Why do you call him that asked Annie. You know he hates that.
Bernie’s got to learn to not let stuff like that bother him replied Double-J. He just —
Annie saw the deer first, called out as it leapt onto the road. Double-J stomped on his brake pedal, pulled the steering wheel hard to the right, the front end of the car veering to the side, the deer leapt again, the hoof from one of its rear legs thunking into the car’s hood, impact not forceful enough to alter the trajectory of the car as it ran off the road, straddling the peaks of the foot-high snow bank left behind by recent plowing, loose snow flying in the air, the whole scene resembling the inside of a snow globe that had been thrown violently against a wall.
Double-J pulled hard left, the left front wheel catching a firm patch of snow and twisting the rear of the car forward, to the right, the car finally stopping abruptly, the right side wedged deep into a high snow bank.
Annie looked out her side window, saw only white flecked with dirt and pine needles. She looked over at Double-J,eyes wide and staring at his dashboard, every light illuminated now that the engine had stalled. It was the first time she had seen him look confused.
Annie quickly patted her legs and torso, her hands finding everything she hoped to find and nothing she feared might have appeared.
Are you all right? she asked.
Double-J shook the dazed look from his face, turned to Annie. Yes. Are you hurt?
I’m fine. She breathed heavily a few times, saw her breath rising in the cold. We need to get out of the car. Double-J nodded silently, left arm reaching for his door handle.
The driver’s side of the car was elevated above the passenger side, making it difficult for Double-J to keep the door open. He got out slowly, cautiously, seemingly waiting for some unexpected event. Positioning his feet carefully in the snow, which his car had scarred flat, he held the door open with his left hand, and reached down into the car with his right towards Annie.