Driving conditions around 8:30 on Friday night are ideal, more or less. In the 'more' column go dry roads, light traffic, ample visibility. All of these permit a high rate of travel, near the speed limit of 65, certainly not under. In the 'less' column land the four elk abruptly lit by my high beams. I inhale, short and tight.
"Why did you cross the road?" my mind dumbly wonders wanders as my right foot mashes the brake. Though sudden, the subsequent stop proves controlled and (frantic calculating) not quite short enough -- the tires avoiding screeching or skidding; the implacable animals keeping shuffling. I aim for the probably-bigger-than-car-sized gap between two of them who are still on my side of the road. Rewinding the moment, it feels analogous to bizarre miniature golf: vehicle as colored plastic ball and golden specimens of Cervus canadensis as thick, slow-rotating windmill paddles. My foot still pressing the brake, the seemingly nonplussed elk maintaining their cadence, we roll through the space in their ranks, all of us unscathed this time.
Then, the voice from the passenger seat: "You want me to keep my eyes open for a while?" I exhale, long and loose.