by Bruce Wood

THE DEER THIEF is a paranormal love story about a grieving man and a yearning ghost.

After the death of his life-partner, Ted moves to a tiny resort town to start a new life. He opens a shop, and his best friend, the supernatural Dream Guide Leslie, opens a coffee shop nearby. Things progress normally, but the lack of a prospective mate in the town bothers him. However, he notices that one young guy, Zack, a loner in his early twenties, seems to be stalking him. What Ted doesn't realize is that Zack is the ghost of a local man who was killed decades earlier before finding true love.

Ted is the only one who consistently sees Zack, but others in the town glimpse Zack occasionally. The combined sightings reinforce Ted's belief that Zack is alive.
At first, Zack shows up driving a 1956 Chevy BelAire, but he stops at a distance, and doesn't get out of the car. Then he starts walking by Ted's shop, dressed in an old red hunting jacket, with a Bowie knife attached to his belt. Eventually, Zack appears inside the shop, startling Ted and seeming startled himself, as he fumbles for words.

Ted is flattered by the attention, which he perceives as flirtation. One night, Zack shows up in Ted's house. After the shock wears off, they start to get to know each other.

Zack tells Ted about how he's been persecuted by his peers, abandoned by his parents, and shunned by his neighbors. His grandfather, Zack's only defender, put a curse on the town. They now fear the woods on East Road where Zack lives.

During their courtship, someone breaks into Ted's neighbor's barn, where a fresh-killed deer is hung up. The thief dresses the deer, steals the meat, and leaves the bones. When the police investigate the bizarre theft, they find that the deer was killed on East Road, and suspicion falls on Zack.

Zack becomes obsessed with revenge against the people who wronged him, and uses it to manipulate Ted into having a tight bond with him. Ted believes every word, and gradually falls in love.

Leslie sees that the relationship is jeopardized by Zack's vindictiveness, and confronts him. Feeling responsible, since she had been playing matchmaker between them, she tries to set things right. Without revealing her involvement to Ted, she enlists the help of her senior Dream Guide, Pothatch.

When Pothatch arrives, he is appalled that Leslie hadn't discovered Zack's personality flaw earlier. He also finds it very amusing that he was once Zack's Dream Guide, and had provided Zack's first sexual experiences.

While Ted sleeps, Pothatch confronts Zack and forces him to remember their relationship. Zack recoils from Pothatch and tries to send him away.

Unaware of Pothatch's intervention, Ted hides Zack from the police. However, he is troubled by the possibility that he may not know the truth about his new boyfriend. He enlists the help of the local newspaper's editor to investigate Zack's stories, and discovers that Zack died nearly fifty years ago. In shock, Ted assumes that the Zack he knows is a con-man.

Meanwhile, Zack eventually shows the vulnerability Pothatch had been waiting for. Without hesitation, Pothatch gives Zack an ultimatum: Choose him or choose Ted. If he chooses Pothatch, he will be thrown into an endless superficial party. By choosing Ted, he will have the love he yearns for, devoting himself to being Ted's life-companion. Finally, Zack must abandon revenge and reveal his nature to Ted. If Ted accepts it, they will be together forever.

When Ted confronts Zack about the veracity of his stories, turmoil ensues. After an evening of unexpected revelations, Ted awakes to hear Zack in the shower. Ted removes the Bowie knife from Zack's belt and heads for the bathroom. When Zack opens the shower door, Ted lies bleeding on the floor.

Later, Ted goes to the coffee shop. The door is locked and the windows are papered over with a FOR RENT sign. Going to his own shop, his key does not fit the lock. His windows are papered over, too.

Ted drives out to East Road and walks into the woods. Zack is there, leaning on his BelAire, smiling.


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(c) 2006 Bruce Wood, Inc. all rights reserved