183. GWH Leaveth

So I’m standing over the illegal spike buck and unwilling to take photographic evidence of the kill. I thought, ‘No, I can’t have any evidence of this deer or big trouble could erupt.’ I called Clark back, “Hey, the she was a he.”

“Oh no, it’s that spike buck I saw yesterday. I should’ve told you about him. Dang it, Quazi.” He’s taken to calling me Quasimoto from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have no idea why and suspect he doesn’t either. “For now just get away from it and I’ll be over with the tractor.”

Ten minutes later he arrived on foot and we inspected the shem drag stag. “Yep, it’s illegal alright.”

“What are my options?”

“Well, I can get a hatchet and we can cut the spikes off. That’s illegal if you get caught. You can just not report it and that’s illegal if you get caught. And then you can call the Game Warden and see what he wants to do. I think it’s a $50 fine and the loss of the deer. You think about it while we get the tractor.”

In the meantime we gutted the deer and drained off the blood. Not a pretty sight, my blushing blogoiters. I held its heart in my hand briefly. It was larger than my grip. All sorts of organs and shapes huddled in a steaming pile. “The buffet is now open, Coyotes.”

We slogged slowly back to the house and the outbuilding that overhangs the tractor. No rush. We had some coffee and I decided to call the Game Warden. Clark was sure the spikes were five inches. I was sure they were three. Off we went with the tractor to retrieve the carcass. I measured the spikes with a dollar bill, which I know is six inches long. Exactly half way up the bill the spikes ended. Clark was unimpressed. “It’s illegal, Quazi.”

I read the hunting manual about Mistake Kills and figured that was what I had on my hands. The fine is only $25 and the loss of the carcass. I thought that was fair, so I called. It was around 9:30 by now and Officer Dustin Bender said he’d be by the house at noon. Okay. We left the deer in the front yard near the road.

The house/cabin is being remodeled– new roof, siding, an added bedroom, porch, laundry room. Plus new windows and cabinets. Around the perimeter was a mess of roofing pieces, soffit cuts, vinyl siding pieces, and various other pieces of construction waste. For an hour and a half we gathered up the pieces and sorted them into aluminum and scrap metal and burnable junk. The difference was amazing. Suddenly it looked like someone actually lived there.

We threw down on lunch– pork loin, sweet potato, applesauce, and cheese. Good grub for hunter gatherers like us. At exactly noon the Conservation Officer arrived and proceeded to back up in order to load my deer. As he opened his truck door I could see he was all ready to write up the citation. I said, “Hey, uh, before you write that citation, would you mind measuring the spikes on the deer. We measured three inches. “Sure”, he replied and took out an official looking metal rule. “Three inches on the money. HMMM.”

I looked at him. Clark looked at me. I looked at Clark. Officer Bender looked at the deer and then at us, looking at him. “Tell you what, fellas. Since you called us and you’re trying to do the right thing, we’ll just call this an antlerless deer. You put your doe tag on it and keep it. Okay?”

“Alriiiiight!” I smiled. “Now I can feel good about the shot. I hit him at about 50 yards but its ears were bigger than its spikes.”

“Oh yeah, I know what you mean. Honest mistake. No problem. You guys have a good day.” And away he went. I was tickled.

“Well, let’s get butchering”, I offered. Clark brought the tractor back out of the shed. As he had put it away earlier he’d said, “If I put it away then the Game Warden will surely let you keep the carcass.” He was wrong about the spikes but right about the tractor parking.

Now this is grisly stuff, my blog puffs. If you have a weak stomach or like to hug puppies, you should walk away from the monitor now. If you are still reading, then you have given implied consent from here on. We wrapped a chain around the neck of the young buck and hoisted the carcass into the air while attached to the tractor bucket. Not a pretty picture, let me assure you. But it gets worse. Clark gathered up the knives and hacksaw for the butchering and we began the brutal and ugly process. A psychic switch is thrown to stay task focused and not relational with this creature.

“Cut the legs off, Quazi.” I complied and put them in a bag for my dog Johnny.

We cut the fur around its neck and pulled down while cutting the thin membrane between muscles and fur coat. The neck is dozens of maroon muscles that allow the animal to turn its head and nod and shake. I focused on muscles and not on the entire entity. Never looking at the innocent and beautiful face.

Eventually we had peeled all the skin off, leaving a mass of drying flesh hanging from a chain. Clark lowered the bucket and we began cutting out the backstrap muscles that run along the spine. Those are prime cuts because they are not heavy duty muscles, therefore they are tender. Then we cut off each shoulder, which was remarkably easy to accomplish.
The carcass was disappearing quickly as Clark sawed the rump away from the rest of the spine and rib cage. I was supposed the catch it, but I did not. The rump fell onto the gravel and dirt beneath us. “Tenderizer” I justified.

In an hour we were cleaned up and had venison where a young buck had been. This was a clear example that the sum of the parts is not equal to the whole. The buck has been separated from his life force, then his guts, then his other parts. But he did not die in vain. He died in Warfordsburg.

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170. Adolessons 1

Blazing blognacity! Humor, like fireworks, should only be handled by professionals. Even then, someone may lose a finger or an eye due to a tragic mishap. Nor should adolescent males be left unsupervised…ever. Many a full grown man is today hobbling around due to some foolish stunt he pulled as a teenager. Some have scars. Some have skin cancer ’cause they didn’t use sunscreen. A neighbor, Steve Murray, lost his sight in one eye when a cherry bomb he threw out his window caught the frame and bounced back into his face, forever altering his life. Lots of lessons are learned in male adolescence. Lots aren’t.

One summer night in high school we were hanging around my Fairfax County front yard, bored yet energetic. It must have been 11 p.m. or so. Richard Cooper, Dwayne Beatty, me, and maybe Johnny Emrico and Bobby Doering were mulling over teen angst. It was dark, okay? Richard still had a cast on his foot from a rope swing accident earlier in the spring. While we were skipping school, and he was under the influence of Boone’s Farm Berry wine, he swung fast and hard off his 1967 Volkswagen Beetle’s hood and flew into space above the Occoquan River near Woodbridge, Virginia. Unfortunately for him, as he let go and flipped a flawless backward gainer, he landed on a large rock and shattered his ankle.

So here we were a couple of months later, unrepentant. Someone babbled that we should drive to Ocean City, Maryland, a four hour car ride back in the day. Like another adventure I blogged about, (the x-rated movie scam Blog #73. Unerringly), the motion to be purposefully stupid was unanimously approved. Dwayne said he’d drive his dad’s gold Pontiac Bonneville. It easily sat six with room to spare. Each guy went home for a towel, no sun screen, some food, money, and maybe left a note for a sleeping parent. I grabbed a half bag of charcoals and a pack of hot dogs.

Away we went at high speeds. On a different night Dwayne had pushed his dad’s Pontiac up to 125 mph on the Beltway. Not on this night. In fact, on our way through small towns in the Eastern Shore of Maryland, we all fell asleep until the car jumped a railroad track and slammed down on the other side. For dramatic effect I’ll compare it to a space capsule full of monkeys re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, jolting the animals awake. From there on one of us was assigned to keep Dwayne awake.

When we got to the boardwalk, it was 3:00 a.m. and we imagined we’d just sleep on the beach. The cops had other ideas. They told us we could not sleep anywhere except a hotel, not even in our car. So we sat on the benches until sunup, at which time we were allowed to sleep on the beach. We were tired and hungry. I made a little pit in the sand and lit my charcoals for roasting the wieners. The cops had other ideas. “You can’t have a fire on the beach, kid. Put it out.” I was stunned and still hungry. I kicked sand over my combusting charcoals not knowing that I was simply creating a sand furnace. Later in the day I walked right over my buried charcoal and burned my right foot. One of the other guys had the communal brain at that time, I guess. We all laughed hard at our own stupidity. Somehow everyone survived the sunburnt trip, sort of. Richard got tired of his cast, though, and walked into the waves. In a matter of minutes the plaster softened and he took it off. Bad idea. The ankle was not ready for duty, and pain began to school him again. Apparently he was a slow learner.

It could have been the same summer but a different cast of characters. The only common factor was me. Again, adolescent males bored on a summer night. It was Sam, Chris and Dwight this night. After squirreling around our local haunts, Sam or Chris said, “Let’s go to Dulles airport and watch the planes come in.” All in favor got in Dwight’s green bug and away we went. There was a full moon as I recall because on the way west Dwight turned his lights out and drove by moonlight. Once we got to the terminal we noticed that it was just about as empty and boring as the place we’d just left.

Back in Dwight’s bug, back on the access road, again no lights. As we approached the Beltway, one of us suggested turning on the lights for safety. Dwight did so and, lo’ and behold, a large doe stood right in front of the car, but not for long. Boom! The deer slammed into the hood, the windshield, and rolled over the roof of the car. Mrs. Deer flew up and into history. The trunk, which was in the front of bugs, flew open and bent back on its hinges as Dwight tried to slow down and not crash any worse than we’d already managed to do. He was blinded by the hood, however. In slow motion I recall the VW’s headlights illuminating the woods which we wound up driving into and Dwight’s spare tire bouncing merrily through the trees in the moonlight. It was death defying and hilarious at the same moment. We got out to inspect the damage. Not too bad for us. The deer was nowhere in sight. We fetched the spare, pulled deer hair out of the rear view mirror and hood handle, and bent the hood back into closed position. Somehow, and only God knows how, we made it home alive again.

 

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be adolescents.

4. next

Two themes have emerged thus far– the coffee summit and the cross country hitchhike. Which way to go? Both, neither, either. The coffee shop has its daily visitors and the daily babble. I have to be careful about revealing Joel the lawyer, whom I recently consulted on the inheritability of coffee reward points. I have been after the barristas to transfer (other customers’) unused coffee reward points to my account. Some folks  have accumulated 600 plus, which means that they have spent $600 without cashing out from the rough and tumble game of caffeine consumption. I use my points as I rack them up because I would not want to be hit by a truck and leave them behind, unknown and unused. Seems logical to me. Joel informed me the other day that coffee reward points are “intangible personal property that can be valued at current market value and indeed left in one’s estate, thereby also being taxable under the Pennsylvania inheritance tax laws” (since the coffee shop is located in Pennsylvania).  Which sure takes the fun out of it all. However, if one simply transfers these points while one is living, no taxes need to be paid. They are like coupons or discounted prices. It’s comforting to know useless information sometimes. You feel less guilty after forgetting it, unlike forgetting how to figure the area of right triangles or the other one that starts with iso–. I’m not going to look up the spelling at this moment. See how the fickle stream of thought meanders around, following the path of least resistance?

Returning to the summit would require examination and concentration; the shoulds and shouldn’ts would kick in. Getting back into the flow of the hitchhiking story would put me in Nashville after two days of standing around major highways and riding in a lot of Volkswagen Beetles. But I wound up in Nashville, 1978 and was exhausted. It was not the first night I’d pushed through without sleep, but it was the first one spent standing in the rain and dark along a highway. I found the Sam Davis hotel somehow. It was large and couldn’t have  been very expensive. I slept the night…it would have been Saturday, and got back on the road on Sunday morning.

Of course another gay fellow picked me up. He was 18 I think. I was 21. No, we didn’t get jiggified. He was leaving his boyfriend’s place and driving home to Arkansas, which is across the Mississippi River if you are geographically challenged. I can’t recall his name, but he was dejected to be leaving his guy behind and wanted to chat with me, I guess. He could talk and I could listen, so off we went. He rewound his entire  high school experience for me, including being outed just before his performance as leading guy in the high school spring drama production. The most beautiful and popular girl in the school, and his close friend, of course, played his leading lady.  They had to kiss in one scene and it was more than many in the community could endure. Somehow they adjusted the scene to spare the sensibilities of the Arkansas audience. His other stories have faded over time, but he was a nice guy. Before he drove north and I continued west, we stopped at a restaurant and, no kidding, he got his high school yearbook out of his trunk and we sat on his bumper thumbing through his recent glory days. No shock, no surprise this time. Just a lit up Southern young man who was excited to be alive.  Amen.

I think the next ride I got was with an oilman in his Lincoln Mark IV. He’d had so many heart attacks, he told me, that he could not fly in an airplane. As a result he drove hundreds of thousands of miles in luxury cars. “No one would believe the kind of miles I put on my vehicles, and I don’t tell them at trade in time either.” 600 miles we covered. He bought me lunch and just wanted to talk to someone. Told me all about his family. How he’d sold the family home after his wife died. His kids got so mad at him that he had to buy it back. He was ready to move on but they weren’t.  He told me some dark stories about the bottom of life also. I’ll spare you those.

Somewhere in Oklahoma, I believe, he let me off. I hated to get out of an airconditioned luxury car only to stand still and sweat by the side of the highway. But it had to be done.

One of my next drivers was a drunk man who stopped and asked me if I had a valid driver’s license. When I showed him my then valid Virginia license, he said, “Drive” and got in the back seat with his whiskey. I felt oddly proprietary and careful of the vehicle. I drove for two or three hours until our ways split. He told me to pick up an honest looking hitcher to replace myself. I did. After a brief interview, my replacement drove this pathetic man away into his blackout.

Two paths diverged in the yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.