Fiction · 02/12/2020

Glass Eyes

The thing is, and despite the story her dad still tells, Cathy and I saw it all.

The way the buck stopped in the middle of the road as if for some reason it just couldn’t or wouldn’t go on. The way her dad’s pickup came hurtling around the bend, snow and mud and ice and gravel spewing from beneath its wheels like winter sick. The way he slammed into the buck, and the way the bull bars sent it flying up the road as if it were no bigger than a dog. The way he staggered out from the driver’s side, his stainless steel hip flask in one hand, the orange cap I gave him last Christmas in the other.

The thing is, and despite the lie he still tells about that stuffed head with its glass eyes up there on his study wall, we saw him examine the injured deer before going back to get his rifle from the cab. We watched as he half-walked, half-stumbled the fifty or sixty yards up the hill towards the edge of the forest. Then, from the abandoned woodcutter’s hut where we had spent the afternoon and hoped, for obvious reasons, to remain undiscovered, we saw him go down on one knee with all the agility and grace of a drunken priest. We watched him take aim, and we watched as he fired once, twice, three times, the third shot hitting the buck in the belly.

We saw that once magnificent animal jolt and kick and bleed into the snow. We watched it take its last breath and, with its blood still steaming in the cold air, die quietly in the fading light. That’s how it was that time. That’s what we saw.

Of course, if he was anybody else I’d refuse to let his lie go unchallenged. Except he’s my boss and my future father-in-law and one of the most respected newspaper editors there’s ever been in these parts.

Since then, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve asked Cathy, What would you do if you were me?

The number of times she just shrugged and said, I’ve been you for longer than you can imagine.

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Gary Martin Hughes was born in Northern Ireland. He currently lives and works in England. He tweets @GaryMartinHugh1.