Sunday, November 6, 2011

A very short story from last spring

An afternoon on the reading Porch

The breeze from the ceiling fan washed over me. The only sound was the rustling of the creek, just at the edge of our property, briskly rushing down the mountain towards Lake Blue Ridge. The soft clicking of the poplar leaves in the adjacent trees added to the softness of the afternoon. Nothing could have been more bucolic and perfectly tranquil that afternoon, lying on the napping bed on the front screened in porch reading my latest book. Sleep would over take me as surely as the marauding squirrels would steal the sunflower seed from the bird feeder hanging just outside the screen wire. I noticed the silent hornets dodging around the hummingbird feeder as my eyes slowly closed. Sleep claimed me in its dark arms and unconsciousness enveloped me. I slept.

Sleeping soundly I dreamed I was in heavy traffic coming through Atlanta on I-75 in my Jeep and someone behind me was insistently blowing the horn of their car. It was very regular and extremely annoying, beep, beep, beep. The sound slowly roused me from a sleep that felt almost drug induced. Coming to I realized the horn being blown so regularly was not a car horn at all but an insistently barking dog. It was Jesse, my Dalmatian and he was hysterically barking as he usually did when a timber rattlesnake or a copperhead was in the vicinity. Groggily I rolled myself off the small bed and started for the door. The book I was reading fell onto the small table by the bed and continued on, overturning a half finished glass of sweet iced tea on its way to the floor. Looking through the screen and dense foliage I could see Jesse’s white spotted body dodging and lunging through the bushes, definitely in the pursuit of something. I saw no snake but knew I had to go investigate anyway. Having no direct exit from the screened porch I walked through the house to the front door and went down to the front yard, grabbing a hoe on my way just in case it was a poisonous snake that was causing all the commotion.

Rounding the vegetation filled space just beyond the porch I saw Jesse jerkily attacking something. It took me a minute to realize that it was no snake but a baby deer with spots covering his small body. Bambi! He was somehow hung in the fence surrounding the vegetable garden. The lumps on his head where antlers would eventually grow had been pushed with such force as he struggled to escape the dog that they had become wedged between two of the stiff rectangular parallel wires in the fence. Grabbing a handful of dirt I threw it into Jesse’s face. He briefly ceased his barking and retreated a few steps shaking his head. I looked at the small deer hung in the fence and tried to understand just what had happened. The bony humps had spread the wires with such force that they briefly allowed the apex of his head to slip through the small opening. They sprang back after that portion of his head passed through and held him fast in the grip of the fence, within Jesse’s reach. Moving to the head area of the now hysterical deer I carefully grasp his neck and pulled gently trying not to frighten him any more than he already was. He could not be extricated from the fence’s unexpected embrace by my hands no matter how hard I pulled. He would certainly be killed by the dogs or by shock if I could not remove him. Finally in desperation I moved to the back end of the small animal’s body and grabbed him by his spotted rump and began to pull. As it turned out this was not such a wise position to occupy on an animal with hooves, no matter how small he was. What followed is somewhat of a blurry conjecture to me but piecing it together following the incident this is what I assume happened. Suddenly and without warning the small apparently defenseless animal kicked me in the middle of the chest with such force that it propelled me backward into the adjacent bushes. This I assume because of the two perfectly round purple bruises I found in the middle of my chest later that afternoon, one on each side of my sternum.

Not knowing just how long I had been lying in the bushes I looked over at the place where the deer had been hung in the fence. He was gone and Jesse was sitting there looking at me intently. There was no sign of the deer, unless you count the dark purple stained places in the middle of my chest. Returning to the front porch I had visions of the Road runner and Wile E. Coyote and had a great deal more sympathy for him than I had ever felt before. Also that Walt Disney “Bambi” movie took on a whole different meaning for me and should be re-titled…."Bambi, the beast from Hell" or ”Godzilla” or something more appropriate and not so misleading.


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