Southern Legitimacy Statement: Clinton Myers is a native of Tracy City, Tennessee currently living in Nashville. An attorney by trade, this marks his first foray into flash fiction.
The Road to Yonder
“One time I was heading around this turn right up here and just on the other side of it was a deer sitting down in the road. Right up, up, it was right there. I almost didn’t get stopped in time. I hit the brakes as soon as I saw it and slid up to it. That thing never moved. It was looking up at me. I honked at it. Nothing. Honked again. Still nothing.”
“It hadn’t been shot, either. It wasn’t season. This was in the late spring or early summer.”
“I got to looking and decided it must have something wrong with it. I got out of the truck, and, when I did, it tried to stand up and fell right back down again. I decided it must have been hit and broken its back legs.”
“I keep that twenty-two behind the seat, so I grabbed it and put it out of its misery.”
“Well, I had to. There was no other choice. It was suffering and if I hadn’t done that, the coyotes would find it eventually.”
Gravel rattled under us as we floated a turn. I looked across the field stretching up to the side of the mountain and flowing into a cove.
Little things I should have said and done. I just never took the time…
“What’d you do with it after that?”
You were always on my mind.
“I just drug it off into the ditch for the county to come pick up.”
“I could have kept it and had it processed, but I would have had to go straight there with it because of the heat. Deer meat will spoil pretty quick on a warm day. If you shoot one, and it’s getting warm, you need to take it straight on to get processed, even if that means leaving camp a day early.”
“And I was heading up here to put out hay or something like that. I didn’t have time to take it off.”
We angled up.
“I’ve had to do that to a steer before too, if they aren’t going to make it for whatever reason, then it’s best to just put them down.”
“Why didn’t they do that for mom then?”
…always on my mind.
Then it was silent for a while. Almost the rest of the way up. I didn’t chance a look over. I just stared as we slowed to the turn up to the gate. I still didn’t look over, even after the truck was in park.
“Because as long as your heart’s still beating, there’s still a chance that you’ll get better.” Miracles happen all the time. And it’s different for animals. They aren’t His children.”
The truck made a buzzing sound when the door was open. The same sound bugs make on a hot summer morning. Wailing against the rising sun. Warm air cascading in.
“Besides, it’s not up to us when our lives end.”
His voice sounded different. I couldn’t tell, but I thought he sounded angry. I stared at the rubber mat between my feet.
“When it’s your time, you’ll be called and that’s it, but until it’s your time, you can’t just give up. And you can’t let anyone else give up either.”
The door shut and truck lurched forward dozen yards or so. Buzzing again when he stepped out to go shut the gate, then stopped again with the quick squeak of hinges, slam of the metal, and rattle of the old pane in dry-rotted rubber.