Saturday, March 1, 2008

oh, deer ...

between the distance, the dark, and my outdated glasses prescription, it looked like an animal or an oil spill. we had just dropped off chuck's fannie in west duluth, and at the intersection of redruth and grand avenue.

"is that a deer?" i asked chuck.

it was. staring vacantly, sitting in a way that made him look like a deer amputee whose front limbs had been lopped off above his elbows. he didn't move, even when we were within a few feet of him. he was obviously hurt, if not fresh from surgery.

i called 911, which is my hobby. then took a photo, which is my other hobby. when another car rolled up behind us, i waved him through. first the driver stopped to talk about the deer, then he eased past slowly.

the car scared the deer, who tried to scamper out of the road, but instead flailed and tripped and dragged itself. that's when i started crying. the deer was sitting directly in the beam of the headlights, with scared brown eyes.

the policeman drove up. i explained to him that something was wrong with the deer. he misunderstood my blubbering and thought i had hit it.

"he's going to have to be put down," the policeman said.

i pictured us waiting until a DNR van rolled up, and four men in brown uniforms would hoist the deer into the back of the truck. take him out to a farm somewhere, feed him hot soup, cast up his broken limbs and mark his progress with knife engravings on the back of the barn door. if he didn't get better ... they'd cut the cord. but maybe he would. and we'd all stand by a fence sometime in april and watch him skip away like a college freshman, our eyes dewy with pride.

"okay, i just don't want anyone else to hit him," i said.

it took a few seconds, but then i understood that this policeman was going to 'put him down.' there was no farm.

"wait. are you going to do it?" i asked. "right now?"
"yes," he said.
"how?" i asked.
"i'm going to shoot him," he said. "do you want to watch?"

i did want to watch. when in my life would i get this opportunity to see something like this? i told him i was just going to park the car. in the meantime, he grabbed his rifle.

"why do you want to watch?" chuck asked as i backed up the car to park.
"because it's interesting," i said.

in a jolt i imagined exactly how it would unfold: that poor scared broken deer. the shotgun. it would sound like someone dropped a stack of bricks on asphalt. then, the after echo of nothing. the deer's head thudding to rest on the pavement. ...

"wait," i said. "i don't want to see this. i don't want to see this at all."

i put the car in reverse and drove to the next side street. i turned around and sped off. i had to turn around in a parking lot. back on redruth street again, a few blocks away, i glanced in the direction of the deer, then looked away quickly. by now i was a weepy mess of snot and drool and could hardly breathe. it was horrible.

so ... apparently i like animals.


kristabella said...

Oh, I'm so glad you didn't watch. That would be traumatizing.

And why isn't there a farm?

CDP said...

Oh dear. My husband (police officer) had to do that 2 or 3 years ago; a deer had been hit and was half-dead in the road. He's not sentimental, but it really upset him. It would have been so cruel, though, to leave the poor thing lying cold and in pain.

Miss Kate said...

Oh gosh. That's so sad. A similar situation happened to me as I left work a couple of months ago. (Company Q backs up to a big expanse of woods/meadows and deer are everywhere, and most of the time I hate them because they eat all of the landscaping that I so carefully planned.) Anyway, I couldn't stay to watch the shooting either. My deer was a doe and she had awful terrified eyes. I don't object to our freezer full of venison (I do refuse to cook with it) but the doe in the road felt different.