the museum of americana

a literary review

I’m a Taxidermy Deer Head Just Trying to Make It Here in New York City—Fiction by Sue D. Gelber

It’s been four months since I moved to your apartment on Columbus Avenue, and I must confess: this is not what I was expecting.

At first I was excited to live somewhere new after spending decades at Treasures and MORE second-hand store in Montana, the state of my birth—and death. I thought I’d stay there forever, watching other items get snatched up each summer: the antler-shaped salad tongs, the toilet-paper holder made from a horseshoe, the animatronic trout who sang Take Me to the River. Even the Pony Express Salt and Pepper Shakers sold, despite the fact that the Pony Express never ran through Montana.

I knew from the day I was left in the donation bin behind the store that I wouldn’t be a hot item. My fur is worn along my snout, one of my glass eyes is missing, and I smell musty after being stored in a basement for most of the 90s. I was longing for someone who would recognize the natural beauty inside of me, but who would want the head of a deer shot by someone else?

I was resigned to hanging out at Treasures and MORE with the other castoffs for the rest of eternity. Until you came along.

I thought for sure you’d take the hand-painted sign adorned with snow-capped peaks that said, “Welcome to the Mountains, Can You Bear It?” You even had your wallet out, ready to go, until your wife got involved. “We don’t have a view of the park, much less mountains. It’s just stupid,” she said. “Can we leave now?”

Then your eyes met my remaining one. “How about that?” you asked. Your wife rolled her eyes (she still has two), but it didn’t diminish the smile on your face. Even with a chipped antler, I felt like the handsomest deer in the world.

What a dream come true, to finally be discovered and whisked off to New York City! The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. It’s perfect, because I never sleep either! I’m always staring with my one eye wide open.

But so far, it’s not what I imagined. I thought I’d be in one of those high-rises with walls of glass, a spacious palace with sleek mid-century modern furniture and a friendly but quirky doorman who would announce glamorous celebrities stopping by to say hello. I was hoping you might be neighbors with Kevin Bacon. He was so good in The River Wild. Did you know they filmed some of that on the Flathead River in Montana? It’s kind of like he and I are old friends.

But I haven’t seen a single celebrity since I arrived. Instead, I’m stuck in this 864-square-foot apartment which, no offense, is kind of small. Also, your wife was right about not having a view. The only thing I can see out the window is the concrete wall of the 24-hour “E-Z Park” garage next door.

Maybe I was naïve thinking I’d take New York by storm. I imagined using my antlers to drive away paparazzi at the Met Gala. I pictured myself hob-nobbing with the beautiful people at some secret, exclusive nightclub. Then, after dancing until dawn, I’d stand under the glittering lights of Broadway and declare, “I have arrived!”

But I have no legs.

So, I’m hanging on this wall, forced to stare while you eat sushi and binge-watch Westworld.  

Still, I’m not ready to give up on my New York dreams. I may be a little mangy and have no body, but I’m an untamed animal with a story to tell. Back in Montana, you saw a spark in me. It’s time for me to share that spark with the world. So, I’ve been writing a musical about my experiences. It’s called Deer. Think of it as Cats with hooves.

It’s sure to be a hit. After all, felines are nothing compared to horned ruminant mammals. I even have an idea for the poster. “Deer: A Life in the Headlights.”    

This could be my big break. I just need to get a marquee name behind it. Do you think Kevin Bacon might be available?

 

 

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Sue D. Gelber is a New Englander turned Chicagoan now living in Colorado where she writes fiction, humor, and grocery lists. Her work has appeared in several online publications including McSweeney’sElectric LiteratureWeekly Humorist, and The New Yorker. You can track her down at suedgelber.com or follow her on twitter at @suegelber.