Oh, Deer Me

by Mike Savage

The black shadow ahead on the right moved south.

“This could get ugly,” I thought.

Shadows moving on their own accord. Not good. Shadows moving south in front of an eastbound motorcycle at speed. Can be especially bad.

I was on the brakes instantly and heavily.

As the handlebars took a dive worthy of Greg Louganis, the shadow transmogrified into a big-racked whitetail buck who had it in his dim head to be anywhere south of where he was.

The animal’s big frame lowered and flattened as every muscle in its broad flank launched itself like a shoulder-fired SAM out of the ditch.

“This is what covering the brake lever is all about,” I thought as the whole bike shuddered from the pressure of maximum braking.

I thought of the couple from Carlton, Minnesota who hit a deer. She died. Readying for impact I recalled the husband and wife on their Goldwing who hit a moose at speed north of Duluth. Both dead.

A blur of antlers, thick in velvet. The rippling flank of brown fur flowing like dirty water over lean, flexing, cordlike muscles looking like ropes. So close. So close the quivering flank seemed touchable. And the clatter of his hooves. The semi-soft rattle on the cold, morning blacktop. Like pool balls ricocheting. Like nails raining into a can. Up on the rooftop, click, click, click. Like old vinyl records shattering.

The tendons and muscles in my shoulders vibrated like screeching violin strings as the front forks bottomed out and transmitted the peril of the stop.

Missed him by inches.

The clatter/scrape of his hooves as he skid/skated across the left lane

And he was gone.

And I resumed breathing. And the bike rolled free.

Accelerating away, the sound of those black cloven hooves rattling on the cold blacktop reverberated in my head. Rolling the throttle back on, the utter lack of time to steer out of harm’s way astonished.

Illusion of control shattered. The supreme suddenness with which danger can appear. The foolishness of confidence in my riding abilities. Certain situations, no competency can redeem.

It happened so fast my pulse didn’t elevate. Though my nostrils stung.

It was a split-second of infinity. Of contact with a knowing. Knowing that destiny, destiny is real. It wasn’t that buck’s day to become venison and it wasn’t my day to go down breaking and crashing and bleeding.


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