The Sasquatch Love Serenade

By T. Fox Dunham

o Barney got me into this Bigfoot Hunting club because I had a bad set of voice cords and could sing out a gargled howl, like my throat was a church organ with hamsters trapped in the pipes.

“Hell with your Sasquatch,” I tell Barney. “You’re looking up the wrong chimney, marching into the hills at night, making your love calls. Let me give you my ex-wife’s address. Save you some time.”

He dropped the shot glass on the oak bar, chipping the lacquer.

“You mean my new wife?”

I’d forgotten briefly that he’d married her after our divorce.

“Yes! So what’s the point of commuting on your Bigfoot hunts? Just work from home.”

He poured me a finger of Jim Beam. I raised it to the tip of his flagpole nose and said:

“Blessings on you, your family, and your Bigfoot.”

I downed the drink.

“You can do the best Sasquatch call I’ve ever had the good fortune of hearing,” he said. “You have a real gift.”

On Tuesday night, we gathered at the Smoky Sailor Bar to discuss the state of the housing market. I got super tight on Sea Breezes and crooned Hank Williams. It sounded like sweet whiskey in my head. The bartender’s hound joined in the howling and gnashing of teeth, the qualities of my unique vocal style.

“None of my team of paranormal investigators can do it right. Sasquatch is laughing at us. Gentle wood ape—my Aunt Fanny’s hemorrhoids! He’s taunting us. We’ve had reports that the shadow government has been capturing Sasquatch and teaching them English. I can feel them out in the woods near our camp, listening in, screeching with laughter.”

Barney clenched his hands together till the blood drained.

“Sounds like a scene I want to keep clear of. Shadow government. Aunt Fanny’s hemorrhoids and all. I don’t need to know the secrets of the universe.”

“For science,” he said. “Do it for science. We need your voice.”

“Nope.”

“For friendship. Because you feel guilty for beating me up in high school.”

I smirked. That always made me smile.

“I’ll pay your bar tab,” Barney said.

“When do we meet?”

*  *  *

            So I rode my bicycle up to Bowman’s Hill. This was a Sasquatch Mecca to paranormal investigators. Barney instructed me to dress warmly, bring marshmallows for toasting, and grab a lead pipe. Apparently, they’ve had to drive off other paranormal investigation groups for the spot. Just a month ago, a member from each side ended up in Saint Mary’s Hospital.

He paid half the tab that night and promised the other half after I serenaded the gentle wood ape with my melted gold Irish crooning. The campfire in the pit glowed a diluted crimson, reminding me of a woman’s heart after she’d given up on ever really being loved.

“This is Scout,” he said, pointing to an emaciated girl with braces. Tricksy. Pete. And that large one in the back with the video camera, Blackout Joe.”

They waved.

“Let’s get a move on, people,” Barney said. “We’re moving up the hill.”

They gathered their equipment. Scout had two dowsing rods she held in front of her as she walked. Blackout checked his camera, tapes, hoisted it on his meaty shoulder.

“I need a little something to lubricate my voice chords,” I said.

Barney sighed and gave me that look, that You-are-a-disgrace-to-the-field-of-paranormal-science-and-you-smell-funny-too glance. You have to know a fellow since grade school to know that exact look. He took out a bottle of Jack Daniels and handed it over. I rubbed my fingers down the glabrous surface. I downed a mouthful. Purely medicinal, to get my throat ready. I wanted to be of value to paranormal science.

So we marched up the hill with Blackout at the back, filming us with an infrared he borrowed from the Media Department of Bucks Community College.

“Tonight has that potential, that energy,” Barney whispered to his team. “We’ll see him. I’m sure of it. You all have had such faith. My band of brothers.”

“We happy few,” I said then ducked another dirty look.

I gripped the bottle, nearly cracking it. How could someone have such faith? Night after night for years, climbing this hill in the middle of winter, looking for a creature that no one could prove existed. I’d never know such faith, not in monsters or in God. I envied Barney. His team danced merrily behind him, going to their destinies or jumping off the cliff trying.

We reached the top of the hill, stood next to a sickly birch tree, its branches split by a lightning strike. Barney scanned the ebony of the night soup all around the hill and the valley. I felt a pair of eyes on me, looking through me the way a prophet sees.

“Keep your yappers zipped,” Scout said with a squeaky voice, the way metal grinds on metal when you peel back a sardine lid. “Mr. Foot understands English. They listen in on the teams then know how to stay one step ahead. We’re going to get the goods on him. We’ll blow the shadow government-Bigfoot conspiracy higher than a kite flying a kite.”

“That’s pretty high,” I said, pulling another drink from the bottle.

“Ok Mr. Bees,” Barney said to me. “Do your stuff.”

“My what?”

“You do that voodoo that you do so well.”

“Oh!”

I sucked down a draft of night air, the heavy kind like it’s floating on a bag of hammers that can float. First I had to warm up by making all sorts of jaw-harp plucking melodies and canine love songs. The rest of the team nodded, studying my technique.

“Such potential,” Scout said.

“Do it now! Mr. Bees. Bring him to us. We’ve waited. We’re monks.”

I cracked up.

“I can’t. I’m giggling like a mad man who doesn’t know why he’s giggling.”

“Damn it man! Do it! Sing out our sought beast.”

I gulped down more of the savory drink till my eyes burned. My head wobbled. I found the melody in my throat, opened my donkey’s mouth and crooned:

“Occch-hiyo-alow ahhh. Snip. Clip. Wept.”

It echoed down the hills, through the junipers, shattering the nerves of sleepy groundhogs and calling down hawks.

We stood still like statues of people standing still. We waited. We watched. Blackout’s camera hummed.

Nothing. No sign of the beast. We sighed.

“Again.”

“Occch-hiyo-alow ahhh.”

I put a spin on the last bit, hoping I hadn’t insulted the big fellow with my lack of manners, something that I missed in the translation. Forgive my social awkwardness. I’m new to Sasquatch lingo.

Still we waited, watching, listening, straining our eyes against the moonlight.

“Maybe,” Barney said. “I doubt this.”

The team shuddered.

“One more time,” Scout said. “Please. He’s a tricky one. Barney, hold on. I’ve loved you since the day we met when you spilled banana frozen yogurt down my Bob Dylan shirt.”

So I downed more of the Jacky Ds, tensed my ribs, sucked down a skyfull of wind and blew like a foghorn:

“Occch-hiyo-alow ahhh. Goggle batz. Hiyo-alow-ahh.”

Scout spoted a hunched over figure galumphing in the valley below. Sasquatch. The Big F. Was I so wrong about everything? The universe? God? Blackout blinked his eyes like hummingbird wings and lurched forward, crashing into the earth, dropping the camera.

“Occch-hiyo-alow ahhh,” I repeated.

And Bigfoot stopped, looked up at us on the hill and said:

“What the hell do you want?”

___

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA. He’s published in many international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story “The Lady Comes in the Night.” He’s a cancer survivor, which is often the subject of his stories. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time.


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