To do it right, to make pure the omen, we’d share the kill. Our first as a couple to be wed. We wait. We are good at waiting.
From a perch in a tree, it sees their young hearts catch like the embers of a nascent fire. It sees people-heat. Not their pink faces or their loose skins the color of forest rot. The deer sees heat.
Quivering near the rifle, we breathe out through the nose, our eyes on the glorious beast, God’s great reward for our patience. We are slow and quiet.
It knows, by the speed of young hearts, that its death is coming—it’s a violent, sexual pounding, a passion for destruction that glows white-hot as Creation. It steps into a clearing under the pouring midmorning light and tips its head to graze the burdock. It waits.
The shot ignites in us a fire. We fall on each other and thrash. It’s happening. We fuck—fuck with the rifle right there between our bodies, fuck without grunt or gasp, without thrust or arch, so that on the altar we can tell God we waited.
The spirit, entangled by its sinews, soul netted in cartilage, feels the fight as exultation, not pain. In the dirt, a chorus of sparks from the tree where the two dig into one another, grinding bone into bone.
In our garage, with the sweet smells of oil and cedar shavings rising from the bench, we work on the carcass. Arms sleek with blood, slimed by organs up to the elbows. We use our grunts for skinning, fuck-noises for butchering; we use our newfound desire on the tonnage of shimmering pink flesh. We look at the head, the impressive antlers branching from the skull. Our knees on its neck, blade to bone, we saw and sweat.
Its flaming energy throbs in the jagged nub of its bone-branches. It’s been reduced to this, to be held by young hearts. Now it is only a part of their story.
Kevin Catalano is the author of The Word Made Flesh, a collection of dark flash fiction, and short stories from firthFORTH Books. Other stories have appeared in [PANK], Booth, Pear Noir!, Atticus Review, Gargoyle Magazine, FRiGG, and many other journals. His stories have also been anthologized in Press 53’s Surreal South ’13, Fiddleblack Annuals #1 and #2, and Dark House Press’ Exigencies. He teaches writing at Rutgers University, Newark and lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.