A soft singing to himself, keeping in perfect pitch and duration with the dull sporadic chiming of that animal. Such a terrible thing. To die alone by the side of the road without your own kind to guide you from that pain. Again he touched the mobile. Bone music. Beautiful bone music. Singing louder. Turning everything around him to something soft and angel white, almost like wings—as with the next touch, that animal, singing, swinging from the wire was born again and set free.