***This post deals with a death of a fox and how I handled disposing of his body. There are some photos (none graphic) but be warned, this might be upsetting to animal lovers. It certainly was upsetting to me.***
Last night was surreal to say the least.
It started with Loony, Gofer and me seeing Nicholas Jaar at The Fox Theater. He’s an EDM producer and composer and oh my god, what a great show.
I’ll put some “video” up so you (I) can hear the music, the visuals are nothing to look at.
It was a really great show that got off to a strange start. Jaar took his time getting started but seeing as how there wasn’t an opening act, I was all for waiting with a refreshing drink in hand (cranberry soda, no booze for me) while talking to Loony and Gofer.
Jaar went on around 10:00, imagine about 10 minutes of ambient music kinda going nowhere. I was all, “Now is when something happens …” and Loony was like, “Does he realize that we aren’t all sitting down?”
It was super mellow.
The music started ramping up and it was one hella dancing crowd, we didn’t stop until the show was over. Fortunately I was all about sensible shoes and comfortable clothing. I remember the days when I used to get all dressed up to go out. Har.
We were mid-floor by the entrance to the area so it was pretty much a steady stream of people trying to work their way to the front, not like there was anything to see (reference the videos up top). This was no DJ Shadow or Troy Boi show. Zero visuals except for the standard issue fog and lasers, but the music more than made up for it.
This is one of my favorite songs, which he barely played, but it didn’t matter that all the music was new to me. Usually that would piss me off but the sounds were so dope that it just didn’t matter.
The Fox was listed in the Rolling Stone’s top 4 venues in America. It’s not set up to see very well but the sound system … damn. The music was fully inside me, I felt my sternum and nostrils vibrating with deep, undistorted sound.
Anyway, this pack of bros started shoving their way past which was kinda stupid given that we were crammed in pretty tightly. One of them could make it no further past us and was awkwardly standing chest to chest with Loony who said, “I hear there aren’t any people right up front by the stage.”
Homeboy actually fell for it! His little face lit up and he said, “I have to get up there!” and he exited our area to try another approach. I almost felt sorry for the gullible fool.
It was a great night of trippy music that spanned so many genres, from African to Blues, experimental live saxophone, and etherial sonic soundscapes of pings and gunfire. We were genuinely bummed when the lights came up. I could have gone for a couple more hours for sure.
So we were walking home when Loony spotted an animal on the sidewalk, it was a beautiful black fox. It had been struck by a car and was clearly dead, the rigor mortis had already set in. We looked onto it in sadness, black morphs are extremely rare and it was such a shame this beautiful creature was killed.
Loony immediately wrapped him up in his jacket to carry him home when from behind us we heard a woman say, “Hey! What are you doing with that fox?!”
She thought we had somehow managed to capture a live fox and were stealing it. Okaaaay.
Earlier that day she saw him and his siblings catch a snake and share the kill. “What are you going to do with it?” She asked.
Loony replied, “I don’t know but I’m certainly not going to leave him by the side of the road.” I don’t think anyone could argue with that.
We walked the half mile home at a breakneck pace; one, because the fox was heavy for Loony to carry and it was dripping blood, and two, I was trying to keep up with Gofer who for some reason got really quiet and seemed in a big hurry to get the fuck out of there.
Coincidentally a friend of mine was recently in a similar position: a black fox was struck and killed in front of her mountain home, one that her neighbors had been observing with breathless excitement for several weeks.
She called Animal Control and was referred to the Department of Wildlife whereupon an officer came to her home to inspect the animal. He told her that a respectful way to treat the body would be to either bury, donate or taxidermy the creature.
She opted to donate it as it was a rare specimen and she didn’t think having the neighborhood spirit animal stuffed and mounted in her living room would go over well.
Call me crazy but I know what I would do if I found a beautiful and senselessly killed animal, I would preserve it. I was ready.
Stitch is a weird gal, we know that, she collects bones and likes to make costumes. She’s not necessarily into the occult but she isn’t squeamish. And I knew that she would be the person to support me in my quest to do right by this fox, according to the Department of Wildlife.
I couldn’t help but make the taxiderpy reference, not that I would ever want to do that. The poor thing was majestic and beautiful and deserves to be represented beautifully, but hey, it was late and I was coming off a very strange evening.
That would be me. I am that person.
So this is where it gets crazy. I hadn’t thought of keeping the tail but once Stitch put it into my head, it seemed like an easy thing for me to do and take care of myself. If the fur fell off, it wouldn’t cost me $800 (the skinning fee) that I would pay if I rolled the dice with taxidermy. I was committed, but I thought I could get her to help me.
****I would like to point out that I am against buying and wearing fur. Fur farms are hell on earth and should be outlawed. There are plenty of beautiful synthetic furs out there if you love the aesthetic. I didn’t save the tail because I have always wanted a fox tail, it just felt wrong for him to completely disappear off the face of the earth. Maybe I’m misguided but that’s where I am coming from.****
Let me just pause right here and say that there is some serious hillbilly shit on Youtube, and I’m not talking about America. I’m talking the UK and Australia, too. Oh my god.
I spent a good half hour squeamishly watching videos on how to remove a fox tail and salt cure it.
They all talk about using “hazel twigs” to remove the tail. Hazel? That’s great. I broke a wooden spoon and tried out several kitchen implements before I found something that worked.
I sent her a picture of the now tailless fox, but I’ll spare you. It was fascinating in an anatomical kind of way but not really something I need to publish. I’ll leave it to you and the power of Google if you really want to see that.
At this point I insisted she call me and walk me through it. I think of it as something like when a person is trapped on an airplane and another passenger is going through anaphylactic shock and they have to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a Swiss Army knife and a drinking straw while being coached over the radio by an actual doctor.
Only it was me and Stitch who has field dressed some animals in Thailand and at least watched a video on how to field dress a deer. Not that it helped.
I was running between my kitchen and garage looking for the sharpest knives. I took a look at the poor fox and thought of its beauty and life and tried to put my mind in a respectful and honoring place as I cut.
I buried the fox in a deep hole in the garden and covered his grave with rocks. I placed his head in three bags and put it in the freezer for when Stitch gets home from camping and proceeded to the next step: salt curing the tail.
She told me I could skin the head for her and I told her to go fuck herself.
In a nutshell, you need to shove a straw down the tail and fill it with salt. Then you need to bury it in more salt and let it dry out for several weeks. But it turns out that regular sized straws don’t work.
“Get a boba tea straw! That will work!” Stitch advised.
“Yeah, right. I am sweating like a motherfucker digging holes and field dressing roadkill. I can’t go to the coffee shop and ask for a straw! I’m a mess!”
I wonder if my Fitbit is logging all this exertion? It wasn’t hot out by any means but I was sweating balls, but I needed a bigger straw.
I refrained from explaining to the barista what I needed it for but I can only imagine what any passersby might have thought hearing my end of the conversation with Stitch … probably what my neighbors thought as Loony and I rather loudly argued over whether to bag the body or not before putting it on ice.
“Should we position the body before we put him in the chest?”
“It doesn’t matter you idiot! He’s not going to freeze solid in there.” I didn’t say idiot but still. I’m sure they think we are serial killers who really don’t have our shit together.
After doing all that I disposed of the bloody bag he was stored in over night, washed out the cooler and ran all the implements through the dishwasher to sanitize them. Then I took a very long shower. The smell of fox is still on me, I swear.
Fortunately through all of this the kids were out of the house. Itchy was up at Rocky Mountain National Park with Loony while Scratchy was off with a friend. It’s a good thing because I could not have them walk in on me. It was bad enough having Bates look over my shoulder the whole time. I’m sure he could have given me some tips.