Louisville Magazine

SEP 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.16 45 ed and dropped again. Officer Lisa Nagle would later describe Moseley, simply, as "distraught." "What do I do?" Moseley said. "Where do I take him? Where do I take him?" e Louisville Zoo referred them to Shively Animal Hospital. It was already late in the afternoon, and the officers worried the hospital would close to new patients before they could get Spike there. Moseley didn't know where the hospital was. An officer said that someone would have to pay for the veterinary services up front. "I'll pay it, I'll pay it," Moseley said. With that, officers lifted the blanket and set Spike into the back seat of Moseley's Honda Accord. Duncan hopped in after him. A few scales lay in the parking lot, and a long white scar clawed across the blacktop. Later, Duncan wondered if that blue car had scratched it in using Spike like a busted nib. e fire department washed away the blood. One squad car led the way and another followed Moseley, racing to Dixie Highway. When they arrived, a team of vets rushed out with a stretcher and took Spike in for surgery. Dr. Mary Jane Fuchs had seen similar injuries plenty of times — turtles get attacked by dogs, chopped up by lawn mowers. But this was an especially big tortoise, an especially traumatic case. When vets pressed down on Spike's shell, they felt wind rush up out of his exposed lungs — a breath that wasn't breathed. His shell was too badly broken to neatly fit back together, so the vets had to remove pieces from the top before replacing the biggest fragments. After several hours, they had glued Spike back together with wire and acrylic paste. It looked like someone had covered the top of his shell in chewed-up bubblegum. His broken pelvis would have to heal on its own. No one knew if Spike would survive. Spike's popularity exploded after the accident. He's a well-known oddity throughout the city, catching a lot of attention on his walks with Duncan. He once walked the half-mile to the waterfront — a heck of a journey when you move at a pace of about one block per half hour. WHAS-11 and WAVE-3 TV both covered Spike's accident. A trendy bar in NuLu called Galaxie hosted a benefit concert, where Dun- can sat awash in laser light, looking out of place in the crowd of young, tatted people. He pointed to one of the little green lights zipping across the floor and said, "I bet Spike would try to eat those." A stranger named Glenn Smith, still so emo- tional over the loss of his own dog that he breaks into tears when he talks about it, set up a GoFundMe account online where people could donate money, and posted updates on Spike's condition regularly. e digital prism of social media projected the page everywhere, easy to find for anyone who got interested after they heard about the accident on the news. Money poured in in increments of $5, $10, $20, $50. Garage Bar donated $170. Soon there were thousands of dollars. At press time, the page had collected more than $11,000. So far, Spike has racked up about $3,000 in medical bills. Mosley says the rest of the donations will help build an outdoor tor- toise habitat at Wayside. I get the Spike love. e shell of an African spurred tortoise is so remarkable that humans immediately interpret it as the most indicative property of the entire animal — a tortoise is its shell, a fortress of terraced keratin and bones, impervious to the greatest predators of the most competitive food chain in the world: Africa. e tortoise is specialized, it has an identity. ey are classified as a "vulnerable" species, just one step up from endangered. e herbivores live a remarkably long life — up to 150 years, though the oldest captive African spurred tortoises recorded were in their 50s. eir dead reptilian stare is made bearable by their long, silly necks and dopey, slow strides. Tortoises are their own armor; they are their home and their home is them. People relate to this because they want containers for themselves, too: homes, outfits, beds, names. ese help us cope with the universal knowledge that the earth is a kicked (or not kicked) pebble hurtling through nothing. We retreat into the shells of ourselves. It is no wonder that the tortoise shows up in so many creation myths, my favorite of which says a great tortoise supports the whole world on its back. But there's a problem: Under enough pressure, anything, even a tortoise shell, breaks. Duncan had been alone a long time. He liked being alone. Back in high school in Evansville, Indiana, he spent as much time as he could perfecting his golf swing. He worked at a golf course in exchange for lessons from an old pro everybody called Dutch. He played on his school team, but they always fell short of the state competition. His dad was a typical tough guy, and he kept pushing Duncan to help him with his business doing maintenance on apartments. But Duncan wanted none of it; he only wanted to stand in the tee box alone and swing, swing, swing. He knows now his problem was everybody else; he imitated the other golfers on his team when he should have let his club swoop down its own trajectory. Trying to be like the others got him off course. After golf, he drank beer with his buddies. He never liked the vodka, but they did, and so he copied that, too. Flash-forward a few years and Duncan has dropped out of the University of Southern Indiana near Evansville after three years, bored with his first major, business, and lousy at his sec- ond, computers. Flash-forward a few more years and he's been working at a car wash for nearly a decade, cleaning cars until he's out of breath, going nowhere, approaching the middle of his life and living alone in an apartment. Drinking again. Sometimes he tries to articulate why — anxiety, depression, things he learned to name and cope with at Wayside — but really it comes down to the feeling. He liked the feeling of drunkenness. He never got into the pills his coworkers would buy when they got paid. e beer was enough. Except beer is never enough, and so he drank more of it, chasing the feeling, the lack thereof. A can, a six-pack, a 12-pack, another. e His shell was too badly broken to neatly fit back together, so the vets had to remove pieces from the top before replacing the biggest fragments. After several hours, they had glued Spike back together with wire and acrylic paste. It looked like someone had covered the top of his shell in chewed-up bubblegum.

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