Summary: Like any legend, it’s something that no one believes unless they’re one of the lucky ones who experienced it too. But for Joe, the problem is how to explain the unexplainable to others without becoming the subject of ridicule.
Word Count: 1955
The Sasquatch Fraternity
My head hurts. The headache I have is only going to get worse. I like to think of myself as an intelligent man, a logical man. Maybe I’m not as smart as Adam or I don’t have the experience of my father, but I’m not stupid. I know things. Therefore, I know I could not have seen what I thought I saw. I mean, I did see it, and that backdrop of gray clouds moving away after the rain outlined it clearly. I had to stop and admire it even as I could hardly believe what I was seeing. When I saw it, or him, or whatever that thing was, I was transfixed and had to follow it to see if my eyes could deceive me so much. I know now exactly how Hoss felt when he saw those little green men. Unlike Hoss, I can’t go home with a fantastic tale like he did with the little green men. I remember what happened when he told his story. I made fun of him. Adam really made fun of him and even made him mad. Mostly I laughed and even Pa couldn’t keep from breaking out in chuckles. I can only imagine what they would do if I tell a story like this. Maybe I am too proud, but the humiliation would be too much for me. However, what do I say when they ask what took so long for me to get home from completing a simple errand?
I can’t lie. They would know I was lying if I tried that because it would sound hollow, and my father especially is good at hearing that. There has to be a logical explanation for what happened. That’s what I need, but at the moment, I can’t think of one. The truth may be all that I have left.
It’s crazy though. How could I possibly tell them I saw a creature that looked like a man but was taller than any man and covered in hair like a monkey and ran as fast as an antelope and had arms that helped propel him along? It’s the truth, but if I said that and there was a smirk or a chuckle, I know I would likely lose my temper because this has me so rattled. That would really make me look like a rational man, now wouldn’t it? But if Adam made just one of those snarky comments he likes to make that rile me so, I’d bust him one right in the kisser.
Oh, they’re going to enjoy this so much because I’m completely at my wit’s end with no plan on how to handle this. I know I’m going to be miserable, no matter what I do. I’m already miserable.
Now that may be my plan. I do have a headache. It wouldn’t take much to simply say that I was delayed and didn’t come back because of my head. Now that’s close enough to the truth. I am omitting that the thoughts in my head are what are delaying me, but I do have a headache. I could go to my room then and crawl into my bed to get some rest. I doubt I’ll get any sleep. If I did, I would only dream about that thing anyway.
You might find this quite interesting. I know I did. When I got home all prepared to use my excuse, I didn’t need it. There was a guest at the house, a friend from the mountains who traps and hunts, and he brings us a nice pelt or two now and then for the right to do his trade up in our mountain property. We don’t mind as he takes care of the predators who might cause a problem, and I’m not thinking of those in the animal kingdom. No, he was holding court with his tall tales with Hoss completely enthralled. Then he nearly made me fall off my chair when I settled in to listen too. He began to talk about a hairy creature about eight feet tall who ran like an antelope with arms like a monkey he had seen in a circus. He said it was a shy creature and kept to itself but warned never to get too close because it was vicious when challenged. He said no man ever came away from a close encounter alive, and the caves occupied by Sasquatch were filled with human bones of those who had dared to challenge their power. That’s what he called it: Sasquatch. He said there was a whole race of them occupying the mountains. I laughed right along with Hoss who roared with laughter at being entertained so. Adam had that look like the man was crazy. But the trapper looked at me and I think he knew. My father regarded me peculiarly too as I wasn’t laughing like he probably thought I should be. I had to use my excuse then. I told them I had a headache and would see them in the morning. As I predicted, I didn’t sleep much and with the dawn, I gave up the effort.
Downstairs, I settled into the chair by the fireplace once I got a good fire going and hoped to warm up as it seemed I still had a chill from the night. Our guest walked down the stairs a short time later. He stood and stared at me a while making me nervous until he said only a few things. He said he knew I had seen it too. He said the only way to deal with it is to tell the story as a tall tale because he knew that I had to get that story out. He said no one would believe it so tell it with gusto. He said when it’s dark at night and you’re lying in your campsite, know that they are watching, but know too that they never harm those who don’t harm them. He did mention that they don’t mind getting a gift now and then. He said they will show themselves to those they think could be trusted at least a little. It was a test of sorts. I had joined a fraternity of sorts though I had not had a choice in the matter. I was too shocked then to ask what kind of gifts they liked. Then he went to get some coffee from Hop Sing and never said another word of it to me.
It have to tell you it works. It’s a darn good way to get a free drink or two too. I went to the Bucket of Blood with my brothers on Saturday night and I told that story. Hoss was so impressed that he said it sounded even better than when our guest told it. He liked it that I made it sound like it happened to me and described Sasquatch on the Ponderosa. Adam said I ought to tell another story as he didn’t know I had improved so much in my storytelling. That started some clamor for another story from those who had enjoyed the Sasquatch tale, and a drink was placed in front of me as an enticement. I did manage to come up with another tall tale about mermaids in the lake and the crowd roared their hearty approval especially when I described the mermaids above the waist. That tale earned me another drink. I told one more and an even longer tall tale about a powerful lumberjack and his big ox. It wasn’t as popular as the other two had been so interest waned. I was happy though. As our guest had said. It felt good to tell that story and get it out. I felt good with two drinks in me as well. I didn’t even hardly think about the eyes that were on us as we rode home. I remembered that they wouldn’t hurt us if we didn’t hurt them.
Of course, I had taken a ride when I had a little free time and left a small offering at the spot I had first seen one. I wasn’t sure what to leave but thought a basket with a ham, a jug of honey, and a loaf of bread might be appreciated. The next morning when I went to check, I found a few flowers in the basket. I’d guessed correctly. Every now and then, I leave a little something in that area. I get flowers when I leave things they like, and if they don’t like it, it’s still there when I get back. We have that little way of communicating. I like to think now that when they’re watching me, they think of me as a friend or at least not as an enemy nor a threat. I remember what was said about the caves where they live.
It wasn’t a one-way relationship either. I found that out after I helped them with some liniment. I rode home early one Saturday night when things didn’t go well for me in town and saw one of the smaller ones limping away into the brush. The next day when I went to church services with my family, I packed some liniment in my saddle bags and made the usual excuse as to why I needed to stop and take a moment in the bushes. I left the liniment. It was horse liniment, but considering how big, hairy, and muscled they were, I kinda thought it might help. They would let me know if it was a bad idea. Later, I realized they wouldn’t know whether to drink it or rub it on a sore leg.
One way or another, they liked it. A few days later, the empty bottle stood waiting for me in the usual place. I brought another bottle for them. Every now and then, there would be an empty bottle there letting me know they were ready for a new one. It wasn’t often, but they must have found the liniment helpful.
It made us even closer in a way though, I guess. We had some rustlers working our ranch now and then. None of us liked it, but Adam got his back up about it and decided to find them. He worked at it, and finally, he must have run into them. I say that because he got the bad end of that meeting. He was knocked from his horse by a shot and hit his head. By rights, they could have killed him. Funny thing though. Somehow, out of it as he was, he was back on his horse and nearly back at the house when he came to. We headed out to where he said they shot at him. All we found were signs of a fight and the three horses they must have been riding. There was no sign of those three men. Hoss said they must have heard us coming and run off. Later though, Adam said he never even saw them much less fought with them.
For me, I think there’s probably a few more bones up in those caves. I brought some very nice treats out to the spot that week letting them know how grateful I was to have my brother home alive. Three pistol belts were there when I came back.
It’s a real good set of friends I got even if we never talk or never meet up face-to-face. Frankly, I’d be a little worried being real close to them. Things the way they are is fine with me. When that old trapper comes for another visit, we’re going to have a few things to discuss.
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