I was standing on the side of the highway when the explosions started. To the south, in the distance I assumed to be Sacramento, enormous poppings and booms were heard and towers of black smoke darted into the sky. I instinctively began to make the sign of the cross, slowly at first, whispering "Lord have mercy." As the explosions increased in intensity and repetition, so did my prayer and the rapidity with which I made the sign of the cross. No one knew if the explosions were caused by bombs or an industrial accident of some sort. As long as the explosions sounded I did not cease my prayer. The valley sky darkened with soot. My arm grew sore from the fervent, repeated motions and my throat was parched by the hot air.
At my lower intestine, the seat of the passions, I said, "Son."
Earlier that day I had retreated to the last stall in the women's restroom at the data-processing center where I work. Hot, desperate tears spilled silently from my eyes. He only weighed one hundred pounds, she was only 32.
At my right shoulder I said, "Holy."
Seven hours later as I drove home from work I saw a bulky man jogging with a small, caramel-colored terrier sprinting ahead of him on a long leash. I was amazed at the speed with which the small dog propelled himself along the sidewalk. He was not trotting, but leaping. I laughed with a buoyant and unexpected joy in my heart. It was a much needed respite from the every day road kill that would always bring a lump to my throat. By the time I reached the next stop light I was weeping, again.
At my left shoulder I said, "Spirit."
The boys who had left him naked and bleeding in a cornfield did not feel any remorse at what they had done. When someone suggested they apologize to the victim's family the boys became indignant. "This is the truth of how we felt at the time we kicked him in the head," they scoffed. At the trial, the defense called upon a bio-anthropologist from the university to testify to the irrepressible, primal instincts of alpha males and the innate, biological urge to eliminate weaker members of the pack with whom they compete for food, jobs and trucks.
This was the beginning of the time when the bees began to die.