He likes to go hunting. He’s got his dogs, he’s got his boys, he’s got his guns. He likes deer and so does his wife—fresh venison really gets her going and after three kids in three years, not much else does.
It makes him eager. Eager in all the wrong ways.
He follows a buck and doesn’t even realize how hopelessly lost he is until he misses his shot. As the prey walks off, he curses and turns around. He calls out. There is no answer. He fires in the air. No one around fires back, or calls. He’s alone in the woods.
That’s where he finds her. At the bottom of a waterfall, in a pool by a spring, he finds her bathing. He doesn’t believe his eyes at first—why would he? What would a young woman like that be doing way the hell out here? At first all he sees is a human shape, beautifully light-skinned, with dirty-blonde hair flowing around it in the water. Curious, he moves closer.
She steps out of the water and he can tell, right there, dear God, she’s completely naked. She emerges from the water with perfect form, poised, only her wet hair clinging to her skin down her back. She seems so small…
Suddenly, she stops moving. Slowly, she turns around and he becomes self-conscious. He calls out to her, “Hey, what you doing out here?”
He doesn’t want to bring up her nakedness. He thinks maybe if he just doesn’t bring it up, she’ll think he just hasn’t noticed.
But now she’s turned to him and he can see her face. That face… she looks so young. Why, the girl can’t be more’n fourteen, could she? No breasts to speak of, no hips really, either, and yet what seems like a small thatch of—
Why is he looking?
“Look, hey, uh…” he begins again, “If you’re lost or something…”
She’s completely turned towards him now. She takes a step forward, leading from her shoulders and he finds himself raising his gun at her, at this poor helpless girl. He catches himself, then, lowers it back down.
He desperately tries to keep looking her in the eyes. He swallows.
“Do you like what you see?” she asks.
This is a trick question and he knows it. He knows what he should say, something along the lines of “Come on now, let’s get you home,” completely ignoring it. But instead, he finds himself saying “Yes.” Because he does like what he sees and he suddenly finds himself utterly incapable of lying.
She takes another step closer, landing at the edge of the water. “Do you like hunting?” she asks, much more enthusiastically, as though genuinely curious.
As she’s struggling to answer, she dips back into the water. “Yeah,” he concedes.
She asks him “And do you like to be hunted?” and at that moment, she disappears into the water.
Actually disappears. He cannot see her form beneath the waters, nor even a ripple above.
“Hey, you still there?” he calls. Then he thinks, somewhat benignly, But where are all her clothes?
The fact is, though, now he can’t even see her in the water.
The next thought to occur to him should be to wonder if the entire encounter was just some fever-dream caused by deprived horniness and guilt for it, but this is a thought that doesn’t occur to him because it doesn’t have a chance to. Because before it has a chance to, pain shoots out of nowhere across his entire body. I hate my name, he thinks, at the same time thinking that he’s melting.
But soon enough, the pain is over. His clothes lie in a pile next to him on the ground where he stands on his four legs and raises his antlers high. He likes being a deer, he thinks. His wife likes deer. He finds something on the ground to munch on until his dogs and his boys with their guns track him down and shoot him.
His clothes and gun are found, but his body never is—at least not officially. Though his wife is given a leg of venison to share with the children, and his friends make sure she’s taken care of for the rest of her life.