Driving home from the cinema at 9pm, doing about 55mph on the Exminster bypass and all of a sudden there’s a deer in my headlights, yards from the front of the car. I slam the breaks on, Emma screams, the deer looks right at me and leaps out of the way and to safety on the other side of the road. I’ve barely stopped, in fact I don’t think I quite have, when another deer leaps from the bushes and marshes on the left and runs in front of my car, far enough ahead for me to know we wont hit it. This one isn’t quick enough though, because a car (too quick to remember, but a people carrier or estate or 4×4 – i.e. not a small car) is coming the other way, fast, and hits it. The crunch, the jerk of the deer… horrific, in a word. We’re halting just past its corpse, as we pass it we see its guts clearly opened and spread across the road. I stick the hazards on, leap out of the car and dial 999. The car that hit the deer has gone. Emma’s in shock, I’m waving my arms to stop oncoming traffic hitting the carcass while also telling the police, because you’ve got to report these things, right? The car that hit the deer didn’t stop. A van drives straight over the carcass, but its wheelbase is high enough that it doens’t hit it. A couple of the cars clip it slightly, the ones that don’t still make a sicking sound as the spool through the slick of blood, the smear of dead deer in the middle of the bypass. I’m totally calm by now, just pissed off and grossed out, I’ve described where we are to the police, given my name, told them I might wait for them to arrive. A car stops behind me, the driver asks if I’m alright, I say, baffled, that I’m waiting for the police and trying to stop anyone else hitting it. “Let’s move it” he says, and walks towards it. A car or a van drives straight over it as we approach, dragging the carcass further, tearing it up. How fucking stupid are some drivers? There are two cars stopped in the road with hazard lights on and a dead deer and you keep doing 60mph and drive over a carcass, knackering your bumper, smearing entrails over the road you fucking cunt. I can’t touch it. I can see its eyes, its guts, its severed hind leg. The other guy grabs it by another leg and hauls if off the road, wipes blood off his hand on the grass – “are you alright?” he askes, and offers “I’m a butcher” by way of explanation of his lack of squeamishness. He gets back in his car and carries on his way. I get back in. Emma’s shaking, not just because of the fact that we saw a horrific, violent road death but also the shock of the stop, the squeal of the brakes. “Did the other one get away?” Yes it did. We saved the first one, we stopped in time, I don’t know how. The car’s just been serviced and the rear brakes were done. Just as well. I check the front of the car, just in case. We definitely didn’t hit anything. The first deer (there had beent wo, hadn’t there? Yes, definitely, the first one was just THERE all of a sudden – the second one I watched emerge from a bush almost in slow motion before I saw its body impact with a fast car on a bypass). Half an hour earlier I’d been jumping out of my skin at The Amityville Horror while Emma laughed at me for being scared. Half an hour later I was as calm as I’ve ever been, my brain and body shifted into emergency mode I guess, while Emma shivered and shook and cried with shock and horror.
And that was my Saturday night.