“You’re absolutely sure?” the park ranger asked.
“Yeah,” I told her with a nod. “I think we’ll be okay.”
“We have a confirmed sighting,” she insisted. “From what I’ve been told this particular Sasquatch must have already raided another campsite because he was carrying a Coleman lantern when he was last seen.”
“How did you know?” she replied. “Have you seen it?”
“But you’ve seen it?”
“You could say that.”
“I see,” she answered with a nod. “Well, then you are aware of the danger. I really think you and your group should consider packing up and staying at a hotel in town.”
“Seriously, we’ll be fine,” I assured her.
“Suit yourself,” she said as she climbed back into her official forestry service vehicle and started the engine. “But don’t say you weren’t warned.”
My wife and I waved goodbye as the Ranger drove away through the night and we continued to watch after her until the tail lights eventually disappeared. In the silence that ensued we just stared into the darkness and scanned the murky woods.
“So, do you think we should go look for him?” E K finally asked.
I started to agree with her plan, but then noticed a lightning bug that didn’t seem to be winking quite like the others; not to mention the fact that it seemed to be following a much less erratic flight plan than its cohorts. In fact, it was traveling a fairly linear course. It also glowed white as opposed to the yellow pinpoints that were obviously firefly butts. I watched it bob along in the distance as it flickered in a rapid staccato. Before long it dawned on me that I was watching a Coleman lantern moving between the trunks of the distant trees.
“That’s him right there, isn’t it?” I asked, pointing at the faraway glow.
Before my wife could answer we heard the drawn out echo of Chris’ voice as he whooped an unintelligible, yet gleefully inebriated cry. The light stopped for a moment, swung back and forth, then started bobbing again as it slowly grew in size.
“I think you’re right,” E K said. “That’s him and now he’s coming this way.”
I turned back toward the camp. Folks were relaxing following a long day of canoeing down the Current river and a fine meal cooked over an open fire. Chris’ wife Tammy, in particular, was sprawled out in a lounge chair with damp towels laying across her sunburned thighs and shoulders.
“It looks like he’s heading back toward us,” I called out to her.
She looked over her shoulder at me and said, “It’s about time, Gaaaahhhhdd-Dammit!”
I didn’t think anything odd about her reply. You see, Tammy insists that “Gaaaahhhhdd” personally damn just about everything at least once each day. Just to make sure, she reminds “her” at repeated intervals throughout. And, when it came to Chris, well, let’s just say “Gaaaahhhhdd” had a standing damning order from Tammy Jean.
The drunken yell was becoming louder in one of those bizarre, Doppler distorted sorts of ways. By the same token, the 6 foot plus, buck naked, carrot topped, Chris was looming more visible through the night as he drew closer.
“He doesn’t look like he’s going to stop,” E K announced.
They all looked up and noticed the naked freight train coming our way. E K and I stepped to either side of the path as the whooping madman shot between us. I turned just in time to see him snatch a beer from an open cooler as he barreled through the camp.
“Chris, Gaaaahhhhdd-Dammit!” Tammy screamed, not entirely unexpectedly, of course.
Mike just watched him run down the hill and along the gravel bar, a beer in one hand and the lantern in the other. As the soused-war cry faded he looked over at Carrie and said, “Yep… And there he goes.”
Sandy, on the other hand, the chronicler of our group, had her camera slung around her neck and took off at a dead sprint behind the escaping lunatic. Her husband Mark just sat in his lawn chair and said, “Ya’know, I really don’t like Swiss cheese. It smells like feet.”
Bill and Muffy missed the whole thing because they were off in their tent doing… Well… What Bill and Muffy generally did whenever they were in their tent, if you get my meaning.
E K and I wandered back into the camp and pulled our chairs up near the fire.
“How long do you think he’ll keep this up?” my wife asked.
“I dunno, Gaaaahhhhdd-dammit,” Tammy mumbled.
I cracked open a fresh beer and settled back into my seat. “Well, it’s been about two hours now… He’ll probably go until the lantern runs out of fuel or he comes within 20 feet or so of Mark’s Ford truck out there.”
“Oh, yeah…” Tammy said with a nod. “Ford truck. That’s right. Gaaaahhhhdd-dammit.”
Sometime around four in the morning we found Chris. He was sprawled in the bed of Mark’s Ford pickup just as I’d predicted, passed out and snoring so hard that the resulting shockwave caused Bill and Muffy’s tent to cave in on them – not that such seemed to have any ill effect on their activities, as evidenced by the rhythmic undulations of the nylon. But, we had other fish to fry… Or, Sasquatches to rescue, I should say, because the clearing was filled with Park Rangers carrying nets and tranquilizer guns.
In the end we managed to talk them into simply tagging Chris and letting him go.
And, that’s why ever since then we only let him drink light beer.
More to come…