I hit a deer last night. Or it hit me, to be more accurate. I had taken White’s ferry across the Potamac, and was driving up Maryland route 109, which is a small back road connecting the ferry to I-70. I was zipping through a particularly lonely patch, with woods on one side close up against the edge of the road, and a cornfield on the other. Instantly, a doe appeared in front of the car.
It’s true that when you’re target shooting, you know whether or not you’re going to hit the bullseye before you’ve finished pulling the trigger, and I think the deer knew that she wasn’t going to make it. Her neck was stretched out and her gaze was fixed on the far side of the road, and then she vanished with two loud “thumps” and I was busy trying to keep the car steady and slow to a stop. There wasn’t a tremendous impact, just the loud noises.
I rolled over to the side of the road and looked at the car. There was deer fur caught in the hood latches and the headlight covers. It was coarse and white, and looked as if it had been trimmed by a barber. The damage to the car wasn’t too bad; the hood was crumpled and the right mirror was hanging by its control cable, but the engine ran fine and I still had one headlight.
I drove back the other way to see if I could find the doe, but she had vanished. I feel really sad about that; I probably didn’t hit her hard enough to kill her outright, but I’m sure she’s an eventual goner. Occasionally, Kate and I will come home to find Squeaky the Cat tormeting a mouse. If the mouse looks like a goner, I’ll quickly finish it off. I don’t feel bad about that; it’s all a part of Life’s Rich Pageant, and I’m doing the mouse a favor. Cars, however, are not a part of nature, not even “nature, red in tooth and claw”, and I feel bad that the deer wasn’t equipped to deal with big beige American things going too fast on back roads.
On a more cheerful note, Avis swapped the car for me without any complaints; in fact, they were very sympathetic. And they all congratulated me on signing up for the Loss & Damage Waiver. Fifteen minutes after arriving, I was driving away in an Oldsmobile Alero with the same CD on the stereo.
The other thing I’m grateful for is that I wasn’t on a motorcycle. I’ve heard lots of stories from Kate’s dad and his motorcycle buddies about deer materializing out of thin air on back roads, and now that I’ve seen it I’ll never top 45 after dusk. Maybe I’ll take Genevieve’s suggestion and switch to an all-Venison diet!
Oh, and I found a use for the 48 Butterfinger bars that were left over from Halloween. I had them in the trunk (to make late-night depradations more difficult), so I gave them to the BWI Airport Avis car cleaning staff. There were five guys, and they were pretty happy about it. One of them had been mugged on the way to work, and he had two fresh cuts on his face. The arrival of an obscene amount of Butterfingers seemed to cheer him up no end, though.
Kind of a weird night, all in all.