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The International Writers Magazine: A Bukowski Moment

The Deer
Adam Graupe

men in bar

I hit a deer on the street in front of Bukowski’s Tavern.  I caught him on the right side of his face with a left hook, and he stumbled, regained his footing and caught me in the jaw with an uppercut.  My whole world turned black, and I felt the pavement rise up and hit me in the jaw.  I awoke with my chin resting on the concrete, and I saw the deer holding his face in his hooves weeping.  He helped me to my feet and told me he was sorry.
“Forget it,” I said.
“No sir, let me buy you a drink.”  He patted me on the back and continued, “I just got a little carried away.”

He was a strange buck.  Ten minutes earlier, we were strangers sitting side by side in the tavern when suddenly he yelled that he was furious because it didn’t look like I was having any fun.  He went on to say my face reminded him of his father’s and that he was going to “kick my ass.”

We walked arm and arm back into the tavern and bellied up to the bar.  He ordered me a Baileys and himself a pitcher of Miller Light.  He drank straight from the pitcher and asked me, “What’s your name, son?”
I slammed the Baileys.  It hit me right where I lived, and I said, “Ernie, yours?”
“Leroy.”  He chugged down the pitcher, and I noticed that his nose was red from drinking.  He wore a nylon jacket with Dewey the Pug Trucking embroidered on the front.   He leaned toward me, and I flinched because I thought one of his antlers might clip my face.  He whispered, stinking of booze and cigars, “you are the best friend I’ve ever had.” 
I didn’t say anything, and Leroy asked me, “What do you do for fun?”
“I like to write.”
His face lit up and he shouted, “You’re a writer?”
“Not so loud.  I’m not a writer.  It’s just a hobby.  Nothing else.”    
Leroy pulled his wallet out of his front trouser pocket and said, “I write poems.  Would you like to hear one?  It’s here in my wallet.”
“Oh, please no,” I thought, not saying anything.  Leroy’s ears started to point back, and I worried that he might start shouting and wanting to fight again, so I placated him and said, "let’s hear it.”

Leroy stood up from his barstool and read his poem:
I am a fire-bellied toad,
floating on an elliptical leaf,
down a river,
that came from a waterfall,
of your tears.
I fought the urge to laugh at him.  Leroy stared at me, and asked, “Well, Ernie, what do you think?”
“Who is Kristie?”  I asked, hoping to detract him.
Leroy let out a sob.  I braced myself thinking he was going to cry again.  I had known Leroy for less than an hour, and I was already getting tired of him.  He said, “She’s my wife.”
“Where is she?”  I asked.
“That’s just it, pal.  She’s dead, but where is she?  In heaven?  Or in hell with me right now?”  He ordered a bottle of beer and took a long hit.
“How did she die?”
“She got hit by a taxi.”
I thought for a moment and said, “Getting hit by cars seems to be the plight of most deer.”
He screamed.  “You don’t know anything!  She got a hit by a taxi while she was in a crosswalk.  A crosswalk!  But did the taxi driver even get as much as a ticket?  Hell no!  In fact, the cop ended up taking Kristie’s body home with him, chopped her up, and put her in his freezer.  The sick bastard!”    

A voice boomed, deep and confident from behind us:  “Kristie was a whore.”  Leroy and I turned in unison.  A fat man dressed in orange stood with a Remington 870 twelve-gauge shotgun pointed at Leroy.  “Come on,” the fat man said, “Let’s go.”
Leroy grabbed the bottle and chugged the rest of his beer down.  He patted me on the shoulder and said, “So long Ernie.  Don’t cry for me, I’ve had a good life.”  He choked down a sob, and I patted him on the back.  He was an obnoxious S.O.B., but I was sad to see him go.
“Hey!”  The bartender shouted to the hunter, “You better have a hunting license.  Leroy is my best customer.”  The hunter fished his license out of one of his pockets, and the bartender shrugged and said, “I’ll see you on the other side, Leroy.”
Leroy made the long walk to the alleyway, and the door shut.  Then we heard the shot.  I hated hunting:  ‘treat animals as you would treat people’ was my motto.  I pushed the thought aside and noticed Leroy’s poem on the countertop.  I reread it a few times and thought about it.  It wasn’t such a bad poem, and I decided to submit it to a few magazines to see what happened. 

© Adam Graupe May 2010
Biography:  Adam Graupe has been published in magazines in Finland, England, and America.  Visit his author's website at:

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