Josh’s Deer by Stephen Harutunian

I teach ninth grade English in Vermont, just south of the Champlain islands. At the faculty holiday party, a colleague told me that her eight year old asked Santa for a cell phone. That reminds me, I said.

It was Fall. Before class, Josh asked me if I wanted to see a picture of his deer. (Josh is short and fat with scraggly yellow hair. His face is red. He can’t read. He wears his clothes too big and a camouflage duct tape hat. He reads magazines about dirt-bikes.)

You have a deer? I said

The one I shot, he said, taking his phone from his pocket.

I said they didn’t used to allow phones in school. And phones didn’t used to take pictures, either.

You don’t want to see it?

You’ve already shown me, I said. He knew it was a lie. And though I wanted to, I couldn’t let him down. Alright, I said. Okay.

He gave me the phone. The deer’s head like a slab of meat on the grill grates in the cab of his father’s pick up. Red Chevrolet. Calvin pissing on a peace sign.

Looking at the picture, I felt Josh’s pride.

I’m gettin’ the head for my birthday in August, he said. I’m gonna hang it on the wall in my room when we move to Fletcher.

So why take a picture? I asked, handing him the phone.

I dunno, he said. Why not?


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Filed under Stephen Harutunian

15 responses to “Josh’s Deer by Stephen Harutunian

  1. Very nicely done! It is another world – or is it the same old world (hanging the head on the wall) with different/advanced technology? Food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I like the interaction between the two characters here. The need, and the response.

  3. Where to start? So much about this disturbs me, not least of which is that I can envision this actually happening. Well told.

  4. Libby R

    Stephen Harutunian is my hero.

  5. Kim Hutchinson

    There’s a lot going on in this simply told tale. Nice.

  6. duct-taped camou hat. calvin pissing on a peace sign…great stuff.

  7. guy

    I’m often in just this neck of the woods. I run into more deer-hunters on the other side of the lake, around Plattsburgh, and in Quebec. I think that’s mostly because of the places i go. Lots of deer hunters here in Wisconsin, too of course.

    Anyway, i like the teacherly interaction. The teacher/narrator has to tread softly while the kid takes pride in bloodsport. There’s also a class difference that these two are discovering.

  8. great telling details here. these two are worlds apart but closer than they were. great response to the theme. peace…

  9. I like you interpretation of this week’s theme and the exploration of the characters revealed in your flash. Lots of great choices in your minute details, and the murky, disturbing theme is, well, creative.

  10. I love the way this flows through different points in time with economy. Both the out of place teacher, and the hunter’s kid took me back to my own jr high days–perhaps why I responded so well to this one. Great voice!

    “He can’t read / he reads magazines about dirt bikes” threw me a bit, was it intentional?

  11. Nicolette Wong

    Oh…very punching story. Lovely details.

  12. Matt DeVirgiliis

    Conversations between hunters and non-hunters always amuses me. Such a realistic story.

  13. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  14. Lynne Rossi

    I tasted it. I smelled it. I felt it. I was the teacher. I was the child. More, please. ~Lynne R.

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