Best Place to Bury a Small Pet:
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral
When our ten-dollar San Genarro turtle finally went stiff
(he was a thoughtful gift from a friend who recalled our
childhood trauma of watching neighborhood bullies kill our
boxer turtle with a shovel) we didn't know how to dispose
of his remains. He was our first dead pet in New York. Granted,
a turtle ain't the family cat or dog, and he wasn't the
most affectionate reptile, having spent most of his time
stuck in the corner of the tank between his filter and a
chunk of sidewalk we'd dropped in there. But we were nonetheless
quite fond of him and wanted to have a little respect for
his carcass. Plus, we knew that flushing him would cause
septic hell to break loose.
Our original plan called for a burial at sea in the East
River. But we were busy, you know? No time to walk across
town for a turtle interment in the middle of the goddamned
week. So his little turtle corpse sat atop the fridge for
a few days until we found the time. It was unsetlling, having
him greet us each morning, always with that wide-eyed, accusatory
stare. And, frankly, we were becoming worried that we might
create a restless spirit. Aren't ghosts rumored to be the
manifestations of souls seeking solace in the afterlife?
What if our turtle was unable to meet his turtle maker?
What then? Who among us could handle a turtle
ghost? Where would he appear to torment us? In the shower?
One evening, turtle in pocket, anxious to put him to rest,
we set out. A dig in the park was too risky, and we passed
on the sewer and garbage cans out of respect. Nothing seemed
right; we were anxious; we could feel his immortal soul
stirring in our pocket, eager for rest. Then we passed the
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mott Street. Behind those
eight-foot brick walls, on the North end, there's a small
patch of hallowed ground: an old cemetary.
After a last, quick goodbye to our little friend, we pitched
him over the wall. And there he sat, on an unkempt plot
with an illegible headstone, for all eternity. Well, for
several days, at least: when we peeked over the wall early
the next week, he was gone. Either the groundskeeper or
some animal scooped him up, or -- as we'd prefer to think -- he
was spirited away to a better place, where the water is
always clean and there's rocks to rest on, not slimy chunks
of a city sidewalk.