Firearms, Fur & Boyhood Bliss by Zach Lisabeth

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Firearms, Fur & Boyhood Bliss by Zach Lisabeth
Illustration by Sue Babcock

What the hell is that in your hand, son? A thermal imaging camera? You run around with that high-tech hocus pocus out in my woods and y’all are likely to wind up hogtied ass up with that fancy scope sticking out your corn hole. Happens every season, but you little peckerwoods just keep on coming. Guess it’s true what they say. You can’t fix stupid.

Now hold on there, fellas. Didn’t mean no disrespect. I want to see you get what you came for—wouldn’t be here all civilized-like if I didn’t. I put my fancy britches on for this, goddammit. But you two got to understand something—and this really is key: you got your strategy on ass backwards. There’s some monsters you just don’t go looking for. Some monsters prefer to come looking for you. Lucky thing is: I just happen to know the only fella in this state actually bagged him one o’ what y’all came out here for.

Don’t need to know neither of your birth names. Seen enough of you college types come through this bar, y’all start to blend together. So I’m going to call you Bucky and you Garth and that fat guinea giving us the stink eye from the bar—I’m going to call him Sal. You can tell a lot about a man from his name, and those three will serve you better than whatever nonsense your mammies saddled you with. My daddy never gave me much of nothing, but at least he saw fit to arm me with a man’s name. It’s kept me safe out here longer than I reckon you shit stains have been breathing. So sit your asses down, Bucky and Garth, and holler at your boy Sal to order us a round of Old Crow. My name’s Delmont Cattrap Carson and you two sons of bitches are pleased to make my acquaintance.

#

Carson’s my daddy’s name. Reckon he had another one some way back, but all anyone at the fort ever called him was Cap’n Carson. Delmont’s my granddaddy on my mammy’s side. Never knew the old fella, but that’s probably for the best. I was a mean little shit back in the day, and I don’t reckon I’d have seen the point in two Delmonts running around Fort Malheur.

I grew up in the great American tradition of George Washington, Paul Revere, John Birch and Gordon Kahl. You boys remember the Sons of Liberty? Posse Comitatus? We were the original—the First Company of the Eastern Oregon Militia. Back before Ruby Ridge took all the fun outta militia life, we used to run this state.

Strange way to grow up, militia life. Lots of folks around most of the time, but none of them feel quite like kin. Only things we ever had to read was the Bible of Jesus Christ and the Second Amendment to The United States Constitution: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Well regulated’s a matter for interpretation, but boy oh mighty did we bear arms. By my counting, which was never any good, we had damn near a thousand modified traditional rifles—AR-15s with a little extra horsepower and extended clips. What you city folk might call “semi-automatics.” We stockpiled 273 grenades, 600 pounds of C4, over a hundred suits of body armor and enough AK-47s to put every man, woman and child at Fort Malheur away in the federal pen ‘til roosters started crowing at the moon. Rifles and ammunition were more common than toilet paper around the fort, and we all had the bullet holes and chapped asses to prove it.

When I was ten years old I waddled off into the woods, playing a game of catch the Injun with my brother Billy Jo. He wasn’t my blood brother, mind. Just another broken rubber around my age wasting away up at the fort. You fellas ever play catch the Injun? Stupid game. One boy’s got to take off his shoes and hide somewhere outside the fort. The other boy counts as high as he can and goes out hunting.

You ever notice how dim folk tend to be real good at just one thing? Billy Jo couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel, but he could track a deer through a rainstorm with one eye swollen shut. In order to get one over on the tricky little prick, I decided to go run up a tree in the restricted zone on the east side of the fort.

I ain’t never been too precise about rules; not then, not now. I ran out past the trees marked with big red exes and shimmied up one beast of a pine. Sure enough, that damn fool Billy Jo was too chicken or too stupid to come looking. I waited until the sun went down, and skulked back toward the fort, grinning ear to ear. That there shit-eating grin only lasted long enough for me to figure out why the restricted zone was restricted. Stomping around all cocky like, I put my damn boot some place it weren’t supposed to go. Bear trap bit down quicker than a cannonball. I remember the sound of iron jaws screeching to a halt against my leg bone. I was only ten years old. You’d think some of the screaming that followed would have been forgivable.

It wasn’t until the next morning that one of the trappers came around to check what he caught. He laughed at me for a couple of minutes before finally pulling back the clamp and carrying me back to the fort over his shoulder. Found out day after next he told all the other militiamen he heard me mewling like some runt kitten shunned from its mammy’s teet. Thought he caught himself a little pussycat, but he was only half right. The militiamen had a good laugh at that.

#

So that’s where my nickname came from. Cattrap. Tried to fight it for a spell, but now I just own that shit. What’s a matter, Garth? Don’t like whiskey? Where was I…

#

Wouldn’t describe anyone at Fort Malheur as neighborly exactly, but the trapper that found me was something else entirely. A real mean sum’ bitch named James Horace Grantham. Jimbo by choice. The old prick was a couple years younger than my daddy. Small fella but demon strong, all coiled up with hate instead of muscle. Smelled like leather, ball sweat and spunk. Jimbo wasn’t a native like most of the folks at the fort. He showed up late in life, a fully formed psychopath.

There’s something you boys need to understand about militiamen. The liberal media makes us all out to be a bunch of redneck race baiters with swastikas tattooed up and down our ass cheeks. Domestic terrorists, they call us. Like we’re some kind of homegrown al-kaydas. Truth is, most folks at the fort were just looking for three hots, a cot and a little paintball on the weekends. Not Jimbo, though. Jimbo was a true believer.

After drinking too much moonshine my daddy let it slip that good ol’ Jimbo celebrated the bicentennial by shooting up one of them Jew churches down in Mizzou. He’d been lamming it with various militia groups since ‘76. I reckoned I should keep clear of ol’ Jimbo after hearing that, but Fort Malheur was a damn small place. Took me forever and a day to figure out why in the hell he was setting up bear traps outside the grounds.

Everything at Fort Malheur was a fucking drill. The cap’n kept us busier than a one-legged cat trying to bury shit on a frozen pond. We woke up at oh-five-hundred every day, and by oh-five-twenty we were assembled on the lawn for PT and morning drills. We spent most of the afternoons doing chores and shooting at targets trussed up to look like U.S. marshals and other unseemly types. If you missed too often or if Cap’n Carson didn’t like the cut of your jib, you got stuck draining latrines instead of eating supper with the rest of the militiamen. Everyone learned to shoot. We were men, goddammit. The boys were men, the dogs were men—even the women were men. Once or twice a week we ran around the woods shooting paint at each other. My daddy the cap’n would give us objectives—defend the fort, repel the feds, catch the wetback in the woods. Keep in mind that Fort Malheur was 1,026 miles from Mexicali, as the crow flies. The only wetbacks in our woods were most likely Canadian, though no one had a mind to tell the old man that. He had a head for war games, my daddy did. Took his shooting serious as his bible.

Every couple of months he cooked up something real nasty to harden up the young’uns. The night before my sixteenth birthday Cap’n Carson woke up me and Billy Jo in the middle of the night and drove us out into the woods. He dropped us off just outside of no place in particular and gave us our marching orders. We were supposed to “capture” a fake installation that Jimbo set up out there in the woods. Daddy left us lying there, blindfolded, with nothing more’n’a compass, a map, our rifles and about six hours worth of water and food.

“When you hear us pull away you can take your blindfolds off,” my daddy told us. “Jimbo’s waiting for you at the installation with the truck. Paint the target before he paints you and you get yourselves a ride home. Cock it up and you’re walking.”

Billy Jo and me spent the first three hours out there squabbling over who should get to carry the map and who should carry the compass. Took us another three to realize it was probably best if one person carried both. Billy Jo might have been one hell of a tracker, but he couldn’t read maps any better than he could read writing. By the time our rations ran dry, I just about had my bearings. We were way off course. Just shy of ten miles opposite the direction we were supposed to be. As the sun sank over the western horizon like a stone, Billy Jo stopped tracking, turned to look at me and said: “We’re fucked.”

I didn’t doubt that we were, but I couldn’t stand the thought I might actually lose to my salty old man. The fact that Jimbo was involved only made the situation more tender.

“Just a little farther. We almost back where we started,” I told him. “If we can just find our way back to the country road—“

“Eat a dick, Cattrap. How long you think Jimbo’s really going to wait for us out there?”

Not very. More than likely he was just about packed up and heading back to Fort Malheur laughing his ass off at our incompetence. I knew it well as Billy Jo did, but that idiot was getting uppity with me so I didn’t have much of a mind for agreeance.

“Look here.” I jammed my finger at the crumpled map. “If we cut across this gorge we can shave at least two hours off the trek.”

Billy Jo went along with it, but not without some bellyaching. Truth is, I don’t think he wanted to be left alone in them woods overnight. And we were definitely looking at a stay overnight.

Our condition didn’t improve much after I took over. First half of the gorge looked easy enough to cross, but by the time we hit the bottom and went about scrambling our way up the other side we hit a wall of hard granite.

“Aw, fuck you, Cattrap.” Billy Jo was practically crying. “We ain’t never going to climb up this here wall. If we had gone on home when I said so, we’d be halfway back by now.”

I grabbed Billy Jo around the throat and smacked him back to his senses. The idiot was right, of course. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But if I let him go on thinking he was right, then the walk back would be unbearable. I reminded him that old Cap’n Carson had a poor taste for failure at these war games, and that we’d be better off staying in these woods for the rest of our lives than scuttling back to Fort Malheur with nothing but our dicks in our hands. We decided to build a pair of lean-tos back up top the gorge and stay the night. First thing next morning we’d find our way over to Jimbo’s installation and paint that target whether he was waiting there or not.

“I’m hungry,” Billy Jo moaned.

“You got a rifle, numb nuts. Go shoot something.”

I heard Billy Jo mumbling under his breath as he stalked off to do as he was told. Made it halfway back up the gorge before I heard him howling like he seen a ghost.

“Cattrap! Cattrap!” Heard something in his voice right then made me think this might just be more than a little bellyaching. “Cattrap!” he kept hollering.

“Keep yer damn voice down, Billy,” I told him, already shimmying back down that gorge.

Billy Jo hadn’t wandered all that far. Found himself a right unnatural scene on the north end of the gorge: five dead deer lying around in a ring like someone put them there, each one with its belly cracked open and its entrails pulled out. Billy Jo just stood there stammering and pointing at all the empty carcasses. All the color had gone out of his inbred face. Couldn’t really blame the boy. Might have shit my own britches if I didn’t have his dumb ass to worry about.

I grabbed Billy by the collar of his vest and told him we needed to get outta there, but his feet seemed stuck to the ground as if they was growing roots.

“I never seen a thing like this, Cattrap,” he said.

I slapped that boy right across his slackjawed face. “There’s lotsa things you never seen, ya damn fool. C’mon. Them deer ain’t start stinking yet. Probably fresh. Whoever did this might still be poking around.”

“You think people did this?”

Of course people did this, I remember thinking. What the hell else has the wherewithal to gut the entrails from a deer and then drag the body around? Work looked too precise for a goddamn grizzly. There were other folks in them Oregon woods besides militia. Some families been out there fucking their cousins so long they hardly resembled normal folk no more. Figured it had to be one of them what did those deer, but I was just a shit-for-brains militia brat.

“Look at that!” Billy Jo jabbed a finger at the ground in front of us, arm trembling like a dog in a thunderstorm.

I walked right up to where he was pointing and had myself a better look.

Footprints. Tracks like I never seen before—three feet long and one foot wide at the ball. Shaped like a man’s but with only four toes.

#

You boys know what I’m talking about, right? I don’t got to spell it out for ya. Some things are better left to the implication. If y’all want to take a piss break or something, now’s as good a time as any. Next part’s better told without interruption.

#

This probably goes without saying, but Billy Jo and me didn’t end up staying the night. We marched straight through until dawn, navigating by the stars. Didn’t reach Fort Malheur until just after sunrise the next day, our bellies aching with hunger and feet so swollen from dehydration we could barely get our boots off. We went straight to my daddy’s quarters where he was getting dressed for the morning drills. Cap’n Carson had three sets of Vietnam-era fatigues copped from some army surplus store in Baker City. He wore each set twice a week before sending them all to get washed on the Lord’s Day. When we turned up in his room, he didn’t even acknowledge us. Tried telling him about the tracks and the mutilations, but he figured we were just weaving tall tales to cover up our failings. I never blamed him for not believing in me. Lord knows I’d lied to the old man before, just so happens that this time I wasn’t.

Billy Jo and me got out of drills that morning. The old man took us out back and whipped the piss out of us for insubordination. Five lashes for botching the drill, another five for lying about it and ten for coming up with some fuckwit tale to explain away our incompetence. I’d been beat plenty of times before, mind, but this time the old man put some stank on it. He kept the belt buckle on all the way through just to make a point. Billy Jo passed out nine lashes in, and I was grateful for it because all his carrying on made it that much worse. I still got the scars to show, though you can’t see them so good no more.

Took me a week and a half in the infirmary to recover. I spent the whole time lying face down on an army cot, reading the same damn G.I. Joe comic over and over. Only had one visitor. Jimbo came to see me day after the beating.

“You boys done fucked up good this time around,” said Jimbo.

I told him to fuck off.

Jimbo’s laugh was like a chainsaw, all sharp and motor ragged. Likely it’d kill you if you got too close. “Would have been bad enough you sorry excuses for militia couldn’t catch me at the installation. Had to go making it worse on yourselves by lying to Cap’n Carson.”

“Wasn’t no lie.”

Jimbo leaned up onto me. Stuck his elbow in my bleeding back. Got so close I could almost taste his sour breath. “You want to tell me what it is you think you saw out there, Cattrap?”

“I said fuck off.”

Jimbo leaned in and I could feel my mammy’s stitches starting to tear. “Try again, boy.”

“Dead deer.” The fire in my back almost choked the words outta me.

“What else?” asked Jimbo.

“Tracks,” I managed. “Footprints. Feet like a man’s got, but with only four toes. Too big to belong to any sum’ bitch I ever seen.”

Jimbo lifted his elbow up. He laughed again and patted me on the ass. “Rest up a bit, Cattrap. Soon as those war wounds close up, you and me are going hunting.”

Jimbo and me never did get around to that hunting trip. Soon as I was ambulatory, the monster that made them tracks out in the woods came poking around Fort Malheur. The beast came at dusk. I reckon now she must’ve followed Billy Jo’s and my scent all the way back to the fort. Mammy was changing my bandages when we heard the gunshots followed by a whole lot of screaming. Everybody ran toward the commotion. Even the sight of the mutilated deer didn’t prepare me for what we found. The beast had taken one of our sentries—and it must’ve happened fast. Both of his arms were plucked clean from their sockets like chicken feathers. Whatever got to him carved up his chest so bad it looked like rhubarb pie the dogs got at. I still see it when I close my eyes. Dead bodies are like pussy—you don’t ever forget your first one.

After we buried our man, couple of boys got liquored up and reckoned they’d go out and hunt down the bear that violated our territory. Didn’t need much cajoling. You get enough assholes running around playing army, sooner or later they expect to shoot something for real. Ten went out and none came back. Never did find their bodies. Unfortunately, Jimbo wasn’t with them.

Didn’t seem straight to me. Old Jimbo Grantham’s blood ran hotter than a bride’s breath in June and he had a real hard-on for shooting things. Seemed a bit unnatural he wasn’t the first one out the gate. Back then I had more balls than brains, so I cornered Jimbo and asked him why he didn’t join the other men on the hunt.

He looked me dead in the eyes and said: “Word of advice, Cattrap. Never go hunting something in these woods unless you know exactly what it is you’re hunting.”

Turns out Jimbo didn’t think it was a grizzly did our boys, neither.

#

Whiskey’s out, and I reckon it’s my round. Bucky, why don’t you shuffle on up to the bar and tell Otis to put four more on Cattrap’s tab. That’s a good boy. And I only had to ask once. You fellas are learning.

#

Shit got real for the Eastern Oregon Militia in the spring of ’96. Couple of yahoos out in Jordan, Montana, declared Justus Township over their podunk municipality. Called themselves the Montana Freemen, and they made a big show of shooting at feds and issuing liens against government bureaucrats. Jimbo Grantham knew one of them boys playing at armed rebellion in Jordan—fella by the name of Leroy Schweitzer. He actually brought the case to the cap’n, saying we should head up there with a trunk full of guns and ammo. Old man wasn’t having it. Figured it wasn’t our fight, and I tended to agree. I didn’t care much one way or the other about a couple dozen hillbillies two states over. All I could think about was the beast. This nonsense with the Freemen was a distraction.

You fellas have to understand—this was 1996. Waco was still fresh in everybody’s mind. Maybe a little too fresh. The way folks around Fort Malheur acted, you’d have thought the feds burned those Branch Davidian boys close enough for us to smell the barbecue. Militia culture around that time was like an open jug of moonshine. All’s it took was one careless spark, and the Freemen standoff was more like a blowtorch. After a couple weeks of my daddy stonewalling Jimbo, Fort Malheur wound up divided against itself.

Jimbo’s mutinous rhetoric kept Cap’n Carson busy enough that me and Billy Jo found time to head out into the woods on our lonesome, looking for that bigfooted beast. Every once in a while Billy’d pick up some trail, but we never did get as close as we were on the day with the mutilated deer.

One morning while we were out checking for footprints, Jimbo gathered up a posse of nine or ten murderous ingrates and staged himself a coups. Billy Jo and me missed most of the good fighting. By the time we got back from stalking the beast the deed had already been done. First hint was the smell of gunpowder and blood. Then we heard the clack-clack-clack of AKs and we knew something nasty was afoot.

It’ll be a dark and distant day when I forget the sight of my daddy’s empty, bloodshot eyes staring up at me over his throttled neck. He’d been chewing when Jimbo’s posse got to him. A puddle of moist tobacco lolled out his slack mouth, still clinging to the sides of his black and bloated tongue. Daddy loved his damn chaw. Packed his lip full to bursting with homegrown shit that’d make that tin of Skoal in Bucky’s pocket taste like Bazooka Joe. One pinch of my daddy’s chaw and we’d have to tie your pant legs shut so you wouldn’t go soiling the rug.

I suppose Jimbo figured it wouldn’t serve no good end keeping me around. Worried I might have a mind to seek revenge for daddy’s killing. But shooting me up in cold blood presented its own set of complications. Some folks around the fort reckoned my daddy deserved what he got. You don’t stay in power all those years without making enemies. But I still had friends in the militia. Parading my corpse around Fort Malheur might have left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Jimbo wasn’t stupid. That’s what made him so dangerous. He knew that if you start piling up corpses on your first day in office, folks get to wondering whether they’ll be next.

I was still just a kid. Couldn’t stop him tossing that bag over my head and tying my wrists to my ankles like a hog fit for slaughter. He let me tire myself out struggling, then put that uncanny strength of his to work. He carried me out of the fort over his shoulder and tossed me into the back of the militia truck. I cracked my head on the metal wheel well in the bed and blacked out.

By the time I came to, we were miles down a country road that don’t exist on any maps. I remember the truck jerking to a halt and my head slamming up against the cab. Jimbo’s footsteps crunched like murder. He pulled me outta the truck bed by the ankles and ripped that bag right off my head.

I squinted up at him, standing with his back to the moonlight. He had one of them AKs from the armory in his hands. Probably should have pleaded with him. It’s what any sane man would have done, but I was young, dumb and full of come those days. If Jimbo wanted to do me dirty right there in the woods, then I was going to go down cussing and kicking.

“You ungrateful, pig-fucking redneck.” I spat a Jimbo’s feet. “My daddy took you in while you were lamming it. He treated you like kin.”

Jimbo just laughed and laughed. He flipped his rifle around and smacked me with the butt of it. My eyes spun around and I rolled over, still hogtied ankles to wrists.

“Your daddy was a weak sum’ bitch,” Jimbo said. “Goddamned traitor to the cause.” He knelt down next to me and grabbed me by the hair. “Playing paintball’s all well and good during times of peace, but when the war starts up all good soldiers got to answer the call.”

He kicked me in the stomach and I heard two of my ribs break. My mouth was so full of blood I couldn’t even cry out.

“Don’t worry, Cattrap,” he told me. “With your daddy I needed to make a point, but I’m going to do you quick.”

He pressed the gun barrel to the back my head and I felt my bladder release. The warmth spread up from my crotch to cover the rest of my broken body. Just what happened next still ain’t entirely clear. I heard something come outta the woods, but all curled up down on the ground I only got a good look at its feet—its massive, furry feet. At first I thought I was seeing things, but whatever it was, Jimbo must have a seen it, too. He got real spooked—lifted up his rifle and popped half a clip off into the trees. Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. Ugly sum’ bitch always was a terrible shot. I only heard the rest. Buncha crying and screaming amidst a few feminine growls. The beast tore Jimbo apart one limb at a time, each one coming off with the same juicy snap. Before too long, the screaming stopped dead and the growling settled to a low purr. Too weak to slither away, I was certain that I’d be next. Like a baby ripped from the tit, I started weeping right there in the mud.

The beast walked over and lifted me up in her arms. I knew it was a “her” because she smelled like a lady. Her fur was so soft, like it’d been cared for, you know? I remember weeping into those soft, furry arms, waiting for the inevitable. Sasquatch’s long fingers were like a bushel of brown bananas, warm, thick and sweet. She placed her hand on my head and I assumed she was fixing to twist it right off. I’ll be damned if she didn’t start stroking my hair all tender like, as if she wanted me to know that everything was going to be okay. She cooed at me like a mother bear doting on her cubs until my breathing stilled, then she carried me up on back to her cave.

Sasquatch’s been misrepresented by them media types and Hollywood Jews. Makes me angry to think about. Truth is: you’d be pressed to find a more gentle creature. She took me into her cave and laid me down on a bed of moss and vines. In the early days it was touch and go. Jimbo had done a real number on me, and my ribs just weren’t healing right. Sasquatch went off into the woods every morning to collect herbs for my medicinal tea. She gathered roots and flowers from parts of the forest normal folk ain’t never seen. Little by little, she nursed me back to health. She even watched over me as I slept, stroking my head through the fevers. When I finally had strength enough to stand up and walk out that cave, I could have sworn she started tearing up. That kinda tenderness does something to a man—softens up his soul and sands off all the jagged edges.

After a long month of recovery, I finally had enough vigor to take Sasquatch in my arms and make love to her like the world was about to end. She opened her body up to me and it was an amusement park of carnal delight. We did things together—primal things handed straight down from God himself. And when we came together, it felt like the whole forest shared in our ecstasy. Didn’t sleep a wink the next three nights in a row. Think they call that the honeymoon phase.

Couple of weeks later the first little furs started growing in around my chest and back.

#

Just where the hell you think you’re going, son? Man buys you a round, etiquette dictates you sit the fuck down and listen until he’s done speaking. Common sense dictates you don’t breach etiquette around a man with more automatic weapons in his trunk than gnats on a deer hide.

That’s what I thought.

#

Sasquatch and me didn’t communicate like normal folk—but we didn’t need to, neither. Her body told me everything I needed to know. You’re probably surprised to learn that Bigfoots are monogamous creatures—loyal almost to a fault. Turns out, my baby got her first whiff of me back when I was sixteen, and just couldn’t get me out of her head. She followed my musk all the way back to Fort Malheur, but any time she got too close some yahoo with an assault rifle started taking pot shots at her. Sasquatch didn’t like killing folk. Sasquatch was a creature of love.

She and me packed a lifetime of marital bliss into one beautiful summer. I was seventeen and Sasquatch made a man outta me in ways the militia never could. We hunted deer together and made sausage from their entrails. We made love every night—sometimes in the cave, more often under the light of the moon. It’s a good feeling, knowing you took advantage of every moment. I suppose we must’ve known our time together might get cut short.

Damn thing about militia life is you can never really get away. What me and Sasquatch had was more of an amorous hiatus. It all went wrong when I was out picking wild mushrooms one evening to add something extra to our venison stew. Sasquatch stalked off alone to rustle us up a couple of deer. She didn’t need me, really. She was more than capable. Only ever brought me along because we couldn’t stand to be apart. I was in the middle of parsing death caps from white buttons when I heard the gunshot. AR-15. I’ll never forget that sound. I ran toward it, but I knew in my heart that it was already too late.

I found Sasquatch lying in a pool of her own blood, single bullet hole between her beautiful brown eyes. Standing at the other end of the hunting trail was Billy fucking Jo—all the way from Fort Malheur. Turns out he never did stop tracking that beast we used to be so afraid of.

Swallowing back my tears, I leaned next to Sasquatch and kissed the golden brown fur around her lifeless cheek. “I’m so sorry, baby,” I told her. Rage beginning to push out the grief, I closed my baby’s eyes and rounded on Billy Jo.

“You killed her,” I told him, hardly believing myself that she was really gone.

I suppose the tears in my eyes were too much for poor, simple Billy Jo to comprehend. He flapped his mouth at me wordlessly.

“You fucking killed her!” I stomped right up to Billy Jo and ripped that AR-15 from his hillbilly hands.

“Cattrap? It is you!” Damn fool finally found his voice. “We thought you were dead.”

“Not dead. Just happy for once.” Shaking with the rage of lost love, I pointed that rifle at Billy boy’s chest.

Billy Jo’s glassy eyes bugged out. “What in the hell you think you’re—“

Bang!

God help me, I put him down like a rabid dog.

#

You fellas ever pound too many of them wine coolers at one of your prissy college parties and wind up sheathing it in some busy piece of tail? Garth over here knows what I’m talking about. All seems well and good until you start pissing razor wire about two weeks after. Sasquatchism’s got more than a few things in common with the clap. Unfortunately, all the penicillin in the world won’t make a lick difference once you’ve lain with a Bigfoot. The change has been slow, but I expect it’ll be no more than a few more years until I leave this bar for the last time and go off to live out my days in the woods. No clue how long a Sasquatch is supposed to live if he don’t come face to face with a modified AR-15. Probably should have asked my baby when I had the chance. Should have asked her a lot of things.

I still got all my scars from the militia days, but the fur’s grown so thick around my trunk it’s almost impossible to pick them out. Every six months these clodhoppers grow so big, my boots start busting from the toe.

I buried my baby where no peckerwood Bigfoot hunters like you fellas will ever find her. Still wander out there once a year to put wildflowers on her grave. Suppose we might have made a life together if Billy Jo hadn’t been so freakish good at tracking. Life’s a country road filled with potholes and wrong turns. You can try to chart a course, but the best any of us can hope for is that we don’t end up somewhere worse than where we started.

Don’t look at me like that, goddammit. Just got something in my eye.

Truth is: I’m lonely, fellas. Sasquatch or human, some people weren’t meant to be alone. So what do you say, boys? Sure sounds like old Cattrap just saved you a trip out into them woods. Do a fuzzy widower a solid and stick around for one more drink.

 

BIO: Zach Lisabeth is a Los Angeles-based speculative fiction author and Weirdo. He was born on Long Island and took a circuitous route west by way of Brooklyn, NY, Burlington, VT and Chicago, IL. He is a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop at UCSD, an experience he credits with exacerbating his Weirdness. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Freeze Frame Fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Gaia: Shadow & Breath vol. 2 (Pantheon Press), Burningword Literary Journal and the anthology RealLies (The Zharmae Publishing Press). Zach currently lives in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA with his partner Liz and zero pets. For regular updates, follow him on Twitter @zachlisabeth and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7372482.Zach_Lisabeth) or come visit his official site: zachlisabeth.com