Dying in Los Organos

It was bright and hot at Los Organos. The mototaxis drove up and down the Panamericana and into the square. Behind the pueblo were sandy cliffs and the wind blew up the coast and through the dusty streets. The malecon had been abandoned and sand was drifted over the concrete walls and benches and blew across the concrete soccer field.

I was walking along the malecon when I heard the yelping. It came from a depressed area around a disused fountain. There was a dog laying on its side. His body convulsed and shook. He took tiny rapid breaths and the muscles in his neck were tight.

He yelped and staggered up onto his front feet and collapsed, smacking his head against the cement. He lay quietly and then staggered up again and yelped and collapsed. He did this again and again, smacking his head against the concrete. His hind legs were curled against his body and did not work. His front legs would not support him. There was dried blood on the cement where he had hit his head and it was smeared where he had dragged himself through it. His tongue dangled from his mouth, shriveled and dry as pink crumpled paper.

I called out to him, for his attention. He didn’t see me or hear me. His eyes were cloudy and dried permanently open. I watched him laying on his side, pawing at the air in front of him and shaking. I went downwind of him and there was a terrific odor. He smelled already of a long dead dog. That was how some died, men and animals, violently, fighting it to the very last.

I came down the malecon and saw vultures sitting on the fountain. I saw their pink heads and large obscene bodies. As I came closer I saw the black birds down there working on him. They had torn open his stomach and dragged out his intestines and they were tearing at them with their beaks. There were 15 of them all pushing and flapping to get at the clump of insides. The big birds were very busy and ignored me. I walked out onto the concrete soccer field and did my pullups and leg raises on the rusted goalpost. The blowing sand got into my mouth and my hair and eyebrows and stung at my face. Then I did my squats and pushups. I went a different way back to the hospedaje and left the vultures to their undignified business.

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