Here was my son John's response to the story: "I'd probably have done the same thing myself." A generous thing for a son to tell a father. I feel bad that I didn't think to tell him in return, "I'd probably have done all the things I've given you a hard time about myself, too." I might say that there seemed to be a note of resignation in his voice. When something happens to your father you can't help thinking, deep inside, Ah. Yes. This is the kind of thing the men of my family do.
Maybe I should have whispered something to the deer or chanted something or jumped on his back and ridden him off into the woods. This story could use a transcendent moment. But I had to get away, there was Jessie's dress. Which, as I say, I got to her on time. She skated with aplomb. She missed, by one point, making the top three and Lake Placid, but that didn't get her down.
A couple of weeks later, the deer approached a man who was doing some work on the Bettses' house. The man called the game warden, who shot the deer with a tranquilizer dart and took his horns off with a chain saw. Nobody has reported seeing the deer since. Maybe he was cured of being a people animal, or maybe he let a hunter get close to him during deer week in the winter and died wondering what he may also have wondered when he and I parted: Hey, what is the story here?