Yesterday was a fine day and ended in a thoughtful way. Visited my son who now lives in a place much hillier than here. Coming home using the shortcut through the abundant woods, the truck ambling in front of us hit a doe.
The muscle truck pulled over; no traffic to speak of on this road. We were just behind him and our lights caught the face of the deer, still alive. We pulled over and rolled down the window and spoke to the young man.
“She is still alive”, Glenn said. “Do you have a gun? No, sir.” I was gobsmacked. Glenn thinking about a gun? The third question was: “Are you alright?” It would have been the first question had the pickup not been so muscle bound. “Don’t worry, I will take care of her.” Then he probably went home to get his dad or his roommate.
We were home in three minutes and I hugged my little cat. I really hate Nature sometimes.
She and I sunk into my reading chair. For a quarter I had bought a small book containing three of William Faulkner’s short stories. Turning to “The Bear”, I thought about my fine education. We read this story in high school. Remembered some things about it. Some sentences are three or four hundred words. They are contrasted with one word sentences, like “Quick.”; the absolute quickest way to state the notion.
Poured myself a glass of wine and started. Had to read the first paragraph over four times. And I read this in high school? Early on Faulkner established his world, its inhabitants, and their history in that place that he always writes about, a certain county in Mississippi. It was similar to the begat, and begat, and begat that you run into in Genesis. Man versus Nature, as we learned was the overall topic in this story. A kind of Ahab and the whale story, but the whale was a bear and the spaces between the two parties contained earthborne activities with guns. Guns.
Perhaps it was the experience with the deer that made his narration so real to me, the ten year old boy who was finally allowed to go out hunting for two weeks with the men, this rite of passage, this yearning of his to learn what men know, how they know it, to see the legendary bear with his one bad paw, to track it and smell it and perhaps shoot it. (OK this will be my only attempt at a Faulkneresque sentence, just had to do it).
These guns were a kind of a violent partner and to be respected. They were old guns made of replacement part after replacement part, the original firearm an ancestor. Rarely shot, as the way I read the narration, less is more.
Men have this characteristic to “take care”. It is in their genes. Guns have been developed. It makes no sense to wish the opposite. Throughout the history of this country they have been a tool. Man against Nature. Man helping that poor Doe. Boys learning to be Men. After last night, I have started thinking differently about the idea of a gun.
And good thing. We need to solve this problem. I am willing to walk more towards the middle with the Doe and the Boy in my mind. But I think it is wrong for the NRA to reframe the Constitution. And I think automatic and semi-automatic weapons are not a tool that makes men. Many times we learn and do better the hard way, the way that takes a longer time to achieve, and as the length of the chore adds to the wisdom of the person.