You know how guys talk to each other, don’t you? No? Well, I was with a guy the other day. He was giving me a lift.
‘Nice car.’
That was me. He said it wasn’t his. His was in the garage.
‘Oh?’
‘Deer ran in front of me. Up in the Ashdown Forest.’
For a second, I imagined the huge, looming beast, the spine-jolting smash, the utter, brain-wiping shock at the moment of impact.
I said, ‘What, Danehill? Chelwood Gate? Somewhere around there?’
‘Yeah.’
We talked about a couple of A-roads. We considered the geographical relationship to each other of some villages and towns.
I said, ‘Did it just die, then? Just like that?’
‘Well, it sort of…went off and fell down.’
‘It could walk?’
‘Not really. But sort of. One of its legs had got caught in the wheel-arch.’
And for another moment, not long, I thought of the animal, something the size of a small cow, somehow being sucked into the mechanism of the car and churned around; I thought of the internal damage, the deer’s aorta probably being ripped from its moorings inside the chest cavity; I thought of that one final, heroic effort to get to the side of the road. I once saw a dog do that.
‘But you still get the insurance, right?’
He said, ‘Yeah. I’m covered.’


Deer monsters: ever thought about the way men talk?