He stood in the backyard, his black nose flaring, sensing. His eyes darted. He stood motionless, perfectly blendingly brown against the ravine falling away behind him.
His regal bearing halted me, held me. He watched me, stand still in my kitchen watching this buck, who possessed . . . . it was odd trying to count his “points”. He possessed five points, but no. Not correct.
Maybe his camouflage worked well this early. I again counted antler points from his side, knowing an odd number of horns isn’t impossible, but incorrect. That was the word, incorrect. Not five.
He turned. Looked at me, assessed me and I stared back open-mouthed. His left side rack was “correct”: five points, beautiful, elegant.
His right side was gone, unlike any deer, elk, or horned game I’ve ever seen. All of them had two racks, one per side, or nothing. Maybe I thought boys grow new antlers each year, and then drop by the Antler store to leave both sides with a valet.
Life does not come at them balanced, aesthetically perfect on both sides. A buck can loose a side in a fight, fence, or blunt force. I wondered if it was tricky to hold his head level, and then he ran to vanish.
Tony, doctors say, will be gone before morning, and he lost bits of himself toward the end in a fight, a fence, or an invisible force. He, too, studied me for years while living next door, and I’ll miss him more than Half Rack.
And it’s not actually losing this capability, that speed, or these kinds of recall. No, unlike Half Rack, I sense the end of my days here, and knowing separates me from Half Rack. Enough like God to know my days are numbered, and yet lacking so much that I can’t dismiss all my glory at once in a place I choose, that’s right, or good.
It’s another reason I love that Baby in the manger, who identified with us, and then died to make us unlike Half Rack forever.