(Marta Weller December 4, 2009)
We all have our own personal horror stories.
Our nighttime driving or country road horror stories.
But mine aren't nearly so graphic
nor so full of true horror as my father-in-law's.
I have had my brush with deer,
but each time that experience has been progressively less sinister
though no less eerie.
Imagine driving home from work, having to drive quite a distance. Driving along a country road that isn't terribly familiar but yet a road that is nice and broad and well-maintained. There seemed to be no other cars on the road that fall evening although it was not all that late. The moon was shining but not full and was at times obscured by clouds.
It was just very dark and lonely.
My car crested a small rise in the road
and as my headlights arced back down
to once again find the road -
there they were.
Two deer standing in my lane.
I slammed on my brakes and veered to the right of one, missing it entirely.
But in those elongated seconds, the other deer unfroze enough to try to get away. It turned back to the right side of the road -the way it had come- and as the one deer moved away from the other, I tried desperately to steer between them. But my little Jetta couldn't quite squeeze through the gap.
Although I missed the one on the left, the one still frozen,
I hit the moving one.
I heard the sickening thud and bump.
But my car kept going.
Nothing seemed to impede it.
My mind had now frozen like the deer's.
I was many miles yet from home.
There was no such thing as a cell phone.
I couldn't imagine leaving a deer in the middle of the road
for some other unsuspecting motorist to hit.
I drove slowly,
hands shaking but with a death grip on the steering wheel,
along the country road -
desperately looking for a house with lights on.
All my frozen mind could think of was
how to find a phone and
to find out what had happened to the deer.
After what felt like a mile but was probably only a few tenths of one, I found a house with a light in the window.
Did I pause to think of the other horror story?
The story of a woman alone, at night, with a broken-down car and the horrible things done to her by the strange man who stops to 'help'?
No, my mind was frozen.
My mind was fixated on finding someone to help.
I pulled into that stranger's driveway. I got out of my car and walked along that dark sidewalk to the door of that strange house. The house with no porch light but with a light on inside. I knocked on the door. And waited with a pounding heart.
No porch light came on, but a man opened the door.
I looked up into that strange man's face, dimly lit from behind and I told him,
"I hit a deer, just down the road a ways. I'm okay, I think my car is okay, but I want to make sure the deer isn't a hazard. Can you help me?"
The stranger walked with me to my car and checked it for damage. He agreed that it was okay. The right sideview mirror was dangling and a streak of blood trailed along the door. The front grill was kicked in but the right headlight seemed okay.
My horror story should end here,
but I was probably in shock
and probably did next,
exactly what no woman should do.
I was still worried about the deer. What if it was lying on the road?
What if it was wandering - dazed and injured - still on the road?
Someone else might hit it and not be so lucky.
The stranger said he would call the authorities and report the deer for me, but I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to go back and look for it. The stranger offered to drive down the road to look for it although he didn't really know where it had happened. I said I could show him. His pickup was parked in the driveway near my car. We got into his truck and we drove back down the highway,
the dark country road.
This strange man and I.
We crested the hill and I said, "This was where it had happened."
We turned around on the lonely highway
in the dark, dark night
and we slowly crept along the road watching for a deer.
There was no deer.
The stranger shrugged and said, "It happens. It may run off and be all right. Or it may run off and die under a bush."
Either way, there was no deer on the road.
Not any more.
This stranger, this man not much older than I,
this kind man, took me back to his house.
Back to my car in his driveway
and once again assured me he would call the authorities.
He watched me get into my car and back out of his driveway.
He watched me pull out onto that lonely, dark country highway
to continue on my interrupted way home.
Home to the safety of my house,
and my husband.
Even now when I think back on that night, the eeriness of the events unnerve me. I was acting as though I were a zombie or a puppet. I didn't know what I was doing.
The darkness and the loneliness fit the horror movie atmosphere completely. The results were just much happier.
To be continued...