Either I was tiring, or he was pushing harder. I gave some ground. I had the feeling that the deer, if he wanted to, could push harder still. And he had more traction than I did, and his horns were harder than my hands—I wasn't holding the points, but the parts I was holding were rough, almost like coral, and what if he got a temper up?
"Were you scared?" I was asked by people to whom I told this story early on.
"Yes," I answered, until my friend Vereen Bell said, "That's hard to imagine, being scared of a deer."
"Not so much scared," I have told people since. "I mean, I knew he wasn't going to kill me. But what if he got frightened and started slashing around? Deer use their horns to fight off wolves, right? I could imagine getting gouged enough that I'd have to go to the emergency room. You don't mess around with a wild-animal puncture. And then how would I get to New York in time with Jessie's red sequin skating dress?"
I was backing up bit by bit to keep my arms extended; every bit of extension I lost, the deer took it up like slack.
I could have called out to Jon, who was down in the woods sweeping the court. But I didn't want to. Maybe if he hadn't just beaten me 6-0 I would have, but I don't think so. I felt this was something I ought to be able to deal with myself. Anyway, what would I have called out?
"Jon! Could you come up here quick? I...I'm...I've got a hold of a deer and he won't let me turn him loose!"
No. I tried to put myself in the deer's place. What did deer do with their horns, usually? Beside fight wolves. Bump and rub them off on trees. Did this deer think I was a tree? I backed around in the yard, looking over my shoulder for trees, finding a couple of little ones. What did he need with them? He had me.
I backed further, into some bushes. This felt like a bad move. I minded being in these bushes more than the deer seemed to. And now I didn't have anywhere further to back. I looked down.
That's when I saw the brick.