Milk and Honey Chapter One (RSV)

The lad was born on a cold winter’s night in 1960.  It was a beastly, beastly cold night; trust me.  I’d been out in the bush all day.  Normand was supposed to come too, but his porch light was off, so I left him alone.  I’ve always liked huntin’ by myself better anyway.  He makes too much noise.  He scares off all the deer before we even see ‘em: steps on every friggin’ dead stick in all of Ontario with those big, black boots of his.  Of course, that’s when he actually chooses to hunt.  Most of the time, he doesn’t give a shit about gettin’ anything.  He usually just dicks around, spends most of the day tending the fire and whittlin’ wood and smokin’ good ‘bacci: he is a hell of a bullshitter, too.  “ Fuck’m”, I thought to myself as I pulled out of his driveway in my ol’ ‘53 Dodge, careful not to rev the engine, lest I wake the bastard up.

I didn’t see an animal all day, and I did a hell of a lot of walkin’: there was just a lil’ skiff of snow on the ground, not enough to see a blood trail, much less track anything.  I built a small little fire ‘round noon and cooked up some sausage and a couple potatoes.  I made some good strong swill to wash down the greasy sausage (mostly pork) I had in my pack that day.  I had a nap next to the fire and then I walked out into the bush again.  The wind started blowin’ real hard-like after lunch, so I sat behind a big ol’oak tree for shelter.

I’ve always told Normand that the time for killing deer is just as the day is getting dark: that day was a perfect fuckin’ example.  I’d been sittin’ on my ass for over two hours: it was a good spot—I could see a lot of country, it was on top of a lil’ hill, way back in the bush—long way from the Dodge.  I had my lil’ thirty-thirty with me: open sights, not much use for long range shots.  I was shiverin’ pretty bad by the time I saw the little buck come out of the bush.

Like I said, it was pretty dark by the time I saw his silhouette.  I knew he had a rack on ‘im, but couldn’t tell how many spikes.  He just stood there, happy, I suppose, in the almost-dark.  He was about 100 yards away.  I knew I had to shoot quick; even considered not shootin’ at all.  I stayed down on my ass. I used my knees to steady my arms and BANG, he went down like a cheap whore: bullet went right through his pink lungs.  I didn’t even have to put a bullet in his head.

I lit a fire and started pullin’ out the fucker’s guts.  I had my frying pan with me, and an onion, so I was eatin’ by the time I finished dressin’ him out: nothin’, no. thing. tastes better than fresh liver from a dead deer, trust me.  I felt kinda bad eatin’ though; Marie told me before I left that morning that she was gonna make a stew for supper.  She makes the best friggin’ venison stew there is, or ever will be, but I must say that I like fresh liver’n’onions even better!  I figured by the time I dragged this big bastard home I’d be hungry again anyways.

So, I started draggin’ him.  I wished that Normand was there to help me, useless as he is.  If there was some snow on the ground, the whole process woulda been much easier, but here wasn’t, of course.  I sweat like a goddamn pig—felt like a mule, goin’ up and down those hills.  I made it about half a mile before giving up, pretty good for an ol’ boy like me.  I figured I could hang the beast from the big ol’ oak at the bottom of the hill (had my winch with me, like every good hunter will), go fetch Normand and finish the job.  I got to his house a little after six.

The fucker was already passed out.  Some big book was on his lap; he snored.  His wife ate her supper alone.  She gave me some of the pie she’d made for him that afternoon, and apologized.  I felt bad for her and told her it was alright, that I understood full well; I did.  I walked back to the truck and drove home.  The wind was howling like a friggin’ coyote.  The heater in the truck was busted, so I shivered despite its shelter.

By the time I got home, my kids were already sleepin’.  Marie sat there in her reading chair, and she didn’t even look up from her book when I came through the door.  “Hey babe.”  I said.  “Oh, hi Marcel, there’s some stew left on the stove; probably burned by now.  You’d better have blood on your hands.”  “I do!  Got a nice little buck, just as it was gettin’ dark, of course.  Where’s the fuckin’ ladle?”  “I have no idea, we used the wooden spoon.  It’s in the sink.  You save some liver for me?”  “Ummm…. Bad shot.  Poor bastard: his liver probably looks like Normand’s.  Figure we’ll have sausage by Monday though, if the old boy gets off this fuckin’ bender he’s on…”  “You didn’t bring anything home?”  “Nah, I’ll go fetch it tomorrow.  I’m beat.”  “Marcel, didn’t a fuckin’ bear get at the last deer you killed at night?  The freezer’s almost empty, and Jean eats like a horse.  You know that.  We are going to get that meat before something else does.”

I chuckled under my breath and quickly changed the subject.  I hoped she would forget about the fresh blood hanging from the old oak tree: “How you feelin’ today, Marie?  Yer back still givin’ ya grief?”  “I am fine, Marcel, thank you.  Finish your fuckin’ stew and let’s go get that deer before it gets even colder.”  “Marie, you’re pregnant.  There’s no fuckin’ way I’m gonna let you pull that a deer up a hill and into the back of the truck.  Finish your book and go to sleep.”  But she already had her boots on, stubborn broad.  “Marcel, I’m only eight months pregnant.  Jean and Anne were both late; I’m fine.  I want that meat.  We’re getting that fucking deer tonight.  If you don’t wanna come, tell me where it is and I’ll drag it myself.  I’m not like your sisters, by the way.  I refuse to sit on my ass for nine months bitching and complaining, us Dulouze women are tough.  I can do this and I will.  Go fuck yourself.”

My mother had always said that she hoped I would marry a woman as stubborn as I am; I did.  Marie’s stubborn as a fuckin’ mule.  But God, she looked sexy, standing there in boots and a big ol’ beaver skin coat.  I’ve always loved pregnant women– her especially, of course.  We got in the truck and drove south.  Our black shadows soon fell upon moonlit grass.

I had just freed the deer from his tree when Marie let loose a howl and dropped the lamp.  “You alright?”  It was the wrong question to ask.  “FUCK!  Marcel.  Oh, my God!  My fucking water just broke!  Holy… fuck!  Jesus Christ!”  A wave of nausea washed over me; some of the deer liver made its way up to the back of my throat.  “Oh my God.  Marie?  Sit down here.  What the fuck are we gonna do?  Fuck!”  She listened to me, for once, and sat her ass down on the deer’s hind quarter.  I couldn’t believe it.  “Are you sure it was your water that broke?  You said you were ok?”  Her eyes poked two hatred holes in the darkness: she silenced me with those eyes.  She lowered the lamp to light her pants to make her point; the wool exhaled a thick cloud of steam, the wind was wild.

We were silent for a while, though she was crying, by then.  She threw the lamp at me in despair.  I knew we needed to get back home.  It was beastly cold and getting colder.  “Do you think you can make it home, babe?”  “I think he’s comin’ now, Marcel.  What the fuck are you doing, just standing there!  Build me a goddamn fire.  Can’t you see, I’m fuckin’ freezing.  You fucking lazy motherfucking piece of shit!”  I stumbled about the darkness, my knuckles dragged along the ground in search of sticks and smaller tinder.  By the time I had a fire lit, she was frantic as hell.  I have never seen her as scared as she was that night.

Believe me, when I tell you that, at the time, I had had absolutely no training as a midwife.  My sisters had helped Marie the first two times she gave birth.  Her water broke: I went fishing.  Between breaths, she said something that vaguely resembled coherent speech: “Could you help me off with my pants?”  Usually, I’d be more than happy to oblige such a request, but in the wind, I cringed at the mere prospect of touching her filthy wool pants.  I looked away and held my breath as I delicately took off her soaked, woolen pantaloons.  I gathered the courage to do the same with her drenched linens.

I’ve never seen anything even vaguely resembling what I saw by the lamplight that night.  “Tabernac!” I screamed as a huge, red gaping wound stared right back at me from between her shaking legs, “It looks like you’ve been fucked by a horse, Marie!”  She screamed, louder than I have ever heard anyone on earth scream, and pushed out the tiny, hairy head of he, who would, one day, be my second son.  I almost puked again, and almost fainted; I had to sit down beside her for a while to get my bearings.  “Marcel, what the fuck are you doing?  Taking a fucking break?  Get up off yer ass and fucking help me you bastard, motherfucker!”  Her kind words shook me from the paralyzing, sickening shock which had, temporarily, commanded me, and I stuck my hands between her legs, once again, supporting the tiny head of our new, silent infant.  “You’re doing a great job Marie!”  I screamed.  “Shut the fuck up motherfucker!  I hate you!”  “You are a wonderful woman!”

The boy was over a month premature.  He was tiny as fuck.  I can’t quite remember what the doctor said he weighed the next day, but, it didn’t take much for her to push the small boy out of her snatch and onto the dead grass.  Soon, she was closing again, silently sobbing.  I held my boy for the first time.

My job was to deal with the thick cord lying next to the rope I had used to lift that fuckin’ deer into the sky: it was nearly almost as strong, too, swear t’ Christ!  I cut the chord with my father’s ol’ hunting knife, which was covered with hair of the deer Marie rested upon while she wept.  I used my extensive knowledge of various fishing knots to take care of the boy’s portion of the cord.  A few days later, the boy was christened by Father Baudrillard: Luc Marc Louis entered the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  He was incredibly small and cried throughout the service.

When the cord was finally tied, I tried to shelter the boy’s face from that nasty, winter wind.  I then checked on Marie, who was shaking like a friggin’ leaf.  She sat on the hindquarters of the beastly buck.  I helped her with her linens and her pants, which were, by then, frozen solid.  “Are you gonna be able to make it home, babe?”  “Yeah, I’m alright, just really cold.”  “Ok, let’s get home then.”  “Wait, what about the deer?”  I laughed aloud.  “Don’t worry, I’ll come back in the morning.”  She gave me that look of hers.  “Oh, fuck off, Marcel.  We’ve dragged it this far—might as well finish the job.  Did you leave your fuckin’ balls at home, or whar?”  “You can’t be serious.”  She was.  “Well how are we gonna drag this fucker and carry the little guy?”  She smiled her sexy, aggravating smile.

Upon her direction, I pulled the boy from his makeshift nest inside my warm, down jacket, and placed him in the vacant cavity of the deer’s chest, which, miraculously, was still warm.  I only saw Luc by lamplight, that evening, but I would be willing to bet that he cracked that ridiculous grin of his for the first time as we dragged him and the deer back home.  I’d bet he delighted in the smell of blood and bone and cud; God knows I always have.  The boy’s journey was finally over; he slept between us that night without making much of a fuss.

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One Response to Milk and Honey Chapter One (RSV)

  1. Pingback: On (re) Writing a Novel « Milk and Honey 2009

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