Two friends who I have killed
A young mule deer buck walks westward in the open prairie. There is no cover for either of us. He had seen me earlier and wasn’t alarmed by my presence.
Him and I, we walk together for almost an hour, hundreds of yards apart, occasionally stopping to take stock of each other. At this moment he accepts me as part of his world and it feels good. We come to a small hill that splits us up. I arrive at the other side first and sit behind a large sagebrush plant.
A few moments later I see him, walking slowly and sometimes putting his head down to eat. He stops and sees me. He doesn’t look away.
I bring the gun to my shoulder and put my eye to my scope. I take the safety off and put my finger on the trigger.
I won’t shoot if you run.
He watches me.
A tear rolls down my check. My heart is beating fast. My hands are shaky.
I aim just behind his shoulder. He never looks away from me. I take a breath and when the air is almost gone, there is stillness.
I pull the trigger.*
It is morning. My goat Hazel is laying on her side. Her abdomen is contracting. She is screaming. This the only way I can put it. She sounds almost human. She is not pregnant although she is pushing like she’s in labor.
The year before she had delivered triplets, and a intrauterine tumor. At 2:00 a.m. on a Monday morning we loaded her up in the back of my Subaru, left her babies in the barn, and took her to a vet. The mass was huge. The vet sliced the tumor off her uterine wall, replaced the part of her uterus that had come out, and sent us on our way. Hazel raised all three of her babies.
There is no fixing it this time. I walk up to my house and grab my .22. My hands are shaking as I load the bullets into the gun. Shells are clinking to the floor because I can’t keep my hands steady. My dogs slink into the corners of the room.
Hazel is my favorite. We are friends. Sometimes we sit together and watch the sun set.
I can’t do this.
I have to do this.
Who can I call?
She doesn’t have time. I don’t have time.
I walk into the pen. My friend looks up at me and our eyes meet.
Somehow, she stands up and walks toward me.
I kneel down and my friend presses her head against my chest. She looks into my eyes. I tell her it’s going to be ok.
Hazel lays back down.
Tears are streaming down my face. My heart is racing. My hands are shaking.
I aim for her brainstem. When she looks away from me, I take a breath and when the air is almost gone, there is stillness.
I pull the trigger.