Trying to Dispose of the Deerly Departed

I had never seen a real life deer until a few years ago. I’d seen their heads mounted on the walls my grandfather’s office, but I’d never seen them when they were like breathing and junk. That was until a few years ago when I moved out to Bastrop. A life spent in suburbs hadn’t yielded more than a raccoon sighting and suddenly I was living in the woods and had whole herds of deer passing through my yard every evening.

My dad would always wake me up early when I was home from school to stare in awe as a handful of does wandered around in the morning dew before he left for work. My whole family would routinely stare for hours in quiet reverence anytime we saw even the hint of a deer. Most people who routinely deal with deer grow to see them as sort of a nuisance over time, but we have yet to outgrow the magic.

Which is why it was so heartbreaking to drive up to my house one evening and find a fully grown deer literally dead on my doorstep.

Admittedly I did not really know what to do. I made a list of any mob bosses I may have pissed off who would be sending me some sort of message, but I haven’t really gambled since LSU baseball camp when I was 12 and I know I owed Derrick some Snickers but this was a bit excessive and several years too late. No this proofed to be just some random occurrence. No blood, no signs of struggle. Just a dead deer, half in the grass, half on the concrete porch.

Once the initial shock passed, I may have cried for a bit and read a Robert Frost poem on the deer’s behalf. But then I just stood their, looking at this majestic creature and it dawned on me that I had to figure out what to do with her. I’ve never disposed of a body that was larger than a cockroach and even then my practices aren’t efficient in any way.

To make matters worse, I was home alone of course. My parents were both at work. I called my mom first. She grew up on farms and it was her dad who was the prolific deer hunter. But she wasn’t very helpful. She just sounded like she wanted nothing to do with it. So she told me to call my dad.

Now I’ve never known my dad to so much as pet a dog lot less know how to get rid of unwanted large game. But I called him anyway because that’s what I do in a crisis. And the longer this deer sat outside and I started to thing of the unwanted coyote action that was sure to come, this event was turning into a crisis.

His suggestion was to call the game warden. So I looked it up and of course they were away from the office because it was six o’clock and I did not alert them that I would be having a dead deer problem during office hours. So I called my dad back after much useless searching and struggling for loopholes and lucky breaks.

His next suggestion would be to call 911. I think he meant the non-emergency line, if there is a thing, but whatever, he said call 911 and tell them what was up.

I’d never called 911 in my life. I was afraid of any phone number that had a 1 follow a 9 for fear of accidentally calling the cops and being arrested for pranking the emergency line. You could tell I was desperate to get rid of this rotting animal, because as a rule I sort of don’t do about 98% of what my dad tells me to do. “Law school? Nah, I’m gonna make a living writing stories that make fun of you.” But when he said, “Call 911” I hesitated for a record three seconds before sighing and dialing those dreaded numbers.

The phone barely made it through one ring before a woman hastily answered it. “What is your emergency,” she asked, in a crisp, authoritative voice.

Did “dead deer in my yard” qualify as an emergency? Unless you shot the deer as some sort of revenge for it killing a close family member that evening, I highly doubted it. So I just sort of laughed. Which is not the way to make a good impression with an emergency professional.

“Well, no, it’s not really an emergency,” I stammered, but tried to make it sound like some quirky mix-up. Like if she could see the delightfully puzzled expression on my face, she would have totally understood. “It’s just that we have a deer that died on my porch and I called my dad and he said to call 911 and I thought it was sort of silly but I was hoping you could help me.”

I could hear in her voice that she hated everything about me in that moment. “You have to leave this line open to actual emergencies,” she said in a brutally short fashion. “Call the non-emergency line.” She quickly rattled off a phone number that I did not catch at all and hung up the phone without a further word. I’m sure if she could have told me to fuck off before hanging up, she totally would have.

So I was out of ideas and my mom was now coming up the driveway. I met her at the door as she tiptoed around the corpse. After much deliberating we knew that we had to at least drag the deer away from the house because I was in no way prepared to fight a bobcat, although I spend a lot of time thinking that of all the predators out their, I could probably punch a bobcat the easiest. The only problem was that neither of us were willing to touch the deer.

My mom finally decided to call work to see if she could get one of those hearty Texas men or women to come and help us city folk out of our dilemma. They just laughed at us. Apparently they all found it quite silly that we could not simply drag a deer corpse away. Like that was just a normal thing.

Finally one of her coworkers took pity on us and came and collected the deer. I don’t want to theorize to what he did before he worked for a car dealership, but the way he effortlessly gathered the deer in a sheet, threw it in his trunk, and dropped it somewhere in the woods, made me think that he’d done that before.

I’ve never been a hunter and I have no desire to be. That was the closest I ever wish to be to a dead deer that was not being served to me on a plate.

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A Completely Unnecessary Vow

Let’s face it, writing is difficult. It takes a lot of self discipline and motivation to consistently sit at a blank page and say, “Hey, I’m gonna turn a bunch of crazy brain thoughts into literature.” Especially when it comes to long-form fiction where fatigue can often derail a project long before its truly done. But those truly dedicated to their craft always find ways to keep their head in the game in order to complete their projects. For example, during my sophomore year of high school I took a vow of silence until I finished writing the play I was working on.

Now I don’t know how a 15 year-old stumbles onto the idea of taking a vow of silence and I especially don’t know why I would think this would be a good idea. But needless to say on one random Thursday, in the middle of school mind you, I decided, “Hey, this stupid play I’m writing is way more important than the ability to verbally communicate with my peers.”

Two things to know: 1.) I don’t remember what play I was writing. I’m not sure I even have it anymore. So this story won’t go down in my official biography as the breakthrough moment on my way to a Nobel Prize. 2.) I was very quiet during high school, particularly during sophomore year when I had very very few friends, but it is 95% impossible to survive a day in a public high school once you’ve voluntarily and inexplicably gone mute.

I was able to get through half a day of silence with no problems. My vow was taken some time during my final period of the day on Thursday. I couldn’t stand the den of chaos that was my Spanish II class, so there was no reason for me to talk during that class and the evening bus ride home was always spent with my headphones deeply implanted in my ears and staring at Kelsey Snavely with wide, unblinking eyes.

My parents worked late that night so the vow of silence at least kept me from talking to myself which was an unexpected godsend.

Day two was a little harder.

I don’t know how I managed to get through the morning drive to school with my dad without saying a word, but I know it was done somehow. Maybe I wrote a note that was like, “In the pursuit of fulfilling my dreams as a playwright, I am currently engaging in a vow of silence until my masterpiece has been completed. I regret to inform you that our usually scheduled awkward banter must be postponed until further notice.” Or he could have just thought I was being a dick because I was 15 and that’s kind of what I did. I mean, I didn’t have a rebellious phase. I was just sort of a moody prick sometimes.

My first period was Biology. That was easy enough to get through. I usually just kept my head down and stared, unblinkingly, at Trina Baker. Honestly, I was able to get through most of the day because I was the quiet kid that just wrote in his notebook all the time. Everyone just hoped I was writing elaborate murder plots.

But there were hairier moments that were harder to get around. In classes like Journalism and Geometry I actually had a handful of acquaintances and small talk was somewhat expected. I had a tiny little flip notebook that I would scribble vague apologies and half-assed attempts to explain what it was that I was actually doing. It was met with a lot eye rolling and some judgey-laughter but mostly they were pretty cool with it. Which was good because I needed allies for when teachers would call on me in class.

Out of seven classes, I was forced to answer questions during lectures. I would quietly scream inside and then scribble down the answer (most of the time, the wrong answer) into my notebook and my friend would have to stand in front of the class and explain why they were the one reading my wrong answer. It mostly went, “Chase is doing some dumb writer thing so he’s not talking, but he thinks X is 72, but its not. Sorry Mrs. O.” And people the whole class would laugh at me and say dumb things and I would have to have to grit my teeth and know that this was in the pursuit of art.

I could limp my through most of the day, but then I had an unexpected quiz during seventh period. The kids at my table had asked why I wasn’t talking and I went through the, now tired exercise of explaining what was happening. They were oddly supportive, which would be helpful for when I had a question mid-quiz.

We all had our heads down deliberating over the subtler points of conjugation when I reached a  point that I simply could not get passed. I looked around frantically. Hoping to cheat, maybe. Anything but having to raise my hand and figure out how to talk to Ms. Rivera, who still terrifies me to this day.

But I couldn’t figure it out and so I had to raise my hand. She was on the other side of the room and when she saw my hand in the air, she simply said, “Yes? What is it?” I tried to wave her over but she was reluctant to move. “What is it?”

Then one of my table mate spoke up, “Chase isn’t talking today.”

She walked over with a huff and stood next to me. “What do you mean you’re not talking today?” I shrugged. “What does that mean?” I wrote on the side of my quiz. “I’m trying to finish my play.” But for some reason that wasn’t enough of an answer for her.

I tried to ignore her questions and write the question that I had on the side of the paper, but she was not interested in reading it or playing along with my insane theater of dorkiness. After a few minutes of squirming, I finally whispered the first words I’d spoken aloud in 24 hours. She quickly and dismissively answered my question and I went on to stumble my way to a C on the quiz. But the magic and the vow were broken.

So my challenge only lasted for about a day. It was as valiant an endeavor as it was stupid. But hey, I think I finished the play, I seriously don’t remember. Even if I did finish the play, I certainly did not finish it in that microscopic timeframe.

Any writer has moments where they struggle to get themselves through a piece. Discipline is one of the most valuable tools in their toolbox. As I sit down to my work everyday and stare and the ever expanding list of stories and novels that I desperately want to write, I pray that I quickly find that miracle mixture of determination and patience that will allow me to start, lot less finish, these projects.

A vow of silence may not have been the answer, but I will find it soon enough.