At first it just looks like a plastic bag blowing in the wind, caught on a pile of lawn trimmings near the edge of the street.
Perhaps it is a dog, rolling on the ground - probably in something revoltingly odiferous. But then, still closer, it becomes clear the movement is far too frantic to be joyous, and far too heavy for mere trash.
The cat flails, but strangely, as if the head is weighted down to the ground. As we pull our car over, finally realizing what we are seeing and still trying to figure out what - if anything - we can do, the flailing slows until the body is finally motionless.
Only then does the blood pooling out from underneath where the furred head now lies become obvious; the trail spattered beside the body giving testimony to how long these death throes lasted.
I am angry, so very angry at the driver of the car who callously caused this and then sped away and left an animal in obvious pain to die.
But I am shaking with fury at the one who opened the door to let the cat out onto this busy street in the first place.
So go ahead. You know who you are. We've been over and over this before, you and I.
Go ahead and tell me once again how stupid I am to never let my own cats outside to roam the streets free.
Berate me yet again when I say it's not safe. Tell me how cruel I am to keep my cats behind glass windows and wooden doors. Toss all the statistics blindly aside and bring out all the self-righteous indignation you always use whenever we talk about this issue you're so certain you'll win.
Come sit in that car with me and watch what I saw, knowing all the while that even if you got out and went to the animal you could do nothing to alleviate the suffering.
Goddess knows I've always been unwilling to listen to your argument before. But I'm willing now.
So go on then.
Explain to me again why it is that you're right and I'm wrong.