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I hope you enjoy my short story “Oh, Deer”
The guys stood around talking about work, vehicles, and whatever else came up in the conversation. Seeing that the women were paying them no mind, the three male friends decided to shoot some pool.
Jacob was glad for the distraction his friends supplied, instead of being focused on looming thoughts of deer and the afternoon’s illegal activity. After several games of pool, the guys rejoined the women. The group sat around, talking, laughing and drinking; everyone seemed to be having a good time.
“Want a refill?” Mark asked noticing that Jacob’s glass was empty.
“Nope, I was just gonna head over to the bar and ask Red for a soda. I’m driving tonight, so time to quit with the beer,” Jacob said getting up.
“Hey, I’ll go with you,” Bull said as he got up to join Jacob in going up to the bar.
“Aw shit, might as well wait for me, I don’t want to sit here alone with the ladies,” Mark said trying to sound disgruntled, “On second thought, maybe I will stay here.” The women giggled as they protested. Mark tried to feign being hurt by their remarks, “Fine, I know when I’m not wanted.” He exaggerated his exit by sticking his nose up in the air and left in a huff. The women’s laughter followed him as he joined his friends at the bar.
After the fellows had been given their order of two soda’s and another beer for Mark, Red pulled up a bar stool on the opposite side of the bar to sit and talk with the boys for a spell.
“You going hunting this year, Jacob?” Red asked in his deep, gruff sounding voice.
“Planning on it. Even thinking about bow hunting this year too,” Jacob replied.
“You still having problems with them deer?” Mark asked, as he took a drink from his glass.
“Oh yeah,” was all Jacob said. He wished the subject of hunting and deer hadn’t come up.
“What sort of problems you having?” Red inquired.
“Mostly they’re driving Donna nuts eating all her plants and the garden. They’ve eaten everything in sight it seems. The other night, I swear there was a herd of them in the yard, they were outside every window,” Jacob shared with the men. He halted his recollection there, not wanting to say a word about the eyes of the animals. Jacob took a drink of his soda, and as he did so his eyes met those of Red. The large sized man was looking at him quite intensely, as if searching for something more from him.
“A whole herd you say?” Red started, continuing with the inquisitive piercing look. “Anything else seem out of the ordinary, son?”
Jacob was surprised by the question he’d just been asked. He was beginning to think, Red was interested in more than the average white-tailed deer story, swapping. Still, not wanting to confess what he had witnessed for fear of being thought of as crazy, Jacob simply turned the conversation back to Red by stating, “What do you mean?”
“Did I stutter, boy? I asked if anything else seemed odd, or out of the ordinary,” Red repeated in a voice that told Jacob he was quite serious about the subject. Jacob didn’t answer. His self-proclaimed need for looking sane, kept him from saying more. He broke eye contact with Red and took another drink of the cool beverage. There was no way he could explain to these men what he saw when he looked at the deer’s eyes.
“What you getting at Dad?” Bull inquired. “Seems there are a few folks having some problems with deer on that side of town. I was over at Steve’s last week, he was bitching about the deer too,” Bull continued.
“Yep, I’ve heard the same thing,” Mark interjected, “Dave Harper was just complaining earlier tonight about them causing damage to his corn field.”
Jacob remained silent. As he looked up from his glass, he saw Red glance at each one of the younger men. When he finally spoke, it was with a voice of wisdom and authority.
“There is a story my great-grandfather told me long ago, about the white-tailed deer in these parts.” Red’s eyes showed that his mind had now traveled to a time long ago, as he paused briefly before speaking again.
“It is said that many Native American tribes of the Mid-west believe that deer, because of their forked antlers, represented choices. The white-tailed deer were thought of as a helper to our tribes. Our fore-father’s lives were dependent on the white-tailed deer in these parts for everything; clothing, food, tools, even for making our shelters.” Red stopped, taking a drink of his bottled water, noticing he had the young men’s full attention. Jacob especially seemed to hang on every word that Red was now speaking.
“Go on,” urged Jacob.
With a satisfied smile on his lips, Red continued. “The deer became symbolic of our life source. They were respected and only hunted out of necessity. The stag was particularly respected. It is believed by many, that their antlers showed solitary, nobility, honor, and a strong commitment to the protection of the herd. They are also considered a symbol of sexuality. The male mates with many females in his herd in order to carry on his pedigree. It is said stags keep the balance of law and justice within their herd. The female deer is associated with gentleness, sensitivity, graceful beauty, innocence, and keen observation.”
“Yeah, nothing gets past the female of any species apparently,” Bull joked. “I’ll tell ya, Cindy never misses a damn thing. The Creator should have given the males ‘keen observation’ instead,” Bull continued with a laugh. He knew he had crossed a line, when he saw the look of disappointment mixed with disapproval on his father’s face.
“Sorry,” Bull apologized to his dad, while looking down at the bar. Red looked from Mark to Jacob, speaking once more, “Because of their well-developed senses, it is believed that deer can see through illusions and guide the other forest animals in chaotic situations in nature. The Creator mirrored everything in nature. Good and evil, male and female, it is found in all that exists. For many years things remained in balance between our people and nature.
For more from the story check out the “Oh, Deer” page on this blog!
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