Thursday, January 29, 2009


(Patrick's Point, California; photo by Bob von Normann)

Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

October 2018

The next morning, Ginny was again at her canvas when Myra got up. Myra made herself breakfast and carried her plate to her computer. After working through lunch, Ginny stopped to make soup and sandwiches. They ate on the back porch, marveling at the clear weather. Ginny said “Are you in need of more exercise?”

“What'd you have in mind, felling trees?”

Ginny laughed. “No, there's that state park near here, Patrick's Point, it's apparently gorgeous. It was a spot sacred to the Sumeg Indians, the brochure says. They've recreated a Sumeg village within the park.”

“Oh god, Ginny, not more white people stucco fake hogans or whatever -- “

“No, Myra, this was supposedly constructed by Native American people. Though I've never heard of the Sumeg, have you?”

“No. All right, let's go, but if it's awful, we leave, okay?”

They filled their packs and drove half an hour. It was an afternoon to remember. They climbed Ceremonial Rock, hiked down the cliff trail to Agate Cove, and found the ancient village site “not awful”. On the way back, they stopped at another seafood restaurant for dinner where the food definitely did not live up to Ginny's standards. Myra was glad to get home, as she was already thinking of the house.

They worked until 10:00, when the climbing done during the day made both of them want hot baths and early sleep. After having been asleep only a short while, however, Myra woke up feeling thirsty. They'd forgotten to bring water upstairs with them. She thought about drinking from the tap, but the rusty pipes sounded unappetizing – they'd been using bottled water for drinking. She slid quietly out of bed and felt her way downstairs. It was pitch black outside and in, but her eyes had adjusted to it.

As she crossed the main room, she saw a square patch of light coming down at a slant in the garden: One of them had left the bathroom light on. Then she noticed a glint to the left of that, by the apple tree, which was visible only as a faintly darker trunk set apart from the gloom around it. Except there was another shape whose girth rivaled that of the tree, erect beside it. She stopped to try to remember what was there, staring out into the night, and she saw this second shape move. An enormous roundness atop it turned and she saw the glint again, a pair of them: A pair of eyes which reflected light, looking straight at her.

She was too frightened to move. A long, thick arm which she had mistaken for a limb of the tree slowly came down from its reach into the tree, and the – whatever it was – shifted slightly to face her directly. She realized the edges of the shape were not crisp, no sharp lines, meaning – what? Fur? The eyes glinted again, and she looked from them to the tree where the main limb began. She knew that limb was over six feet off the ground. The eyes were level with it.

Suddenly she could move. She backed away from the window, into the deeper shadow of the room's center. Her pulse was crowding her throat. She remembered another window was behind her, on the other side, and she stopped her backing. She edged toward the fireplace and fumbled until her hand closed around the poker leaned against brick. She gripped this with a slick palm and backed until she rounded the corner onto the stairs.

She went up the stairs backwards, staring with absolute terror down at the dark square of the doorway where something might appear at any moment, glinting a look up at her. When she reached the bedroom, she closed the door and locked it, but it was a latch attached to the outer wood. It would be child's play to break through that lock.

“Ginny!” she hissed. She lay the poker atop the heavy oak dresser and began dragging it in front of the door. The scrape of wood on linoleum made her dizzy for an instant, it seemed so loud. But It knew she'd seen it, It already knew she was awake and aware.

“Ginny, Ginny, Ginny” she kept saying in an urgent voice. It was the racket of moving the dresser which woke Ginny, however. She said “Whah? Is that the pipes?”

“Ginny, there's something outside. Something bad” whispered Myra.

Ginny bolt upright and whispered “What is it?”

“By the apple tree, a – Ginny, I think it's a sasquatch.”


“Bigfoot. Ginny, when you unpacked did you go through all the closets up here, is there any chance on earth there's a gun in one of these closets?”

Myra saw Ginny's hand go out toward the lamp. “Nooo!” she hissed. “No lights. It already knows I saw it, but I don't want it to know which room we're in.”

“Myra...You're talking crazy. Are you trying to pull a prank on me?”

Myra sat on the bed next to Ginny, gripping her poker, and said “I should've planned for this, I knew this is an area where there's been sightings, remember, we passed that wooden sculpture in that Oregon town on the way. Ginny, if it comes in the door, hide in the closet, I'll beat it as much as I can before it gets me, maybe it'll be hurt enough to go away after that.”

“Myra, tell me exactly what happened. Right now.”

Myra gave her a disjointed version, interrupting herself often to listen intently. After two minutes, Ginny said “Myra...There's no such thing as sasquatch.”

Myra looked away from the door long enough to gape at her. “I can't believe after all this time you're revealing – do you not believe in evolution, Ginny?”

“It's not connected to evolution” said Ginny, standing and pulling on pants. As she zipped up her hoodie sweatshirt, Myra said “You're not opening that door, what if it's on the other side, waiting?”

“It's not, Myra. I'm not saying you saw nothing – although the possibility that you dreamed it has to be included in the mix, honey, it does – but whatever you saw was either a nearby tree creating strange shadows on the darkest night of the year or a small animal up a tree – or maybe a bear, bears stand upright. Whatever it was, it's not in this house.” Ginny had her boots on. “Where's the flashlight?”

Please don't go out there, Ginny, please, please -- “ Myra was almost gibbering.

“Myra, I promise you I will be okay. Where did you put the flashlight?”

“On the mantle. But don't use it until you have to, Ginny, keep the advantage of night vision.”

“Are you staying up here? Come help me push back this dresser, then.”

When Ginny swung open the door, Myra made sure she was in range to land a blow on the thing's head. But there was nothing in the tiny hall. Ginny started down the stairs and Myra stood above her, watching for something to lunge around the bottom corner. Ginny stepped out into the room without hesitating and Myra heard her say “Found the flash. There's nothing out here, Myra, you can come down.”

Myra descended one stair at a time, her knees in a crouch. By the time she reached bottom, her thigh muscles were burning. “Where are you?” she whispered before rounding the corner.

“Looking out the back window. I don't see a thing, Myra.”

“It can see you, I guarantee it.” Myra crept around and stayed in the middle of the room, looking between the two windows.

“There's nothing by the tree. No shapes anywhere that I can't name, I covered every inch of that yard, Myra. It's gone.”

“Maybe it's around front” said Myra.

“I can turn on the outside lights, that will scare away any animal” said Ginny.

“No god no, Ginny, the switch for the back porch light is outside, you'd have to open the door.” Myra had begun shivering violently. She crossed in a crouch to the kitchen and bent under the sink, rattling containers.

“What are you doing?” asked Ginny.

“Got it.” Myra stood up with a spray can of oven cleaner. “This has lye in it, I can get it in the eyes once it's in range.”

“I'm telling you, there's nothing out there, Myra.” Ginny joined her in the kitchen, putting her hand on Myra's arm. “My god, you're having a chill. Here.” Ginny opened the refrigerator and when the light came on, Myra hissed and withdrew.

“I'm making you some warm milk with honey in it” said Ginny. “Stay here and do not take the cap off that fucking Easy Off, Myra.” She poured milk into a pan and turned on a burner. She took off her sweatshirt and zipped it onto Myra. When two large mugs of milk were ready, she left the dirty pan in the sink and herded Myra back upstairs with gentle coaxing. Once in the bedroom, Myra said “We have to put the dresser back.”

“Okay, if it will make you calm down.”

“And I have to switch sides of the bed with you, so I can watch the door.” Myra put her spray can on the bedside table and kept the poker in her hand. Ginny sat behind her and gave her sips of milk, easing Myra back against her chest, murmuring reassurance. Eventually Myra's trembling stopped, but she was still icy with terror inside. When Ginny persuaded her to lie down, Myra facing the door and Ginny spooned behind, Myra slowed her breathing and listened until she could hear the surf again. After half an hour, she could tell Ginny was asleep. She kept her hand on the poker and waited for morning.

In spite of herself, she did drop off before dawn, though only for a few minutes, she thought. Once light began pouring in the windows, however, a small thaw occurred inside. She was stiff from not changing position. She stretched her legs and went back to sleep without knowing it.

When she woke up again, the morning light was far advanced and Ginny was gone, the bedroom door standing open. Myra screamed Ginny's name. Ginny answered “I'm downstairs, honey. Put on warm socks and join me, I'll make you breakfast.”

Myra appeared at the bottom of the stairs with her eyes fixed on the window to the back yard. “Tell me you didn't go outside by yourself” she demanded.

“I didn't, though I did have a scan with the binoculars. No signs that I could see. Listen, I'm making you oatmeal the way you like it, with cream and butter. You can put applesauce on top or “ Ginny paused to make a major concession “brown sugar if you'd rather.”

Myra did not want applesauce from that tree. The oatmeal, hot and thick, gave her instant strength. Ginny had made chai as well and Myra sipped at her cup between bites. When she was finished, she said “I don't think I can go out there.”

“That's okay. Will you trust me to tell you the truth?”

After a long pause, Myra nodded. Ginny already had on her wellies. She picked up the digital camera and reached for the back door lock.

“Take the poker” urged Myra.

“It'll just be in my way” said Ginny. She shut the door behind herself and Myra crossed to stand at the window, gripping the sill. Ginny went down the steps and bent to look closely at the ground wherever there was no thick vegetation. She turned to make a “nothing” signal to Myra before going down the quasi-path to the apple tree. She approached it carefully, squatting and moving forward in a duck walk so she could scan the earth. After circling the tree, she stood and put her hands on the trunk, feeling the bark. She leaned as high as she could, looking into the upper branches. Myra noticed that the top of Ginny's head did not reach the main limb where the eyes of It had glinted at her. She began shivering again.

Ginny again made the “nada” sign. She went to the shed, opened its door and looked inside. When she was closing it, Myra saw her back muscles tense. Myra pulled the cap off her spray can and shifted it to her right hand, poker in her left, as she edged toward the back door.

Ginny walked over to the back gate and looked at it closely. Myra suddenly realized it was slightly different, not hanging quite plumb. Ginny opened it, and it swung akimbo, the bottom hinge ripped from its post. She stepped out onto the trail and crouched again, inspecting the path. Don't go toward the woods, don't go, don't go begged Myra. She shifted the poker to her spray can hand so she could open the door and yell at Ginny.

But Ginny didn't leave the yard. She came back to inspect the sides of the house out of view from the window. Myra began feeling like she might throw up her oatmeal. Her nausea stopped mounting when Ginny returned to the back porch and came inside, looking with clear blue eyes at Myra standing, can at the ready.

“Put that down, Myra, I need my vision. Sit down, drink another cup of tea. Okay: Something pushed in the back gate. But it left no tracks anywhere in the yard, no sign anywhere, Myra. And from how it muscled through the gate, from the bottom, means it was on four legs. Which means bear, or possibly a big deer – a deer could have stood up against that trunk looking for apples. There's no marks on the trunk, no fur, no scat, no residue whatsoever.”

“Sasquatch don't leave fur or claw marks behind, Ginny, just footprints if the ground is wet and they can't find a way around it. We haven't had a real rain since we got here.”

“Do you hear yourself, Myra? You're trying to argue that because there is no sign of it being a bigfoot, then it must be one. Honey, people have been trying to come up with tangible proof of this mythological creature for all our lives, swarming all over the woods in hunting parties, and there's been not a scrap of evidence produced -- “

“The Patterson film, in Bluff Creek, California. Hundreds of plaster casts of footprints. Recordings of screams. Plus all the people like me who've fucking seen one, Ginny, though nobody believes them.” Myra felt anger dropping in to mix with terror in her blood. “Chris will fucking believe me, she said where she grew up people knew about them, they were called skanicum. And, my god, you fucking smelled it, Ginny, that's what we've been smelling. Oh my god, it's been watching us since we got here, and that night I walked home alone from the beach, it was there, oh shit, it was following me -- “ Myra clamped her hands over her mouth, holding back the impulse to retch.

Ginny put her arms around Myra. “Honey, honey. I had no idea you had this kind of bogeyman in your unconscious. We're okay, nothing has hurt us or menaced us, I promise you we're okay.”

“I want a gun, Ginny. I want to drive into town and buy a rifle, but you have to go with me, I can't do it alone -- “

“Absolutely not, Myra. Even if you weren't having a panic attack, no guns in a house where I'm staying.” Ginny's voice was unyielding.

“Then I want night vision goggles, I've wanted them for years, if I'd had them last night I could've taken a fucking photo and you'd fucking believe me.”

“You won't be able to find night vision goggles in Trinidad, Myra.”

“Then I'm buying them online so they're waiting on me when we get back. I don't spend much on toys, you can't argue that I'm a spendthrift, I'm buying the goggles!” Myra's voice had gone very high.

“I'm not arguing with you” said Ginny. “Get online and research the perfect pair.”

“And that new kind of mandolin that Frances has at the restaurant, I want one of those, too, I don't want to wait until my old one isn't usable any more. And that maple sugar candy from the Vermont Country Store, I want to buy as much of that as I feel like.”

Ginny patted Myra's head. “If a shopping spree will help you deal with this, knock yourself out. The weather is changing out there, I think rain is about to hit, so I'm going to haul in enough wood to fill our bin for the next few days.”

Myra couldn't bear to think about the next few days here. She watched Ginny go outside with the wood hod until she was out of sight around the corner of the house. With an act of will, she carried her weapons to her computer instead of waiting to watch for Ginny's return. She did look around involuntarily when she heard steps on the back porch, to be sure it was Ginny. She stopped looking after Ginny's third trip, as she began surfing sites that sold night vision equipment.

Half an hour later, the rain began in earnest, a steady shushing sound on the roof, a braided gurgle from the eaves. Ginny put on her poncho and said “Myra. I need to repair that gate, to keep the deer from returning to level the garden. There's wire and stuff I can use in the shed.”

Myra waited until Ginny was out the back door before turning her computer around so she could watch through the window, keeping guard. They lost the functionality of the gate by the time Ginny was done, wiring it tight against both side posts, but Myra thought that was for the best. When Ginny returned, she lit a fire, then put potatoes in to roast and began another soup for lunch.

Once this was simmering, she walked over to stoke the fire, going by Myra hunched at her computer to retrieve the poker. She said abruptly “What the fuck are you looking at?”

“The Patterson film, Ginny. Part of the evidence you say doesn't exist, look at that and tell me it's not real, for god's sakes, it's got breasts. And that's the head shape I saw, that's the arms I saw. Plus listen to this, do you really want to hear this in the middle of the night?” Myra, wild-eyed, pulled the headphone plug from her computer so Ginny could hear the drawn-out scream of some animal or, more likely Ginny thought, the carefully constructed hoax of an audio expect.

“Ginny, I can't stay here another night, I can't, I just can't.” Myra was begging again.

“Do you want to rent a motel room for a night? I'm sure Trinidad has vacancies.”

“No!” Myra shook her head violently. “Nowhere near here. We have to get to a city, someplace with highrise hotels, at least five floors off the ground. Someplace with security guards and no accessible windows.”

Ginny sat down, starting to feel defeat. Myra pressed her argument. “I'm fighting for my survival here, Ginny, this is life or death. I'm being hunted and you can't protect me, nobody can, it's just me. It's after me now, it knows I told.” She was ranting.

Ginny reached for her cell phone on the table and began looking up a number.

“Who are you calling, the park service? They'll just deny it, Ginny, they always do officially, but read some of these testimonials, they're from -- “

Ginny reached out and did something she had never done, pulled the plug on Myra's computer without checking to see if documents were saved. It shocked Myra enough to silence her. Ginny heard a voice on the other end answer, “Hello?”

“Nancy? We're in California and Myra's gone off the deep end.”

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.

1 comment:

Jesse Wendel said...


At least they have each other. And Nancy.