10:54 pm

For the Deer

One thing they never teach you in school is what to do after you've killed something.

I was driving home tonight, and hit a deer with my car. Almost missed her, but at the last second, she ducked the wrong way, and I clipped her in the head.
Running up to her moments later, seeing the pool of blood, feeling her heartbeat racing under my hand, her warmth...I was completely powerless to do anything.
Just sit there, wave the traffic around us, and stay with her while she died.

They just don't teach you how to deal with stuff like that. What the hell are you supposed to do?
I tried to comfort her. I apologized to her, for what little good it might do. I tried to pull her off the road a bit, and she kicked her legs, reactively.
I tried to close her eyes, several times. They wouldn't stay shut.

So there I sat, by the edge of the road, trying like mad to pour my energy into the being I'd just killed. Knowing that I simply didn't know how to make things right again. I pulled off two ticks that were fat from her blood, and threw them into the darkness. What right did they have to be there? It seemed insulting to leave them.

On the short drive home, I had several good screams, but they didn't help all that much.
I thought about getting good and drunk, but I knew that wouldn't be healthy for me, not at all. And anyway, I still had to report the killing.

So I call up the police.
"Is it an emergency?" the woman asks me.
"No." I reply "I hit a deer on the way home."
"Oh, then you should call the Highway Patrol."

So I did. It was busy. For 20 minutes.

I finally gave up, and called the local-ish department.

"I killed a deer on the way home. I wanted to report it."
"Is it dead?"
"Yes. I stayed with her until her heart stopped beating."
"Is it blocking traffic?"
"No. I pulled her off to the side of the road."
"Well, I'll notify Animal Control tomorrow, so they can pick it up. Just so long as it's not posing a traffic hazzard."
I gave her the location of the body and hung up.

Upstairs, I sat and reflected...mourned...cried. What have I learned from this? What did the dear deer teach me? What would I take away from this experience that I could share with my fellow people?

I realized, with a sort of wry, sad humor, the whole notion of scale, and of "traffic."
If that had been a human being, it would have caused considerably more of a flap. Witness the OJ Simpson case, and all the garbage that has sprung up from that. Regardless of who did it, humans died, and much "traffic" has been obstructed.
If it had been a mosquito, I may have hardly even noticed, and almost certainly wouldn't be sitting here writing this now, to share with my fellow humans.
But it wasn't just a mosquito. It was a deer. A gorgeous, warm-blooded, vertebrate mammal. Quite high up the evolutionary chain, quite large, and fairly heavy. With great, big, beautiful eyes that wouldn't close.

Hear me, fellow humans, for I have killed something tonight. I haven't the power to bring her back. I haven't the knowlege, nor the ability. There's really nothing I can do to make up for it. I certainly can't make another deer.

I continued to think about scaling and "traffic." When the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, was that because they were obstructing "traffic?" I read this morning about the former city of Grozny, which the Russians have completely destroyed, burying thousands of corpses...human corpses...in large mass-graves and ditches by the roadside.
Apparently, those people were blocking "traffic", too.

Hear me, please. If you've never killed something large and warm-blooded, you may not be able to relate (I hope you never have to), and if you _have_ done so, then perhaps you understand:

The killing needs to stop.
The fighting needs to stop.
The wars need to stop.
The hatred needs to stop.

They didn't teach me how to handle killing in school. My mom never prepared me for feeling a heart stop beating and knowing that I was the one responsible for it. Just me. No one else.

Maybe I just didn't go to the right school. There are plenty of them out there, training young men and women in all the most effective ways of killing each other. With all the latest toys and gadgets. And do you know what?

You're paying their tutition.

It's time to wake up. It's time for the nightmares to stop around the world, and it's time for our collective "traffic" of so-called "civilization" to stop driving over one-another, and start paying attention.

Why the HELL is everyone so concerned about the OJ Simpson case, but they overlook a couple of hundred-thousand dead or homeless people in Grozny? Or any of the other places being bombed on a daily basis?

I don't pretend to have all the answers. I've just been handed a new bagful of questions. But I wanted to commit some of my thoughts to words, and cast them out upon the electronic sea that our cultures have built.
I wanted to make sure that the deer I killed tonight wasn't forgotten, and that perhaps some of the lessons she taught me in the past 2 hours might bring about some good in our world.

Please feel free to pass this note around. Maybe we can all learn something from it. I certainly have.

To life. :-)


_____________________________Think For Yourself______________________________
Patrick G. Salsbury salsbury@sculptors.com
Don't break the Law...fix it. ;^)


Patrick Salsbury

Most Recent Update: 06/22/97