Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sasquatch Story Interlude

I blather on a lot about my books, but I also have quite a few published short stories. I made two collections of the stories a while back. The first, Mixed Bag, is my "freebie" sampler with a dozen short stories. You can get a free ebook copy at Smashwords.

I doubled down on Mixed Bag II: Supersized to include a number of stories showing my darker side. Also available in ebook at Smashwords, I priced it at a bargain 99 cents.

Print editions are also available on Amazon.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, I have a fondness for Bigfoot. I wrote a couple of stories featuring the big, hairy guy. The illustration by Holly Eddy was published with the story in Lorelei Signal way back in 2006. The story is fairly long, so I'm splitting it into two parts and posting the 2nd tomorrow.

Chilpequin 22 Miles
Originally published in Lorelei Signal and
“A Time To..., Volume 1” from Wolfsinger Press

I like to take the roads less traveled. Bless Mr. Frost’s heart for that thought. So, when I saw a tiny sign–Chilpequin 22 Miles–I just couldn’t resist and turned off the main highway. Like the bear who went over the mountain, I wanted to see what I could see in Chilpequin.

The road was narrow and had more than its fair share of potholes. I bumped along at way less than the recommended speed. I guessed the highway crews haven’t been up this way for a while.

In about an hour, I pulled into beautiful downtown Chilpequin, which seemed to consist of a gas station with a Mom & Pop store attached and a tavern aptly named Chilpequin Tavern. I took advantage of the gas pumps. I never minded paying those high prices when you get a little something extra. Here, it was a statue of Bigfoot carved from a single tree trunk standing beside the side of the road. I recalled that this was Bigfoot country.

You’ve heard of them, haven’t you? The Abominable Snowman, Sasquatch, Yeti. It’s one of the things that make these mountains interesting. I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly disbelieve in Bigfoot. The forests up here are millions of square acres and nobody could have seen everything. Stranger things have been found. I recall they found a prehistoric fish a few years back. The scientists didn’t think they existed either, until some fisherman pulled one up on a line.

After the fill up, I meandered on over to the tavern. It was dark and cool like taverns tend to be. Nobody was in the place except the bartender wiping glasses behind the bar. He was one big fella, I’ll tell you. His shoulders had to be three feet wide, at least.

I perched on a bar stool directly in front of the big guy.

“What’ll ya have, ma’am?” he asked politely, but in a voice that commanded respect.

“Beer. Whatever you have on tap,” I answered just as politely.

“Bud okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

He poured a tall glass and set it neatly on a little coaster in front of me. I pulled out a five and laid it on the bar. He didn’t touch it just in case I wanted more than one.

“So, what’s happening up here in Chilpequin? I heard that this is Bigfoot country” I said to make conversation.

He let out a deep chuckle and said “Ah, you don’t believe those fairy tales, do ya?.”

“I suppose not, but it’s pretty interesting stuff.” I sat in silence while he continued the unnecessary polishing of glasses.

“Hey,” I added, “there’s even that statue out front of the store.”

“Oh, that’s just tourist stuff,” he said gruffly

I decided to bait him about it. Just for fun, you understand.

“Yep, I heard the government was covering it up. Like that Area 51 down in New Mexico I’ll bet a lot of folks have actually seen Bigfoot.”

“It’s just a story!” he exclaimed, a little more vehement than I thought necessary.

He leaned over the bar and looked both ways to make sure nobody was listening, although the bar was empty. Then, he said real quiet like, “I know the facts.”

“You do? Well, what are these facts?” I responded, hoping this would be good.

He stood up straight and I tilted my head upwards to keep contact with his eyes. Near seven feet tall, no, make that eight.

“The Sasquatch, which is the correct name by the way, really exist. They don’t want people to know they’re up there. And, that’s the truth.”

He polished the glass some more and looked a bit introspective, maybe even sad.

“If the scientist guys caught up with one, well, it wouldn’t be very pleasant.”

“I take it you’ve seen them?” I asked.

He leaned toward me again until his big nose was no more than three inches from mine.

“I’ve more than seen ‘em.”

“What? Do they live in the back of the store or something? Look, I wasn’t born yesterday,” I said a little testily. After all, I was just playing him, but he seemed way too serious to me.

“Well, of course they don’t live in the back of the store,” he said as if he were talking to a kid.

“They live way up there,” he said, jerking his thumb behind him. I looked, but only saw the array of liquor bottles behind the bar.

“Old growth forest,” he continued as if that explained everything.

“So what? The Forest Service keeps selling off the old growth. The big trees aren’t protected everywhere. Logging rigs go up and down this road, now don’t they?” I come from a logging family, so I know a little bit about this stuff.

“That’s true, but there are places even the loggers can’t get to. Hillsides so steep and undergrowth so thick that mountain goats wouldn’t go near them. That’s where they live,” he said with finality.

“Well, that’s just bull!” I couldn’t help exclaiming.

I was beginning to suspect he was a few cards short of a deck. He didn’t seem to have much more to say. I think I’d actually hurt his feelings.

“Look,” I said, getting a little huffy, “I said in the first place that I thought Bigfoot might exist and you were the one who said that was all tourist crap.”

He glared at me for a moment. Then, he realized either what I said was true or he wasn’t being a very good bartender.

“Yep,” he said with a crooked grin, “I sure did say that. Sorry, ma’am. I don’t mean to make you mad.”

Still, I was getting the impression that his smile was a little too forced. I was starting to think, just a little, that he was serious. He really did believe in Bigfoot and he really did believe they lived up in these woods.

He looked at me with an intensity that made me squirm a little. Then, he said something that took me completely by surprise.

“I am one.”

*** Continued tomorrow

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