One second we were playing, the next all of us stood frozen at attention, staring in disbelief at what it was we were witnessing. There in the front yard, just a couple of feet away from us, well, on the other side of the barb wired fence to be exact, leaned my mother as hard as she could against her legs, pulling her body back with more force than I’d ever seen her use. She was holding a rope in her hands and as my eyes made their way across it, there on the other side stood a full grown adult deer, pulling back as hard as she was, but apparently not as forcefully, because as we stood there in between the screen door, that by this time was creaking from my older sisters having run out of the house to witness what the rest of us were yelling about like maniacs, and the static propane tank that sat a couple of yards away from our pig pens and hen houses, my mother had managed to tie this wild beast against a wooden post from our same barb wired fence.
Before pulling up her handmade dress, just a tad in order to climb back into our yard through the barb wire, and turning back to scold us for not having even attempted to help during her more than three minute struggle with the deer in front of us, my mother let out a smile of satisfaction with herself. She was proud of what she had just accomplished, and by the look on her face it was clear she was also imagining exactly how we would devour every last bit of meat on that rather plump deer. We had never seen a venado this close, much less this size and height. It must have been at least three feet high, four with its antlers, and pretty round around the stomach too.
Who knew what deer tasted like, but it was meat!
The rest of the day we all kept playing around the wild beast, talking about how it might taste in tacos, soup, barbecue, or even mixed in as ham or tosino with our regular eggs and beans. This wasn’t like the time my uncle had tried to trick us into eating snake – we actually wanted to taste the deer in our front yard. Bambi the movie had already been released, and we had all watched it by now, but despite that fact none of us really felt sorry for the animal in our front yard. We were hungry… for something new. For a feast of our own, maybe not as fancy as our closest neighbors, my cousins and uncles, would have, which for some reason our family was never invited to, but better than eggs and beans for breakfast, with spinach on the side or mixed in with our egg, and arroz y frijoles for lunch and dinner, over and over and over, again and again, everyday of the year.
All of us were practically salivating at the possibilities.
Little did we know that as soon as dad came home that night our gastronomic fantasies would all be over. He practically leaped out of our house as soon as my mother proudly confessed her shining achievement for the day over dinner. Yelling like a mad man he paced around the yard trying to figure out from my mother who had seen her drag the deer across the woods into our yard, if anyone had seen the animal tied up against our fence, and wondering if anybody had noticed that there was one less deer in the wilderness surrounding us tonight. For as much as my mother argued that nobody would notice one more or less deer in all of that monte out there, or that it was only fair for us to keep and eat that animal as compensation for the little money my father earned for all of his hard work, all of fifteen dollars a day, he could not be convinced to slay that beast and stock up our refrigerator with meat for many, many weeks to come. Instead, despite and over my mother’s yelling súplicas, he dutifully untied the deer and let it run away into the darkness.
The land we lived on was the property of my uncle’s boss. We were there de arrimados, mojados at that, so my father didn’t want to make any waves, much less be accused of stealing one of their deer, at least that’s what he’s kept as his story until now. Again, we stood in disbelief, this time as our delectable prey disappeared from our sight.
Every once in a while my mother still sarcastically brings up the deer, and how we would have had so much meat for such a long time had my father not been so scared. He doesn’t say anything anymore. Just sits there quietly and let’s her tell her story.