“The Deer”

Uncle Jim shot deer. He went out into the woods and sat in trees for hours. When a deer came by, he would move his gun slightly. He would pull the trigger. If he was good, some part of the deer that made it alive would stop working and the deer would die.

Tonight Uncle Jim did not shoot deer. He stood on the porch in back of his new holiday house and watched them pace around in his backyard.

“Mphua!” he said. It was a deer call, which he made by puckering his lips together and sucking air into the small hole left between them.

The deer looked up at Uncle Jim and Aunt Louise and me. Then they looked back down again.

Uncle Jim went inside and came out with a sliced-up apple. He frisbeed a piece of apple off the deck.

The smaller deer sniffed toward it and picked it up with her agile tongue. “Like that, don’t you girl?” Uncle Jim said. He threw off the rest of the slices. Every time one landed, one of the deer

would eat it. When the apple was gone, the deer continued to pace around. We stood

on the back porch leaning with our forearms on the railing. “Are you doing that so you can shoot them later, Uncle Jim?” I asked. “No, no,” he said. “I’m just,” and he made a throwing motion with his arm.

*The next morning we took our breakfast out onto the porch and there were a hundred deer standing in the backyard. Some of them paced around. Some of them looked up at us every once in a while.

“Jesus Christ,” Uncle Jim said. “Look what you did,” said Aunt Louise. “Well,” said Uncle Jim. He set his breakfast down. “Get out of here! Skit! Skit!” he suddenly yelled. He went out the front

door and got small stones from the driveway. “Skit!” he said. “Skit!” He threw the stones at the deer. When the stones hit their tan hides, the deer leaped. Then they began to pace around again.

“What are you going to do?” Aunt Louise asked. “What am I going to do?” said Uncle Jim. He walked inside. He came back on the porch jingling his car keys. “I’ll be back,” he said.

*

It was a good thing Uncle Jim got back when he did. By the time he had driven down the mountain and back up it the deer had figured out how to get to the front door of the house and were now crowding us in Uncle Jim and Aunt Louise’s living room. We tried to shut the door, but they kept on filing in.

“For Christ’s sake,” said Aunt Louise, her legs propped on the bear-shaped ottoman.

I sat on the floor. “This is unprecedented.” “All those years your uncle’s spent hunting.” I nodded. “Never thought my living room would be filled with deer.” “It’s a nice house, Aunt Louise,” I said. “Do you like it? I like it too, honey.” She folded her hands in her lap. We sat there like that as the deer moseyed into her bedroom and knocked

over the television. One figured out how to open the sliding glass door and they started filling up the porch, too.

That was when we heard Uncle Jim’s car pull up. The door slammed. Out the window, we could see him carrying a gigantic bag of apples.

Dennis James Sweeney

About Dennis James Sweeney

Dennis Sweeney lives in Boulder, CO. His work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Juked, Mid-American Review, TriQuarterly Online, and elsewhere.