Confronting loneliness, frustration and childhood, with the image of a whitetail deer.
|“But it just keeps appearing—this burning question about the deer!” he shouted to himself in the mirror. It was not yet morning.
There exists an air of sadness and distance in the way Ferdinand presents himself as an adult. On Friday evenings, around seven o’clock, you can see him dining alone in his favorite restaurant. He’ll order the meatloaf and pair it with a red wine. After dinner you can follow him to any number of art galleries, where he’ll mingle with the community. Everyone will find him charming, but by the end of the night he’ll be forgotten.
Ferdinand is not like others. He is aware of his distance and his sadness; and he has manifested these feelings into a rather powerful image—the non-death of a whitetail deer.
In the twilight, his mind fluttered. “I would return home and kill the deer, without feeling shame or regret, if I could. But I can’t now. I’m too far away, I don’t have enough money and I don’t have the will to accept the humility that is required of me. My life is passing—has passed—and yet here I am stuck in the past, stuck in those dreaded woods; dead leaves surround me; my father’s gaze is burning a hole through my garish orange vest.”
His thoughts began lucid, but gradually grew more abstract and ambiguous. His reasoning was dissipating. The sun was rising.
“Did I want to remain overly sensitive—the maintenance of a personal gentleness? It was a way of denying my father happiness, wasn’t it? Denying him pleasure, because he had caused me so much pain. Which would have hurt more: hurting the deer and pleasing my father (which would make me sad, for accepting my father is really refusing myself) or allowing the deer to survive (accepting the me that I wanted to be and thereby displeasing my father)?
But I already chose to keep the deer alive. I chose the deer over my father’s affection. Fuck, is that true? No, I preferred inaction to action—the consequences of non-action are so much more easily understand than the consequences of action.
Was there even a deer? In the woods that day, did my father and I see a deer? We sat alone in the woods, and these questions were filling my mind, though at the time I had no way of articulating them. I knew that if the opportunity arose to kill a deer, I would have refused and my father would grow more distant at my refusal. This is all just about the image of the deer. Is that what I’m saying? This unrest is the result of a mere image, a mere non-truth? In my mind, there will always be the deer.”
Somehow Ferdinand’s life would have been different had he been able to pull the trigger. His family would have accepted him, or perhaps he would have bound himself more tightly to their obligations and expectations. It would have been hard, then, to escape the life that he hated so much.
For now he much prefers lonely dinners and fleeting conversations, because at the end of each night sleep overtakes him. And he awakes in the early hours of the new day and confronts his childhood. Ferdinand is preparing himself for the day he has dreads the most—the day the whitetail deer must die at his hand.