Deer in the Headlights

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Every morning when I wake up, I do some mental sorting out – usually along the lines of remembering that I am alone now in the house, thinking of things I have to do like grocery shop and work related duties. Before I could not do this because the minute my eyes would fly open, my dogs would be awake and to prevent having to clean up accidents, I would have jump into some clothes of any description, find shoes, tear down the stairs, snap leashes on their necks and then open the door barely in time to keep Ms. Manchester from piddling on the floor in the hallway. About a year ago I started putting all three dogs into crates at night, not sharing my bed with them, and we have ALL been sleeping better. I have time to get properly dressed (if you count striped pj bottoms and a sweatshirt) and control the stampede down the stairs. There have been LOTS fewer accidents.

This morning was no different – a little sniffling about the alone situation, happy dogs excited about another day here in heaven, and out the door to greet the day. It’s been raining for days but this morning the grass was lush and green, the sky was bright, and, all in all, it was a good way to wake up.

Because of some construction, we (me and the dog-tourage) go out the front door – Big American Bull Dog on a pink leash, Little Manchester on a blue leash, Old Jack Russell NOT on a leash. The control of the dogs on the leashes is a fanciful ballet of high kicks and slipped discs. OJR can not be on a leash because of his terrible accident as a puppy when he was kicked by one of the horses and survived a head injury, which left him with short term memory loss and small seizures. Don’t feel bad for him – he wakes up every day in this Dog Heaven and says to himself HEY WE HAVE A BARN! and it’s all gravy from there. But he can not wear a leash because even if we put the thinnest gossamer thread of a leash on him, the minute we attach it to his collar he falls over. We don’t know why, but it’s not funny any more so we just try to keep track of him. The other two – well, they have bad habits that involve chasing livestock or attacking animals larger than themselves and need the control til they get to the fenced dog play yard.

As I have said, this morning we leave the front door without incident (by the time you get to the bottom of this post you will be wondering WHY at that very minute I did not KNOW something was WRONG – having Three Very Active Noses working) and head to the dog play yard. The goats are in their adjacent play yard, and there is some fence jousting and threats and intimidation on both sides but it never goes anywhere. Big Yellow Horse and Big Brown Horse give a glance and head for the pasture. Ripper and the grandkids usually arrive to catch the bus before I get out, and they let the chickens out (again, you are going to wonder why THEY didn’t alert us). The Ugly White Rooster is on top of the chicken house crowing. An idyllic morning. Picture Perfect. Quiet.

Daughter-In-Law is out on the lawn with Youngest Grandson ready for the bus. He does his chicken count, DIL and I exchange bleary good mornings and lean over the fence watching the dogs and the goats and the horses and the chickens, and in general, accessing the very good life that God has given us. We go back in THE FRONT DOOR (again, completely clueless as to what is around us) and sit on the sofa and start to wonder why the traffic is going past the house sooooo sllllooowwwly.

In fact, I remark on it. “Look, that car is going past the house realllllly sloooowly.”

DIL says, “Of course it is. Our house looks like crazy people live here – with all the construction, with the bucket truck stuck in the porch like a permanent fixture, I am sure there are people for whom a highlight of any given weekday morning is checking out the latest crazy crap that is going on here blah blah blah …” My attention is momentarily diverted to the TV where they have just announced that the average woman eats an 450 extra calories between Friday evening and Sunday night. 450? That’s like ten calories an hour. Big deal.

I am pulled back into conversation with DIL when she says something about having to pick up a trumpet for Youngest Grandson. I say, I thought he played the violin. She says, NOW he wants to play the trumpet so she has to go to Reading to pick this trumpet up, and she wants to know if I can go with her because she doesn’t know where she is going.

I say, Use your GPS. She says, Well, somehow a penny got down the cigarette lighter thingie and shorted it out, and she can’t plug the GPS I gave her for her birthday in.

I said, I thought My Son Your Husband fixed that. She says, He did. But it happened again. Sigh.

I have a business appointment at 11 am, so I can’t go to Reading to pick up a trumpet, but I suggest that she go to my car (parked next to the front door because it was raining so hard when I got home the day before I just pulled it up on the lawn), plug my GPS in, and then it will be charged and she can take it with her when she leaves.

Another car crawls by the front of the house.

DIL says that is a great idea and goes out the front door. I go to get a cuppa tea. Seconds later, she is back in and says …

“I don’t know how to say this. Get your shoes on and come outside.”

Through the window I can see another car slowing down and then speeding up, and the driver shaking his head.

I say, “No.”

She says, “Get your camera, get your shoes on and come outside.”

She sees me hesitating and knows I am going to need to know something, anything, that will help me walk the twenty four feet from my kitchen to the front door and out to see the thing that requires shoes and a camera.

She says, “There is a dead deer stuck under your car.”

Well, now. It’s not a horse, it’s not a dog. Thank God it’s not a child. Not pleasant. But not a tragedy. (For those of you NOT from this area, deer are like rats with antlers, wandering around roadways, killing innocent drivers, causing untold millions of dollars worth of property damage, spreading lyme disease, ruining crops. Our native deer are three times the size of the ones our forefathers found when they came to this country, because most of them are cornfed scavengers.)

We walk out together and sure enough, there is a deer stuck under my car. Not just any deer. The BIGGEST, HUGEST, MALE DEER I have ever seen. In perfect condition. With one, two, three, OH MY GOD seven points! (How you measure antlers.) A spread of about eighteen inches. She says, “This wasn’t here when you parked last night, was it?” Just the first of many questions I will be asked about this situation which will give me insight into what people think I am capable of.

No. It was not there when I parked my car last night. And, NO, even though the bedroom where I sleep is under thirty feet from this scene, I didn’t hear anything. And furthermore, doesn’t she think I would have MENTIONED it?

Best guess, someone ELSE hit the poor thing and it was thrown or projected off the roadway into my car. And even though like most things in life there are no answers, and since neither of us are really sure what we are supposed to do at this moment, we wander around it, look at it from a lot of different angles, talk a lot of speculation and take a lot of pictures. We make our best guesses regarding the bloating of the corpse and turgidity and the time of death (DIL practically grew up in a funeral parlor and I watch a lot of court tv so we both can make pretty educated hunches). We look for drag or hoof prints in my soggy lawn. We count those antler points. We wonder WHY the dogs didn’t react to several hundred pounds of fresh roadkill virtually beneath their noses. And then we start making the phone calls and sending the pictures.

DIL calls My Son, sends him a picture to prove she’s not hallucinating, and he says he is on his way. (As wife, she trumps mother when it comes to giving news.) She calls her brother-in-law, Hunter/Gatherer and sends him a picture. She calls her father, also Hunter/Gatherer. He doesn’t have a phone that will accept pictures, but he runs around his workplace finding someone who can get an email – because you just can’t have this happen without sending pictures. So we send him a picture. All these Hunter/Gatherers have been sitting in tree blinds freezing their asses off for years to bag a specimen like this, and I have one thrown on to my lawn. The irony escapes no one.

I call my appointment and leave a long, confusing and absurdly neurotic message about deer and my car and I can’t move it and not being able to put time constraints on this situation so I will have to call them later to reschedule. Patient And Amused Male Business Partner calls coincidentally to discuss something entirely different, and when I explain I can’t move the car because of the dead deer stuck under it, he says, “Well, it’s already dead. Just back up. You can’t really hurt it now.” This makes me gag for about three minutes, and he hangs up, saying he will call back later – I told him I would send him the pictures so he can understand the situation better.

And then my phone rings and it’s Wonderful Neighborwoman. She says, “Rodeo, Did you shoot that thing?”

I say, “Noooooo.” We have a very intense conversation about when she went by she thought I shot it or that I hit it or that I something’d it. That maybe the Crazy Cat Lady next door put it there. That makes us both laugh.

Meanwhile DIL is arranging to have the deer taken away, which is something I haven’t even thought of. I tell her I want the antlers. I want them mounted. I explain that God gave me the deer, and I want those antlers over my fireplace, right above my rifle (which I have never used to shoot anything), and I want to be able to point at them and tell the story over and over for years.

She says, “You are not keeping that deer. You know what will happen. That head will just go in the freezer and never come out.”

Meanwhile, My Son Her Husband arrives at the very second that a flatbed truck with an earthmover pulls off the road just feet from the deer. A skinny young man in a John Deere (!) hat asks, Hey, can I have that deer?

My Son says, Yes. I say, No.

My Son says, You don’t want that deer. No one will take it away if they can’t have the head. And you know what will happen, that head will go in the freezer and never come out.

You leave a couple of animal bodies in the freezer for a couple of months and your family never lets you forget it.

I feel genuinely sad as my son and this stranger drag the deer out from under the car and put it on the flat bed. The stranger is beyond excited. That cheers me a little. I hope he makes up a huge hunter’s lie about how he got this magnificent beast’s head.

All the excitement is over, and DIL and I adjourn to the kitchen table and are astounded at how two hours have past. Not only past, but we know this is not how most people have spent their morning. As My Son was leaving he shook his head and said, “You have to stop doing this. Things like this keep happening. Really.” He wasn’t blaming us, but the thought was not lost on us. We start trying to figure out why we have one domestic episode after another. We worry about what will happen tomorrow. DIL distances herself a little by reminding me that until she and My Son took what is now approaching custodial care of me, they lived a very tame life. She swears months would go by without anything happening. I need to come clean with you all and tell you that I don’t put one TENTH of the daily, unusual, crazy, unpredictable, bizarre things that happen here down in writing because frankly a lot of the times I am embarrassed because if I did, it would speak to the out of control, random direction my life takes ninety percent of the time, and no one would let me hug their children or pet their dogs for fear of some cosmic intervention that would wreak havoc on the innocents in proximity to me. I say to DIL, “While everyone is laughing, I am thinking I need some kind of chi-cleaning or something. Like an exorcism.”

She says, “We need a Priest.”

I say, “I was thinking of something more like an Asian spiritual monk, someone who would smudge smoke over me and waft away the evil spirits.”

DIL says, “Oh, no Rodeo. You need a Priest. They scare the crap out of Demons. You don’t want some Asian spiritual monk that just makes friends with it.”

Oh, Heck NO! We wouldn’t want THAT! Or maybe I would. Or maybe, this is the last time something like this will happen, as Karma or God or whoever moves on to amuse themselves with someone else.