It pulled to a stop by some bushes, and an officer slowly climbed out with a flashlight in hand, shining it over at Zach.
“What’s going on here?” he asked briskly, in a voice that sounded like he was chewing on tissue paper. Zach shielded his eyes.
“My ride hit this deer.”
“It’s a half hour past curfew… Where’s your ‘ride’ now?” the officer asked, lips hardly moving lips to form his words. He was a burly man with hair on his forearms and a neatly trimmed mustache, holding on to a stern expression tinged by late-night tiredness. It looked like he didn’t want to be here, so Gentry kept his voice soft when answering:
“At the prom.”
“Well, you’ll want to call the Sanitation Department for that. I’ll give you their number…”
“I know damn well what the sanitation department does, and we don’t need it.” Zach spoke up, “We need medical care.”
The officer promptly flashed his light at the deer, “I still have to patrol real crimes tonight...” the light fell on the rainbow GSA bracelet which hung loosely around Zach’s wrist, “may I ask what both of you are doing here together—”
“Our girls went to the prom without us.” Gentry quickly answered, and the officer shone his light back on Zach, who snapped:
“Turn that fucking thing off already! What we’re doing here is none of your business—”
“—Zach, shut up.” Gentry fired back at him, as the officer inquired,
“Are either of you aware that deer carry lyme disease?”
“If it was a person with AIDS—”
“—We didn’t want our dates to miss curfew.” Gentry interrupted Zach, “We stayed behind because it’s dangerous to be out here alone, and that deer— we can’t leave a hurt animal in the road. It might cause an accident.”
The officer eyed him skeptically, shone his flashlight out into the tree-lined distance and firmly said, “I’ll take care of it. You and your friend can take the bus... The nearest station is about three miles away, down this road.”
“You just want us to leave so you can kill it!”
“Zach, quiet. Look, officer. Is there anyone you can call?”
The officer stared at him with cool-eyed contempt, yet Gentry went on undeterred,
“We’re not leaving this deer behind.”
The officer gave a gruff sigh and Gentry added, “I can put my coat on the seat…”
“I’ll have to ask my superiors.” The officer pulled out his cellphone, and dialed a number. Gentry looked back at Zach, who gave him a look worth reckoning with.