(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This story is outwardly a simple one about the events that follow a nighttime accident on a rural road. Those events take an unusual turn, however, and end in a room in which social standards have, for the moment, been discarded.

At nightfall, Bob Frankenmuth is driving between cities but not paying attention to the road, being preoccupied with thoughts of leaving his wife. He hits a deer, which damages the right front end of his pickup truck, including one headlight. When he gets out to inspect the damage and the dead animal, he is surprised by the appearance of a car rushing down the road at too great a speed. The car’s driver swerves and loses control, crashing into a tree. Bob finds the driver, Laura Spalding, apparently unhurt and both laughing and weeping at the accident. Her car, however, is wrecked. At his offer to take her to a garage, she says she was rushing to the house of her boyfriend, who had just threatened suicide over the phone. She took the threat seriously because he fired one of his guns next to the phone receiver.

Bob does not want to leave the deer for someone else to pick up. It shows no visible damage. He envisions giving it to his wife, to provoke her. With Laura’s help, he heaves it in the back of his truck.

Although he has doubts about facing this gun-wielding boyfriend, Bob thinks the encounter offers an interesting change of pace. He has been feeling disgruntled at his wife, who has returned to school to become a teacher. Driving toward Laura’s boyfriend’s house, he also recognizes elements he has come...

(The entire section is 644 words.)