21 October 2010

Fairfield University

16 Nov 2009. The recognizable image and ubiquity of the deer in the U.S. make it popular on seals and coats of arms. But it is rarely a sports mascot despite its speed, strength, and knives on its head. A pro basketball team has taken 'Bucks' and Fairfield is trying hard with 'Stags' though even that sounds a bit shady. Limited, wussy synonyms are holding the deer back. Yet on the feline side we have panthers, tigers, lions, cougars, wildcats, tiger-cats, and bearcats (which is totally made-up, where are the beardogs, the eaglemoose, and the sharkdeer?).

"Gggghhhhh." Benny remained stooped over, one hand on the hefty planter of mountain laurel, the other over his stomach. Light snow started gathering on his back. He looked up and saw his neon green work.
"Frakking ABSINTHE. I will never, never, never, NEVER drink like that again."
Blue light flickered off the street sign ahead. Benny recognized the light pattern without having to turn.
"Please no cops. Please no cops. Don't want another drunk in public. I just want to sit here in this...what is this...bank parking lot for a little while more."
The blue lights mellowed to green. Benny rubbed his eyes and commanded them to
"See normal!"
but the lights stayed green. He finally turned around to face the law.
Sure enough, it was the cops. A green and white police cruiser with a green light bar and...green headlights? It momentarily mesmerized Benny.
"Never seen one of those."
The driver side door opened. The aviatored female cop asked her rhetorical questions quickly and authoritatively.
"Someone called in a report of alcohol renunciation at this location. Do you know anything about this, sir?"
"Uh, I don't have my phone. What is a renunciation?"
"Did you recently swear off drinking, sir?"
"I...I don't know. Maybe." Benny glanced at the side of the cruiser: GREEN FAIRY SHERIFF. Green Fairy?? Was that by Mystic? That was a good hour away!
The cop suddenly produced a clipboard from nowhere. "Take a listen: 'I will never, never, never, never drink like that again.' Sound familiar?"
"Are you going to arrest me or not?"
"You will be visited tonight by our cervine patrolmen. They'll handle it from here. Have a good night." The cop scribbled a few notes on her clipboard and drove off.

Benny stood, blinking. He didn't know where he was, or what happened that night. He did know he was not waiting for any other cops. Before he could start off in any non-face-first direction, a sharp pop made Benny jump. A light at the bank's entrance had burnt out with the piercing of...an antler. Its attached voice came straight from the frat house.
"Whoa! I'm still not used to these things. Got 'em last week, you know. My first renunciation. I guess I did pretty well." The deer admired his rack in the bank window.
"What's going on? What did I drink??"
"It's not what you drank, dude, it's what you promised not to drink. Do you have any idea what your life would be like without alcohol? How many good things have happened to you because of it?"
"Anybody see this? I'm getting lectures from TALKING DEER HERE!!"
"Relax, dude. Just go with it. Now climb on up, it's time for some show and tell."
The deer flicked his head. Benny's feet gave out from under him. Instead of bruising his tailbone, he flew up onto the deer's back. Benny grabbed onto the green-velveted antlers.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy on the sweet antlers. Hold the scruff, thanks."
Benny looped his arms around the deer's neck. The deer walked into the empty street. He started up into a gallop.
"Didn't our officer tell you I was coming, dude?"
"..She...I don't know...I'm not in my best mind right now."
"Yeah, but who ever is?"
The deer leaped over some shrubs. It didn't land, instead rising higher in the snowy sky. Benny wove his fingers together, putting a skinny-boy death grip on his ride.
"Jeezum crow, ghost deer! What is happening!?"
"I already said, show and tell. And my name's J.M." - the deer affected an over-the-top macabre voice - "your Spirit of Liquors Paaaast."

The deer and rider appeared in the middle of a cafeteria. The tables were lined with chafing dishes and young people, both reflecting the flood of fresh daylight.
"Recognize this?" asked J.M.
Benny answered, "Sure, it's the dining hall back at Fairfield."
"More specifically?"
An older student dressed in black walked past. "There's my old roommate, Trevor. Hey Trevor!"
"Don't worry about that, they can't see us. Pay attention, Benny. Look." J.M. nodded to the end of a long table. Trevor sat and started chatting with a blonde. The body language said they had just met.
"Cynthia! I think, hmm, I think this is - "
J.M. and Benny stepped back as the younger Benny walked past them. Young Benny was carrying a tray and sat next to Trevor. Young Benny waved hello and started in on his stack of waffles.
"Yes! This is where I first met Cynthia. Surprised she talked to me after this. Not my finest moment."
"Oh, no?"
"Look at me, still swaying, face first into my breakfast. Too much whatever from the night before."
"You had 7 Jagerbombs the night before. Pretty strong performance. Benny, if you hadn't had the urge to stifle your hangover with a super stack of dining hall waffles, you'd never have met your future wife. You follow yet?"
"Because of...Jagermeister, that's why you're here? Why not thank the waffles?"
"I don't see the ghost of Aunt Jemima parading you around. Waffles don't factor into the next one. Cassie will take over from here, dude."
"Who's Cassie?"
Benny looked over his shoulder. A golden stag motioned J.M. away. The floor dropped out from underneath. The people and plateware melted into wisps. The walls collapsed and the light shrank from view. Benny found himself atop his new friend.

"Cassie, huh."
"Mucho gusto." Benny was surprised to hear a feminine voice from a 12-point buck.
"I didn't think lady deers had antlers."
"No es realidad, Benny."

Cassie and Benny landed on an open grassy area. Cement paths criss-crossed the lawn. Towering above them was a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Fairfield's stag mascot. Benny dismounted and got his balance. He pointed to a building a couple hundred yards away.
"That's the dining hall there. Did we really need to travel through space and time? We could have just walked."
"Silencio. Mira."
Benny shut his mouth and looked. The moon and emergency blue lights illuminated two people walking toward the statue. Cassie and Benny backed off.
"Okay, okay, the dining hall thing was a stretch, but this - this definitely has alcohol to thank."
¿Por qué?"
"You didn't have to bring me here, I remember this vividly. Maybe not clearly, but vividly. Does that make sense? I don't care. I had just returned from Spring Break in Cancun. I brought Cynthia back a souvenir, but the tequila was to help me with my courage as well."
"Yes, it was - " Benny smirked at Cassie. "Ha! It was Cazadores! Verrry clever."
"Aquí es donde usted pediste que Cynthia le casara."
"And she said yes."
"Tu recuerdas muy bien."
"Of course I remember it well. I've always liked this deer statue. Very classy. Classy for Cassie. Hey, you're a deer. What do you think of it? Is it anatomically correct?"
Cassie grunted a deer laugh. "Es muy grande."
"What's big? The statue, or the antlers, or...?"
Cassie winked.
"Ha! No es realidad, right??"
Young Benny slipped the ring on Cynthia's finger.
They kissed and embraced.
And faded from view.

"No need to yell!" Benny was now grasping a shaggy black mane. He tried to raise his head to see who was driving or where he was going.
"Keep ya head down now! I knob a lot of renunciations, I don't want to knob you!"
The thick coarse hair matched the thick coarse Scottish accent.
"And I'm shoutin' to warm up your ears, coz it's gonna get LOUD!"
The hairy deer sped across the night sky. He descended toward a sparkling rainbow of pinpoint lights. The lights grew bigger. Building outlines came into view.
Benny and deer #3 were not slowing down.
"Hey, deer, sir, hey. Hey, uh, my stomach's still not 100%. So, please watch - "
The new deer spastically dipped, spun around the now-visible hotel complex, and stopped on a dime in the loading dock. Benny was rocked off onto the concrete.
"Oof. You enjoyed that, didn't you?"
"Always do. Name's Glen, not that you'll be using it. You're on your own for this one."
Benny didn't respond. He was taking stock of Glen's mess of antlers.
"Wow, 64 points? I didn't know that was possible."
"How many talking deer do you have to meet to realize this isn't real? Now get to that night club!"
Glen turned tail and booted Benny in the backside. He fell into the waiting freight elevator. The doors closed and brought him down, down, down. When they opened, he wandered to the end of the hall.
Scattered matchbooks on the ground told him he was in the Mohegan Sun casino. Cocktail waitresses were walking in and out a pair of double doors. He pushed his way in. Thumping house music assaulted his eardrums.
"The night club at the Mohegan Sun? What is this all about?"
A guy in a too-big sport coat wobbled past. He held the waist of a glammed-up blonde in one hand and a bottle of Glenfiddich in the other.
Benny, finally getting used to his invisibility, defiantly followed his wife and her companion. All three stumbled into the men's bathroom.

The freight elevator dinged hello. Benny, in his 'borrowed' sport coat, and Cynthia, in her little black dress, staggered out under power of bouncers.
Glen watched, puffing on an Arturo Fuente.
The bouncers and the couple exchanged shouts. The couple finally ended up shuffling across the parking lot.
Ghost Benny took the next elevator up. He confronted Glen.
"Why would you show me that? That was the single most embarrassing thing I have done. What's worse, I don't even remember any of it!"
Glen dropped his cigar and stamped it out, staying silent.
"Let me understand this now: J.M. shows me when I meet Cynthia, Cassie shows me proposing to her, and you show me getting thrown out of an Indian casino for having sex in their night club bathroom? One of these things is not like the others, Glen!"
"This one is a little less clear." Glen cleared his throat, lowering the volume. "But you really aren't seeing the common thread here?"
"What common thread?"
"Hmm. We may have jumped the gun then. Thought you knew."
"Thought I knew what?"
"I'll let her tell you."
Glen disappeared in a puff of smoke. The Mohegan Sun followed.

Benny, back in Fairfield, blinked his eyes. He shivered. A light layer of snow had gathered on his hair and sweater. He slowly pulled himself up the fence of...his house. He couldn't remember leaving the bank parking lot. Making his way in the front door, he kicked off his shoes, trying to be quiet. He didn't try hard enough. They knocked against the bannister with a thunk.
He swished with mouthwash in the front bathroom before heading upstairs.
Cynthia headed him off.
"Benny? Is that you?"
Cynthia came out of the bedroom. "What happened?"
"I lost my phone. I'm okay though. How are you doing?"
"I'm fine. I got some news for you."
"Uh oh, good news doesn't come in the middle of the night."
"It came earlier today. I tried to call and tell you!...I'm pregnant!"
"Pregnant?  Pregnant!  We're having a baby! That is good news! That's amazing! Ohh...."
"What? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. Hey, when were we at the Mohegan Sun last?"
"The casino? That was our anniversary, almost a year ago."
"Not quite a year. Nine months ago!"
"Nine months? You think that - "
"I know that."
"Great. We'll never be able to tell our kid his conception story."
"I'm sure he or she will be totally fine with that, Cynthia."
"Let's just stick to the stork story."
"Okay, the stork. Or the deer. Three wonderful, magical deer brought us our baby. One was green and talked with a surfer accent, one was a Mexican doe, and one was a 64-point Scottish buck."
"Uh, sure, why not. Benny, are you feeling well enough to celebrate? We still have some scotch left if you are."
Benny instinctively opened the upstairs liquor cabinet. His smile disappeared for a moment. He paused and looked closer at the bottle. He turned on the mini spotlight to examine the deer logo on the Glenfiddich bottle. He caught himself counting antler points again. He blinked and closed the cabinet door.
"Changed your mind, Benny?"
"Yeah, not now. I want to remember this celebration."
Benny clicked off the cabinet light and led Cynthia into the bedroom.

Outside, in the early morning snowfall, three deer grazed through Benny's front yard.
The bedroom light above them flickered on.  The deer took notice.

After a few minutes, the light faded away.
As did the deer.

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