Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beast #933: the Deer

[Parental advisory: some strong language, but nothing your kids haven't been hearing on the playground since third grade.]

Last week at the writing table Anne said, "More people are killed by deer than any other animal."

"You mean from hitting them with their cars?" someone else asked.

Then things went on.

Really there are several species of deadly deer out there, and that's not including mooses, the deadliest member of the deer family.

Deadly deer no. 1: The Bambi-eyed razor deer.

Looks cute. All spotted. Has these big eyes like Bambi in the cartoons. Each eye takes up a third of the head.

The Bambi-eyed razor deer raises its head up from grazing. Bats its big Bambi eyes at you.

"What a cute little deer," you say. "I wonder how close it will let me get to it." You approach slowly. One foot carefully in front of the other. A twig snaps. You say, "Fuck!" The deer looks up, startled. Dips its head back down to the blueberry bush and continues stripping the leaves off.

You get closer. Closer still. Hold out your hand, palm up, because someone said you're supposed to do that with dogs.

"Hello, little deer," you say in a low voice, quiet voice.

The big-eyed deer looks up again. Braces its legs to run away, you think. Another twig snaps under your foot. You look down, and it's not a twig. It's the metacarpal bones of a human hand, bleached white. The grass all around is full of bones, all down where you can't see them. The corner of a pelvis. A curved spine. Half of a skull, the rest sheared off in a straight line.

You look up, and the Bambi eyes are staring right into yours. Black, all black, and down inside, a tiny, orange, dancing flame. You stare, still, like a chicken hypnotized by a squiggle drawn in the sand.

You hear, "Look out!" at the same time that something hits you hard in the side, right at the bottom of your ribcage.

There's a whistling noise as the deer's silver-tipped, razor-edged hind hoof slices through the hair at the top of your head in a roundhouse kick.

You land hard, crunching down on a skeleton's ribcage, and someone heavy lands on top of you. "Run. Now," she says. And you run. Now.

Deadly deer no. 2: The November mist deer.

You're out hunting. You and your friend Clem set up camp. Drank some beers, got a good night's sleep. Out at the crack of dawn. You and Clem split up to try your luck in different spots. It's damn cold. Your breath swirls out in big clouds. The morning's coffee hits your bladder, and you stop to take a piss. Lean your rifle up against a tree trunk. Set your gloves down in the snow. Unzip your two layers of pants. Your pee splatters down into a deepening yellow hole in the snow. Steam rises up.

You look up, and there, not thirty feet in front of you, is the biggest buck you've ever seen. Ten points on the rack, head turned toward you like a Hartford Insurance commercial.

You're still pissing. At the same time, you reach out slowly, slowly for the rifle against the tree. Just reach it with the tips of your fingers, and it tips right into your hand. You're not sure whether you've pissed on your boots, but you don't care.

You raise the rifle slowly. It's a little awkward with the deer straight in front of you there, but you don't want to move too much. You get the rifle up to your shoulder. Get a nice bead right on the buck's chest.

In the instant that you squeeze the trigger, the November mist deer thins, dissipates, and vanishes like the clouds of your breath. There, facing you, is Clem. With his dick hanging out of his pants, aiming a rifle at your heart.

There must have been a lightning instant of hesitation—one of those reflexes that goes in a circle through your reptile brain without ever reaching the mammal part. So you're still alive, and so is Clem, but now both of you have to sit down to pee.

Deadly deer no. 3: The carnivorous flypaper deer.

There's not much to say about this one that's not already there in its name. There was a bad incident when one of them ended up in a petting zoo. They'd filed off its fangs so it couldn't hurt anyone, but every kid who touched its fur got stuck there.

Anyway, be careful. More people are killed by deer than by any other animal.