This is a true story. That's the trouble with it. Three days after these events actually happened to me—three days, that is, after I became the first person I have ever heard of who wrestled, physically, with an apparently lust-driven deer—I visited a movie set, where I told the story to everyone who would listen. Everyone looked professionally dubious. A prominent screenwriter was on hand to help punch up this movie's script from day to day, make it track better, give the characters clearer motivation. Two thirds of the way through my story, the screenwriter frowned.
"Where would he get a brick?" he said.
"Not he," I said, "me. This happened to me. I just reached down, and there was a brick there, on the ground."
"What would a brick be doing there?" he wanted to know.
"I don't know," I said. "This happened. See, here are the scars."
Actually they weren't scars yet, they were cuts. But they looked as though they might become scars, if I kept picking at them. (Today, I regret to say, they are almost gone.) The scriptwriter wasn't motivated to do more than glance at them. I pushed on through to the end of the story.
"I thought you were going to do more with the red sequin thing," the screenwriter said. "If not the pants."
If this were not a true story, I dare say I would do more with the red sequin thing, because it was a crucial element: Jessie Betts's skating dress. If not the pants.
Some back story (I believe that's what they call it in the movie industry). I divide my time between New York City and the country, western Massachusetts. So do my close friends, the Betts family. But they weren't coming up to the country on the weekend of Sept. 22-23, 1990, because Jessie, their 14-year-old daughter, had a big ice skating competition in the city on the afternoon of Sunday, the 23rd. If she finished in the top three, she would go on to a higher-level competition at Lake Placid. And Jessie had left her red sequin skating dress in their country house. So her mother, Lois, asked me to bring it in to the city in time for the competition. I was more than happy.
I went to the Bettses' house and picked up Jessie's dress before noon. That gave me time to play tennis with my friend Jon Swan on the Bettses' court, which lies in a clearing in the woods behind their house.