It was probably around midnight when the taxi dropped me back at the village. As the car sped off, a beam of headlamp briefly sketched out the silhouette of a large object, slumped across the other side of the road. I swayed over to the shape - it was a dead badger.
It was a big old beast, but I managed to slide the spade underneath it. A fish slice would not have sufficed. I barely noticed a pair of headlights appearing in the distance - too important was the task in hand. The low rumble of an engine got louder and louder; I figured it would pass me by. Probably just a grumbling father, dragged out of bed to pick up his daughter, keen to get back home. To my horror, at the point at which I lifted the badger up to waist height on the spade, the car pulled up next to me and a window wound down. John Turner, who I knew from school, peered out cautiously through the open window.
We chatted briefly, exchanging light-hearted pleasantries about our respective evenings. I may well have quipped that I was, "well pissed". Yet for some reason neither of us mentioned the fact that I was elevating a dead badger, three feet from the ground, with a rusty piece of gardening equipment. Perhaps it was an unspoken mark of respect between us, a tribute to innocent life lost? It's more likely he thought I'd beaten the poor creature to death with a shovel. Even after all these years, if we bump into each other in the street, the subject's off-limits. As the car pulled away, I slipped Old Brock carefully into the verge and hot-tailed it to bed. My work here was done.