13. The Deer

ON MY WAY HOME from work, I ran into a deer. I pulled over and ran back to the animal, which was lying on its side on the side of the road, reddened in the darkness by the rear lights of the car. I could it gasping for breath painfully; a hind leg was very obviously broken. I then examined the front of my car – the front light was smashed. I knew no way of killing the animal quickly other than to run it over, so I drove on home, shaken. At home, everything was quiet, the girls long since asleep, and Misha turned in too. I prepared for bed. I don’t finish work until close to half eleven, and by the time I drive home it is invariably past one in the morning.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about the deer – a young doe, I think – and the sound of its loud, painful breathing, and the sight of that buckled leg. After an hour or so, I got out of bed, put on my jacket and slid into the car again. I had to go see that animal. It was still there, breathing laboriously by the side of the road, its breath coming out in long throaty jets of vapour in the beam of the car lights. There was nothing I could think to do, so I got back in the car. I was wired. There was no way I was going home.

I drove around to Patrick’s place and the light was on. The problem with having someone like Patrick as a lover is that you have to share him with others. Which others he will never tell you, and I’m the jealous type so I have to know, I can’t help myself. I switched off the engine and thought about the rights and wrongs of it for, I don’t know, maybe a whole ten seconds, then I got out and shut the door as quietly as I could and walked up to Patrick’s window.

The blinds were drawn but it was possible to catch glimpses of what was happening behind the blockout curtain. I could hear him talking, although it was hard to know if he was talking to someone in the room or if he was on the phone. At any rate I could only hear his voice, his deep baritone voice, murmuring sentences I couldn’t make out, and there were gaps in between. There may have been someone else in the room, I couldn’t be sure, if so it must have been someone with a quiet voice, or maybe they were in the next room. I spied no movement in the slivers between the blinds. I suddenly had an urge to punch the window, but I had a vision of shards of glass slicing open the veins in my wrist, so I bent down and found a loose brick in the pavement and threw it through the glass. I drove away with the car lights off.

In the rear view mirror, I saw Patrick stumble out into the cold in nothing but a tshirt and shorts, his silhouette receding, I hoped, to nothing.