Yesterday morning I found a dead opossum outside the gate. My first instinct was to take a photo, because I’m like that, but I’m not going to post it here out of respect for the deceased. Not today at least. The animal’s face was bloody and its mouth slightly open, teeth bared in one last grin. I imagine it was hit by a car and managed to drag itself up onto the sidewalk. Maybe it rang the buzzer, calling for help. I’m not being facetious: this is Los Angeles. If it did, I didn’t hear it, but I can be very inattentive. I get all wrapped up in things. Not in things exactly, not objects, but, you know, stuff. When I came home last night, the opossum was still there outside the gate. Where would it go? How would it get there? I assumed it would find a way. Via coyote, crow, stray dog, or mischievous child. But it wasn’t a very enterprising opossum, and it stayed put. Maybe it was just that it died directly beneath a tree, where birds on the wing couldn’t see it, and maybe last night’s rains washed away its scent, hiding it from the coyotes and dogs. The neighborhood children have no excuse. It’s a good sign, though, that a plump marsupial can lie dead beneath a tree for two days on a reasonably busy street without anyone trying to eat it. In this economy, I mean. In any case, it rained all night and the opossum didn’t look any better when I got home this evening. I didn’t look close. Opossum’s tails are mournful things even in the best of circumstances. Which these were not. For the opossum anyway. I don’t own a shovel, so I called the landlord and asked to borrow his. He came downstairs a few minutes later, shovel in hand. I contributed a lawn and leaf bag, suitably black. And that was that, not much ceremony. The opossum didn’t weigh much, even soaked as it was. I twisted the bag, tied it off. I asked after the landlord’s health. He has a cold. He asked after mine. I’m well enough. I walked behind him as he carried the shovel up the stairs.