Sunday, February 1, 2009


(Still from the Patterson Film, Bluff Creek, California, 1963)

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.

Late October 2018

Myra felt a second shock at hearing Ginny's words. She listened to Ginny sketch out what had occurred last night and today. One thing she had to say for Ginny, she could do succinct and thorough at the same time.

At the end, Ginny said “So what do we do? Run back to Seattle and get help there? Buy an AK-47 and let her get arrested for shooting it off in a municipal area?” Ginny wasn't laughing, and Myra guessed Nancy wasn't either.

“From my end? Well, I thought it was going extremely well. We haven't gone somewhere that wasn't a book tour or a gallery opening since our trip to Brazil, and before that, really, it was when we went to the Clabbered Scablands right after we got together. We simply haven't gone away from home alone together enough. This was working, at least for me. I felt like we were deepening our connection. We were doing some art, but more we were spending time as companions. And – this may play a role in what went awry – I feel like the sexual tension has been a lot thicker. In a good way.”

Myra realized she was staring at Ginny. She had to agree, now that she heard it put in bald terms like that.

“I don't know, you'll have to ask her...All right. But I don't want to be her mother, Nancy, and I feel like she's reverting to childhood with this...Yeah, I can see that path, kinda...No, the land-line here has an old-fashioned Princess phone, no speaker on it – but Myra's cell has two jacks for headsets, and we've both got ours, we could plug in at the same time and I think that would work...Okay, I think I can remember all that. Talk to you soon.”

Ginny clicked off and said “We need to call her back in five minutes. Go to the bathroom while you can, then get your cell and headset.”

Ginny was telling, not asking. But it definitely didn't feel maternal. Myra realized suddenly she had to pee very badly. She went to the toilet off the kitchen. Ginny turned off the soup, made a pot of tea, and carried that with two mugs and a metal mop bucket to the couch in front of the fire. Myra got her cell and plugged in her headset, then Ginny's. Ginny had gone upstairs and returned with a blanket, her bottle of Rescue Remedy drops, and a roll of toilet paper.

“What, no MREs or penicillin?” joked Myra. Ginny smiled faintly as she put more wood on the fire.

“What did Nancy say, when you first told her – what you told her” asked Myra.

“She said 'Ahh. She found a way.' Don't look at me like that, I don't know what she meant” said Ginny. She settled in beside Myra and put the headset in her ear. “You ready?”

“Nope. But -- “ Myra pushed her speed dial for Nancy.

Once Nancy was on the line, Myra said “I don't think I can do this here, Nancy. It's – I don't feel safe.”

“I hear that, Myra.” Ginny pushed closer to Myra. Nancy continued “But if you were really in danger, I'd get you out of there immediately, you know that, right?”

“You don't know what's going on” said Myra.

“Well, tell me.” Nancy listened again to Myra's detailed account of what had occurred, going back to before the sighting. Nancy said “So you think there's a local sasquatch, perhaps more than one given the possible migration path of the creek, who is fixated on the house where you're staying and maybe you individually?”

Myra refused to look at Ginny's face. “Yes.”

“Why would they be targeting you? And if they are watching you, why do you assume a physical attack is imminent?”

Nancy wasn't just blowing her off, Myra could tell from her tone of voice and also from the tension in Ginny's body nearby, radiating disapproval.

“Well...It's hanging around more than once. That's one clue. And – there've been attacks on people before, even people in houses.”

Nancy said “Are you referring to the 1920's attack on a miner camp? And the more recent incident of a mother with her child having to flee for safety?”

Myra was completely caught off guard. “Yes. How do you know about this, you haven't had time to research since we called you a few minutes ago?”

“I live in the Pacific Northwest, Myra. I pay attention. And, I can tell you this much, you're not the first client I've had with sasquatch issues. I also have to tell you, those two incidents are not entirely credible. There's conflicting information about what occurred, making it doubtful actual attacks occurred.”

Myra felt herself walking away from the trust she'd begun to feel for Nancy. But Nancy continued. “The thing is, overwhelmingly, eyewitness accounts stress that the sasquatch is doing everything it can to escape detection or real contact with humans. Even the most valid piece of evidence, the Patterson film, shows a female all but running away from human discovery. Their habitat is the deepest and remotest of woods, with only accidental intersection of human fringe environments, and if there's an explanation for why we don't have more physical trace of them, it's because they are sentient and determined to keep away from us. Yet you feel this one is breaking with all habit and instinct, and somehow is determined to come after you. So, I ask you again, why do you think this?”

Myra's emotions did another about-face as she thought She's trying to find out the truth, she really is looking out for me. She said “I don't's my gut, I guess.”

“Has your gut ever acted in your behalf before around this issue? About sasquatch, in particular?”

Oh, shit. “Uh...well, it's come up before. But – okay, my gut was wrong. Had to be, I mean.”

“When was this, while you've been with Ginny?”

“No. Before.”

“And were you in this part of the country?” Nancy's questioning was gentle and honest. Which are usually one and the same.

“Uh...No. I was in Seattle. Heart of the city.” Myra dared Ginny to make a sound. “But, Nancy – I'm so scared I really feel like I might die.” Her heart skipped two painful beats as she said it.

“I hear you, Myra, and I believe you. We can't leave this as it is. And I'm not convinced that going elsewhere will automatically remove you from the sense of danger, the adrenaline overload that this fear is inducing. I'd rather fix it here and now, as swiftly as we can. Will you do that with me?”

How could she say no? She understood the people who refused rescue by motorboat in the flooded Ninth Ward after Katrina, she had been raised to live that kind of despair and distrust. But she'd stepped away from her upbringing, she and Allie and Chris had all become traitors, they were not going to die anonymously in a wheelchair under a blanket. She whispered “Yes.”

“All right. Ginny, you are to keep watch over her, not as a mother would but as her beloved lifelong companion and best friend. Is that something you can do?”

“Yes” said Ginny. She put her arm over Myra's shoulders.

“Myra...let's go back to that moment when you looked into its eyes and knew it had seen you, turned to look directly at you. First of all, was this bigfoot a male or a female?”

“Male” whispered Myra. She was close to passing out, and said so.

“Let's avoid that, if we can. The way to not pass out to make sound. Make the sound that expresses what you're feeling.”

Myra opened her mouth and a scream came out that to Ginny's ears didn't sound very different from the recording Myra had played on her computer half an hour earlier. Myra drew breath and kept screaming. They were off.

Ginny later thought she could never have handled this on her own, no matter what kind of training she'd been given. She began wanting to quiet Myra, to hush her into false comfort, anything to not witness the soul-shredding terror Myra was unlocking from some vault inside her. But Nancy kept digging, and Myra kept breaking chains. Myra vomited twice, cried so hard she blew a blood vessel in one eye, and shook hard enough that once she bit her own lip and left a small tear.

This really happened to her thought Ginny. Only not a sasquatch.

After an hour, Myra was exhausted. Ginny dropped Rescue Remedy into her mouth and coaxed a couple of sips of tea into her. She stood to allow Myra room to lie down, and instantly Myra was asleep. Ginny covered her with a blanket and said into her headset “What do I do now?”

“Take some of the Rescue Remedy yourself. Sit someplace comfortable and let me do a clearing for you as well” said Nancy, who was beginning to sound tired herself. Ginny sat by the fire, her knees pulled to her chest, and accepted Nancy's ministrations. When she was done, Nancy said “This will make an enormous difference. I'm proud of you both for getting to this point. Call me back if you need to, but I don't expect you will. Have a wonderful rest of your trip.”

Ginny hung up the phone staring at Myra's face, which looked young and peaceful despite the ravages of crying. She added wood to the fire and went to the kitchen to heat herself a bowl of soup. She'd wash out the bucket after she ate.

Three hours later, Myra woke up. Ginny was at her easel, painting but with half her attention on the couch. Myra sat up and said “Wow.”

“That's the word for it.” Ginny came to sit beside her. “Are you hungry?”

“I can't tell yet. You know, I'm sure our fees over the years paid for her children's college education, but I still think we haven't paid her enough. And you -- “ Myra looked at Ginny with profound love and trust.

“Myra, it's mid-afternoon. If you still want to go find a motel somewhere, we need to make a reservation, get packing. I want you to know, I'll do whatever you need.”

Myra leaned her head on Ginny's shoulder. “No. You were right about how good this place was for us. I'm not scared of it any more.” She pulled back to look Ginny in the eyes again. “I do believe I saw a bigfoot, Gin. I think there's one around here. But of course it's going to stay away from us. I may have scared it as much as it scared me.”

Ginny took a breath. “I don't believe that's what it was, Myra. I hope that's okay to say. I think it must have been a bear. Which does mean being careful out in nature at the moment.”

“It's okay, we don't have to agree.” They grinned at each other. “Did you make soup, do I remember that right?”

“Yes. Plus I fried some of that bacon you haven't touched yet, to crumble into it or whatever.”

Myra laughed. “Let's go.” They walked into the kitchen together. Ginny took a second small bowl of soup herself. They sat at the table, looking out into the garden.

“If it was a bear, putting all those scraps out by the fence didn't help matters” said Myra.

“Getting ready for hibernation” said Ginny. “Do sasquatch hibernate?”

Myra looked at her appreciatively. “Not if you consider the sightings that go year-round. Plus, it's some kind of hominid, I don't know of any hominids that hibernate.”

Ginny reached out and picked up a piece of Myra's bacon to take a crunchy bite. “Not bad” she said, returning the rest to Myra's plate. Myra was laughing.

"Gin, I don't know if this is residue, but I'm feeling a little chill.”

“No, it's gotten markedly colder in her. I pulled that electric heater from the cupboard and set it up under my easel just to keep my paint from coagulating. Shall we go back by the fire, I'll build it back to a roar.”

Myra carried her chai to the couch and watched Ginny squat, expertly rebuilding coals and new logs into a blaze. When she was done, Ginny backed into the curve beside Myra and looked at her from an inch away, saying “You have shiny lips. Bacon grease, I bet.”

“Makes me more attractive to marauding omnivores” said Myra, and they both laughed giddily.

“Will you tell me about when this came up before? In Seattle?” asked Ginny. “Before we became lovers?”

“It was. Around 1979 – I remember that Chris was only a few months out of the hospital, not living with me any more, she'd had a place of her own but that wasn't working out so she was crashing with Allie. And I was trying to break up with Fern, who was – well, let's just say I had reason to be in physical fear at the time. Anyhow, we went to a triple matinee of old scary movies, and one of them was The Legend of Boggy Creek. When we got out of the theater, it was dark, and I began having the heebie-jeebies on the way home. I went – well, kinda bonkers, I guess. Chris or Allie had to spend the night with me for a long time, and I couldn't go to work for a few days. See, I was living in this crappy flat with some other women and my room didn't have a real window with a view, just one that opened on an airwell which was only accessible through the locked basement. But I was sure there was a sasquatch in the airwell below us, hiding whenever anybody looked out the window. Allie finally went down there with her gun to prove to me it was gone.”

Myra was embarrassed. Ginny didn't look weird, however. She kept her face close to Myra's and said softly “I'm glad they were there for you.”

Myra looked into her eyes for a while. She said “ were right about the sexual tension. That blue spaghetti strap shirt you were wearing...”

“This one?” said Ginny, pulling off her sweatshirt to reveal the undershirt.

“Yummy. I'm not ready to make love yet, but I've been missing kissing you something awful. Could we, maybe, give just kissing a try?”

Ginny didn't answer for several long seconds. Myra licked her lower lip and tasted bacon. Finally Ginny said “I thought you'd never ask.”

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.


little gator said...

Not that you've made is clear either way, but I've been hoping it was a bigfoot cause a bear that size would have to be a grizzly, and they're way scarier to me than bigfoots. Mainly because there are so many accounts of grizzlies killing humans in especially nasty ways, including one of my ancestors.

I think I'l leave that ambigious as to which one my ancestor was.

Maggie Jochild said...

I would agree with you about the bear thing, little gator. Though the sasquatch freakout that Myra goes through (both times) is based on real life for me, related to the period of time when I was working through some incest issues. I had friends like Allie and Chris who kept me from getting locked up.

I have a bear story, too, but I"ll tell it another time. Also in the California wildnerness...

kat said...

I'm in the Ginny camp of it being a bear. Or nothing at all, and it's a very, very vivid hallucination from the depths of Myra's subconscious.

If it is a bear, though, it wouldn't be grizzly. There haven't been grizzly bears in california in over a century. It would have to be a brown, black, or, of course, California golden bear.

Anyone who's spent time in the woods of California will have a healthy terror of bears. In Yosemite they have been known to rip the tops off of cars (yes, as if the car was a sardine can) to get to food stored inside.

My best friend claims to have been pursued by some kind of angry wild animal through the trail on the far side of the UC Santa Barbara campus. The leading candidates are raccoon, opossum, or angry pigmy sasquatch.

Maggie Jochild said...

Oh, god. Don't you EVER mention the idea of "angry pygmy sasquatch" around Myra, she's got enough delusion to contend with. Ginny'll have your hide.

kat said...

I suppose the other option would be "enraged wolverine" but I don't think we have those in California either!

Would that be safer around Myra?

little gator said...

I know the grizzlies are gone, but I doubt any other bear would be as big as the critter described. Besides, if she coudl imagine a bigfoot, she could imagine a grizzly.

I know there were grizzlies in California in 1851. see previous comment.

kat said...

Yea, Gator, you're totally right. If it was one not-real thing, it could have been any number of them. When I looked up grizzlies in CA, the article said that they were probably gone sometime in the last decade of the 19th century. By 1908 they were gone.

Of course, now we have a new installment to mull over........Which changes everything....