Wednesday Morning Elk [Revised]

elk head lying in the road in Taos, NM

Just another day in Llano Quemado

My wife goes to an exercise place (Curves) at 6:30 a.m. five days a week. What a good deal all the way around. First of all, the routine really works. I’m the husband, pay attention. Second, she relays all kinds of gossip from the majority community, which I really dig. And third, after she comes home, I usually stagger out of bed, wave to her sitting in the next room having breakfast and tea with the cat on her lap, hit the bathroom, put on my bathrobe, pour a cup of coffee, and get to hear her say things like:

“I have to tell you something right away! There’s an elk’s head in the middle of the road in front of the banjo girls’ house!”

(Sometimes I think this is why I got married. Oh yes. Next you’ll want to know why we call it the “banjo girls’ house,” and I don’t blame you.)

I inquired further.

“An elk’s head? Does it have horns?”

“Yes,” she said. “They go back over its head like this.” [making swooping motion from front to rear]

“Really? Wow, that sounds like a bighorn sheep!”

No matter what it was, one had to go. I put my coffee down, pulled on shoes, a pair of jeans, and a hoodie, grabbed my camera, and left. There was only a short distance to walk. If it were the head of a protected sheep and I could get a photo, maybe it would help convict the poacher and bring a fine reward. Even a down payment on a house! (I walked a little faster.) Amazingly, the devil dogs that usually sleep in the dirt by the banjo girls’ house were nowhere to be seen. New Mexico is a land of miracles. This one more than compensated for the “just”-an-elks-head I saw when rounding the corner. The horns were sawed or broken off, as near as I could tell.

My wife drove off later for the grocery store. On her way out, a black dog (of course) was gnawing on it. When she returned, the head was gone. There’s a thing about skulls and such in this part of the world, so I hope it doesn’t come back or end up wired to the branches of a tree beside someone’s front door. Yes, I saw that once.

Local voodoo, maybe. Damn stuff is everywhere.

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  • christian ienni November 20, 2013, 11:21 PM

    ouch!

    and yes, i do want to know now: WHY is it called “banjo girls’ house”??

    • JHF November 21, 2013, 6:22 PM

      A number of years ago there were two little girls who lived there. They may still live there, but they ain’t little no more. At the time they were maybe nine or ten. One day as we drove past their house, they both stood at attention in front of the gate and pretended to be playing instruments. They may have had toy plastic guitars or something, I honestly can’t remember, but their stance and hand motions suggested banjo players to us. Ergo the “banjo girls’ house.”

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