The Cactus Killer — A True Story
Long ago and far away in Tucson, Arizona, there was a man who was a serial killer of Saguaros. The whole of Tucson was up in arms over the murders of dozens of Saguaros. What do I mean by the word murder? This was not a foolish teenager making an error in judgment by using one of the Giant Cacti for target practice. This was someone wandering the night who, sometime before dawn, would walk up to one of the oldest and largest of the Saguaros and, using a two barrel shotgun, would shoot into the base of the Saguaro with the sole intent of killing it. There was no rhyme or reason for it save to be profligate and vicious. *That* is what I mean by the word murder. The wanton killing of extreme beauty.
The entire population of Tucson was upset and angry and over the passage of months with a new Saguaro death reported each and every morning…A type of rage settled over the small city. The Giant Cacti’s population was in decline around Tucson and the inhabitants were already concerned about the loss of Saguaros in the area. This newest assault on the Saguaros left the citizens of Tucson puzzled, bemused and very upset. No one could understand why anyone would do this.
Over time it became the “ongoing saga of the Saguaro killer,” as every morning Tucson would wake up and on the news there would be, yet again, another report of another dead Saguaro.
As time went by people became angry over the situation. I remember being in a bar one night and hearing adult men talking about what they’d like to do to a man who showed such incredible disrespect to nature and to his neighbors (there was mention of “punching his lights out” and the like.. ).
Then, one morning, at 5:30 a.m., as I was driving to work the news broke: a local newscaster, with some glee in his voice, announced, the killer of Saguaros had been found, at last, and he was dead. I felt confused. Dead? Then how do they know this is the Saguaro killer? I had to pull over to hear the details of the story and the story goes something like this ..
As per usual the killer of Cacti had wandered the desert to find a victim. At approx. 4 am he had found his mark. He lowered his shotgun and aimed it at the trunk of one of the Ancient Cactus people and shot….BUT this time the villain got carried away! He shot TWO rounds into the trunk of the Saguaro! The poor Cacti’s trunk gave way and caved in from the blast and with a last gasp for justice, the Giant Cactus fell….and fell …and fell….
It fell very, VERY hard.
A one hundred year old Saguaro is a huge cactus. It can weigh up to six tons. And when the serial Cacti killer shot it ..The ancient Cactus simply fell down on it’s killer, bringing both of them to God’s door simultaneously.
I do not take lightly the loss of a human life but in truth the only sorrow I felt was for the Ancient Being whose last act was to stop the slaughter of It’s kind. My feeling for the man who had killed dozens, if not hundreds, of the Ancient Giants was somewhat unkind. I have to admit I laughed (very long and very hard) at the irony of it but some time later I had to wonder, what had happened to that man to make him into such a bitter and unkind person and I felt somewhat sad for him. I receive such joy from simply looking at a Saguaro. They are so amazing! Reaching up to the Gods as if to make their prayers known, yet this man saw nothing beautiful in the Ancient Cacti…Or if he did, he must have wished to destroy “beauty” itself and that is so very sad.
I sometimes wonder if perhaps the Cacti killer is out there in the spirit realm sitting next to one of the very Cacti he killed in his life. Perhaps he is being taught by the Grandfather Saguaro what the phrase, “All life is sacred,” means.
One can but hope…