Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Can't Hear You

My wife, Sarah, always edits my stories after I have them down on paper. If it weren't for her, I'm sure they'd be much more unreadable—in fact, if she edited my blog, she'd probably make me find a new word for "unreadable," saying it's kind of unreadable. Ha.
Anyway, I was in another town and called her to see how everything was going. I have a new book out, and she was reading through the stories, editing them. I asked her which story she was on, and she replied, "I can't hear you."
I repeated the question, and she answered, a bit exasperated, "I can't hear you."
I looked at my phone, trying to figure out what was wrong, when she started laughing, then said, "That's the name of the story I'm on, I Can't Hear You." We both got a good laugh out of that one.
Anyway, here's the story, and my new book is available here on Amazon. It's called "Rusty Wilson's Mysterious Bigfoot Campfire Stories." I hope you enjoy.

I Can’t Hear You
This story came my way from a fellow who had signed up for a guided trip in Montana. I have a lot of friends in that beautiful state that guide flyfishing trips, and one had broken his arm, so I filled in for him on the Madison River, one of my favorite places. As they say, it was a tough job, but someone had to do it. 
We were all sitting around the campfire after a great dutch-oven dinner (featuring peach cobbler for dessert) when I heard his story. —Rusty
My grandpa was a crusty old guy, a real Wisconsin character. He lived in the same cabin he’d been raised in, way up by a lake in the timber, and he left only when my parents finally persuaded him to go live with them. 
I have many fond memories of going up to that cabin with my brother to stay with Gramps. We spent part of our summers there—well, until this incident, anyway, then we quit going. After this, my dad would go stay with him some, and he finally persuaded Gramps to move in with us.
Well, Gramps’ cabin was old and rustic and had lots of leaks, but Gramps lived there year round, cutting his own wood for winter and growing a big garden, such that you can when you have such a short growing season. 
He had water right there in a little stream that came by his place, and he canned his vegetables and dried the meat from the deer he hunted. It was kind of like paradise in some ways, until winter, anyway.
But I was glad when he finally moved in with Mom and Dad. He seemed to be getting frailer and frailer, and the thought of him being alone out in the woods was kind of unsettling—maybe because he wasn’t really alone, as you’ll see.
This story happened one sunny summer day—well, summer night, actually. My brother and I had been playing poker with Gramps—he loved to play poker—and it was getting pretty late, so we finally hit the hay. As usual, Gramps had won all our change, though he would always let us win it back the next day.
Gramps slept in the little bedroom in the cabin and Jason and I slept on cots in what was the only other room, kind of a combination kitchen and living room.
We’d had a busy day doing what kids do in the woods, and we were tired. We both fell asleep pretty fast and were soon sleeping hard as rocks. I think this happened when I was 14 and Jason was 15. We were what you call Irish cousins, born barely a year apart.
Sometime in the night I woke, not sure why, as I hadn’t been dreaming or anything. I just woke from a dead sleep, just like that. I felt really uneasy.
I knew something was wrong. My instincts have always been pretty accurate that way, and I just lay there listening, and the longer I listened, the weirder I felt. But I couldn’t hear anything unusual. It was strange, and I finally wondered if I wasn’t just imagining things.
I finally drifted back to sleep, only to be awakened again by Jason poking me in the ribs. He was crouched down by my cot, kind of like he was hiding, and he half scared me to death.
“Be quiet, Tommy, don’t make a sound. Just get up and sneak over into the corner with me behind the stove. Stay low.”
Oh man, this was weird. Why was Jason being so dramatic? It wasn’t like him. He never played pranks, so I knew something was up.
I rolled off of the cot and crawled over behind the big pot-bellied wood stove, with Jason right behind me. I tried to make myself small as I crouched down behind it. Jason put his hand on my arm, and I could tell he was shaking. I remembered that I’d woken up earlier, and I knew something strange was going on.
Jason put his hand over my mouth as if he was worried I’d yell or something, then pointed to the little window above the kitchen sink. There, I could see a dark figure, a big head actually, and it was looking right into the cabin.
Jeez, I knew it had to be a bear, but what kind of bear would be bold and curious enough to come right up to the cabin window and look in? And it had to be the quietest bear ever, as it made not even the slightest noise.
“We need to get Gramps up,” I said. “He has the rifle.”
Gramps always kept his rifle in his bedroom. 
“Let’s see what it does. Maybe it’ll leave,” Jason whispered. He then added, “Holy crap! Look at those eyes!”
The bear’s eyes were now glowing a greenish-red, just like it had turned on a flashlight, and that light was scanning the room like it was looking for us!
“Crap is right!” I whispered back. “Stay still. That thing’s huge!”
We both continued to hide behind the big stove, hoping the bear couldn’t see us, and we were now totally terrified.
Soon the head disappeared. We decided to make a break for it and go wake up Gramps. We ran like bats out of hell into the bedroom, where we shook Gramps awake. 
The old guy was getting hard of hearing, so we had to shake him awake, otherwise he wouldn’t hear a thing. About the only way we could even make him hear us anymore was to yell right at him.
He woke up with a start and set straight up. I think we scared the old guy half to death. But we didn’t want to yell at him, so we were in kind of a quandary as to how to tell him what was going on. If we yelled, we knew we would alert the bear as to where we’d gone.
We tried to tell Gramps using a sort of sign language we made up on the spot, but he just sat there half-asleep, looking both alarmed and mystified. He seemed kind of put-out at us for waking him up. Finally, I thought to get some paper and a pen off his dresser, and I wrote him a note, using my pocket flashlight to show him.
“Giant bear window glowing eyes.”
Gramps now looked alarmed and got up, pulling on his trousers and getting his gun out of the closet. He loaded it and fearlessly walked out into the living room. 
We followed like puppy dogs, scared and with our tails between our legs. Gramps must have wondered if we were really his own grandkids or some kind of impostors, as his kin would never be scared of a bear, glowing eyes or not.
He opened the door and shot into the air several times, then closed the door, walked back into his bedroom, put the gun away, and went back to bed, leaving me and Jason feeling kind of inadequate.
It had been such a simple thing, dealing with this bear, so why hadn’t we just taken action and done the same thing and not woken him up? OK, in the future, we’d be more like Gramps instead of hiding behind the stove. We’d go in and get his gun and not wake him up.
But Gramps hadn’t actually seen this thing, and maybe he would’ve been less cavalier if he had. Oh well, we thought, time to go back to bed.
It took me awhile to go back to sleep, and I finally got up and hung a towel over the window. I didn’t sleep too well the rest of the night in spite of this, and Jason said he didn’t sleep a wink.
Well, the next morning Gramps wanted to know what was going on, so we told him. When we were done, he looked pretty grim, and he led us outside to look around. 
The cabin was surrounded by forest, and there were needles and tuft everywhere, so we didn’t see any tracks. But right under the kitchen window the pine needles were pressed down like something heavy had stood there. 
Gramps studied it real close, then looked even more grim. He started yelling into the woods like a madman, well, because he was mad.
“You dang Forest People stay away from here! I’ll shoot every last one of you!”
OK, this made me and Jason pause. Forest People? Who were they?
I asked, and Gramps muttered something about how they were no good and for us to stay close to the cabin until he could deal with them. We got the feeling this had gone on before.
That night Gramps set with us by the big stove longer than usual. He was in the mood to talk, and he started telling us about the Forest People. Jason and I couldn’t believe what we were hearing, and if we hadn’t seen the thing in the window ourselves, we would’ve thought he was pulling our legs.
He told us about when his parents first came out there and built the cabin, and how the Forest People had tried to scare them away. He’d been a little boy, and he was forbidden to ever leave the cabin without an adult. His parents had finally moved the family into town, but they all returned a year later, as they wanted to homestead. By then, the Forest People had torn down the original cabin, and they had to start all over again.
This second time, his dad had lost patience and actually began shooting at the Forest People, though he really didn’t want to kill them, just run them off.
Gramps told stories about seeing them in the woods when he got older and was able to go out alone, though he always carried a gun. He didn’t think they were dangerous, but it scared him to death when he would see them, as they were big and powerful looking.
As time went by, they came around less and less frequently, until finally they didn’t come around at all. It had been years since he’d seen any evidence of them, but he had thought he’d seen one the last time me and Jason were visiting, and he was thinking maybe they were attracted to us since we were kids, and he knew they liked kids.
We just sat there listening, wondering if Gramps hadn’t been living in the woods alone too long. But we knew what we’d seen, and at that point, we were pretty much ready to go home—except we didn’t want to leave Gramps there alone.
We tried to talk him into coming into town when Mom and Dad were scheduled to come get us, but he just laughed and said we were being silly, that the Forest People wouldn’t hurt anybody. Except he wondered if maybe they didn’t kidnap kids once in a while, as the lake had a bad reputation, and there’d been a couple of kids go missing there over the years.
We didn’t like hearing that one bit. Now we were really ready to go home, but our parents wouldn’t come pick us up for another week. We decided we wouldn’t go outside unless Gramps was right there with us.
That night, all was quiet, and the towel over the window made me feel better, as I knew nobody could see us now. Jason and I lay there awhile, talking in low voices, with the light out, discussing what Gramps had told us about the Forest People.
I finally drifted off, but only to once again startle awake in the early hours. I looked at the kitchen window, but the towel was still there.
Jason whispered, “Tommy, you awake? Did you hear that?”
“What was it?” I asked.
“There’s something messing around outside. Sounds like it’s behind the house outside Gramps’ bedroom.”
I lay still and listened. Something was making a low moaning noise, and it would then bang against the back side of the cabin. 
“Gramps can’t hear it,” I whispered. “And it sounds like it might be trying to get him.”
We both rolled off our cots and crawled quietly into Gramps’ bedroom. He was snoring like a saw cutting logs, totally oblivious to the racket outside.
Jason crawled over by the dresser where Gramps’ rifle stood in the corner. He picked it up, got some ammo from the dresser drawer where Gramps kept it, then carefully loaded the gun. He now walked back into the living room, and I followed. We would deal with this on our own and not wake Gramps up—or so we thought.
I held the door open while Jason stepped out a foot or two and shot the rifle into the air. Neither of us had spent much time around guns, and he wasn’t prepared for the recoil, which almost knocked him down. He came stumbling backwards into me, and both of us almost bit the dust, but we managed to stay on our feet. 
I slammed the door shut just as I saw something really big and black come around the corner of the cabin. I locked the door, then quickly put a chair up against it, as if that would have any effect at all on stopping an animal that big.
Jason stood there, rifle pointed at the door, and we both held our breath. We were scared to death.
Of course the rifle shot woke Gramps up, and he came into the living room with his skinny bare legs sticking out of his oversized BVDs. He kind of reminded me of a chicken with his potbelly and skinny legs.
He saw Jason with the rifle and immediately figured out what was going on. Now he was mad.
“Are they back?” he asked with a scowl on his face.
Jason nodded his head yes as Gramps took the rifle from him. Gramps then opened the front door and went outside, BVDs and all. I kind of wondered if he wasn’t a bit more scary looking at that point than the Forest People were.
We instinctively followed him, though we were both scared to death. Gramps didn’t seem a bit scared, and we were now worried about him. I guess we were feeling protective of the old guy, even though he was the one with the gun. 
Well, as I went out the door, I realized we were in deep trouble when I heard the lock click behind me. I hadn’t really unlocked it, just pulled it open from the inside. I tried the handle, and sure enough, we were locked out.
The old cabin only had two windows, the one above the kitchen sink and a small window in the living room. There was no way any of us would fit through the kitchen window, and Jason might barely fit through the other one, being the smaller of us three.
“Jason, we’re locked out,” I whispered to my brother. He turned with a panicked look in his eyes and verified what I had told him.
“Crap,” he said, immediately going to the living room window and trying it. It was also locked.
Meanwhile, Gramps had gone around the side of the cabin, muttering and looking for something to shoot at. I didn’t know whether to follow him and make sure he was OK or try to break into the cabin. Jason was trying to pry the window open, so I decided to follow Gramps.
I was going around the corner of the cabin in the dark following Gramps when I heard the moaning again. It was terrifying, like something from a horror movie, and it sounded like it was right around the corner where Gramps had just gone. And of course it was too dark, so I couldn’t see a thing.
I felt my way along the back wall of the cabin, thinking that surely I would catch up to Gramps soon. And sure enough, I did, bumping into him and scaring the bejeebers out of him. He must’ve jumped three feet in the air, and for a minute I thought I was going to get shot.
And now the moaning was right there, right by where Gramps stood, and he was looking at me, even madder cause I’d scared him. I knew he couldn’t hear the sound, and it sounded like it was right behind him. 
I yelled at him and pointed behind him, but it was so dark he couldn’t even see my hand. Right over Gramps’ shoulder were those eyes, those red-green glowing eyes, and they stood way above both me and Gramps. This thing was huge, and it was about to get my grandpa, and I couldn’t make him understand what was happening. 
I didn’t even think about it, I just grabbed the rifle from Gramps and pointed it at the eyes. I hesitated, as I didn’t want to kill anything, and just as I paused, Gramps turned and saw it. I pulled the trigger, but I shot purposely wide, and the thing jerked back as if I’d shot it, then disappeared into the darkness.
I knew I hadn’t shot it—I couldn’t have possibly shot it—but I was worried just the same. I grabbed Gramps’ arm and steered him around the front of the cabin, where we were still locked out.
The thing was moaning again off to our left, and now it sounded really angry. It soon began banging on the side of the cabin, but it stayed around back where we couldn’t see it. Jason was now crawling through the window, and we were soon all inside. 
I just stood there by the big stove, wide eyed and white faced as Gramps started a pot of coffee, cussing and fussing the whole time. He obviously couldn’t hear a thing and had no idea what kind of a racket the thing was making.
It was soon dawn, and things now got quiet outside. We collected our wits, Gramps going on and on about the Forest People while drinking coffee. He had said they were harmless, but they sure didn’t feel that way to me.
That day, Jason and I walked down the road to the neighbors, who had a phone, and we called Dad. We told him to come and get us, though we couldn’t tell him the real reason with the neighbors listening in.
Dad arrived that evening, and we packed up to leave, begging Gramps to come with us. Of course he refused, acting like he was surprised that we were leaving over something so trivial as a Bigfoot terrorizing us.
That was pretty much it for us wanting to go stay at the cabin, and it wasn’t long before Gramps finally gave up and moved in with us. 
We were glad he had survived it all, and to this day I wonder how many times he’d been terrorized by a Bigfoot and didn’t even know it. I guess ignorance is bliss, as they say.

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