On Caddo Lake (My Bigfoot)
At Caddo Lake a huge cypress swamp is mistaken for a lake, astride North Texas and Louisiana.
I had put together some money by myself - not like my sister, who runs a sort of catch-and-release program for husbands. I bought a tiny cabin on a narrow black slough. Not a single neighbor. From my back porch a patch of prairie degenerated into woods on both sides of my pier. I was free from everyone who’d ever introduced me as a spinster. Visitors from civilization couldn’t find me, and stopped looking. There was absolutely no connectivity.
I took long paddles at all times of day, dusk and night. The first time, looking from the lake to the shore I saw a dangling tangle of Spanish Moss blown by the breeze, but the tangle kept moving among the trees and disappeared. The second time the moving tangle was darker, verging on black, and well over 6 feet tall. The third time I saw the tangle was eight months after the first; it was striding on legs. Then I didn’t see anything for a year and a half.
I was disappointed, and dwelt on it. Based solely on its height I came to think of it as a male. Should I be afraid? Did he range the vast length of marshy shoreline? I reasoned there might be more than one, but they were solitary. Perhaps the males foraged to feed and the females lived deep in the woods, with young. Speculation.
My sister sent me a loon call, after reading some Bigfoot folklore. She always did believe anything. At night mine was the only loon call, so I gave it up and pitched the call into the slough.
If bigfootus erectus was not using tools - spears and snares - then he was not catching live animals. Perhaps he was scooping up fish like bears do, or consuming grubs. An alternative would be that he lived on roadkill, but then he’d be seen occasionally - prying up smashed raccoons and dragging dead deer. Nor was he dumpster diving. There were no reports of stinking masses of hair climbing out of bins behind restaurants.
I began to sauté earthworms in olive oil with thyme and garlic – spices my sister mailed me. I left out a mound of them on a plate each night. I also tried roasted grubs and beetles, and sometimes left a salad of moss and mice. Ultimately I eliminated the thyme and garlic, or rather, ran out. I was encouraged by the food disappearing, until I perceived that a couple coyotes waited each night at the edge of the woods for me to deliver their supper.
My sister, thinking I got cold at night, sent me a sable coat, in her closet from a marriage to banker. I sewed myself a loose fur jumpsuit fitting top to toe, and paraded around in it many dusks. Hot, but good against mosquitoes. I got no takers. My meticulously crafted suit grew gnarly and tangled, snarled with burrs.
My sister had sent me a hairbrush so I’d “keep myself up”. One afternoon I sat in my chair out back and tried to brush the knots out of my jumpsuit.
I spied a movement in the woods.
In subsequent days I continued brushing my outfit, and my own dark hair. Hours and hours. I grew glossy, and often went walking.
The long walks brought no Bigfoot but one day - when I was picking up my brush from the kitchen shelf I saw that the screen were dented as if by four fingernails. My hair suit wasn’t attracting Bigfoot. It was my brush.
At that point it was a simple matter, catching him. I constructed a large stout cage of cut saplings and suspended it twelve feet up in a tree. After carefully brushing myself one evening I placed the brush under the cage, attached by a hidden tripline. By 1 a.m. I’d caught my fella. When I turned on the back porch light, he was in the cage, absorbed, brushing out his armpit. Not angry, but maybe a bit astounded at the light, so I turned it back off. There was the moon after all. I didn’t bother putting on the suit but walked out there to look at him. He didn’t snarl or anything, just watched me sidewise and kept on brushing.
I pulled up a patio chair and sat there for about an hour in his field of vision. He was working out some of the worst knotted tufts. Then I raised the cage up into the tree again, and he kept on with his male vanity. Ultimately he stopped and shambled into the woods.
Omitting the cage and snare, I hosted him various other evenings that Spring. I left out there a stool for him to sit on, placed the brush on top of it, and went inside after brushing myself. When I’d come back out, many evenings, he be there. I’d bring out my knitting and we’d sit together. He didn’t make any noises except a little frustrated “mmmfpht” sound while struggling with some horrible tangle. He couldn’t grasp the use of scissors but would sometimes yank a snarl out with his teeth. One night he arrived with a six-foot-long dead watersnake and placed it beside my rocking chair. A present, but it gave me an idea what food he ate. The next night I put out a plate between us of fried snake segments and we had a fine old time. He learned to drink water from a cup, but would go down to the shore to dip up water that was brown with tannins and speckled with duckweed. We differed on this somewhat. We had snake together every couple weeks, like town people who stream a movie and eat popcorn.
Our relationship ended when I made the mistake of handing him the brush as he was preparing to go. He looked (down) into my eyes with a searching look, and then ambled off like an orangutan. I don’t know what his look meant. Was it, “I can have this brush?!?” Or was it more like, “Are you sending me away?” I think he concluded the latter because I never saw him after that. He took the brush, with my all of my hair ties wrapped around its handle.
I had a local deputy sheriff who would come around and check on me. I never told him about Biggie. The deputy had a shaved head and I thought he wouldn’t understand. He treated me like I was a crazy lady anyway; it probably would’ve made his day if he showed up and I was deceased. He didn’t think anyone should be living alone. In fact I chose ultimately to move into Uncertain, the neighboring town. I bought the old ‘unisex’ hair salon. Biggie had given me an insight. For all those isolated or missing, grooming is a link. My shop always has two or three people at any one time, together, and they walk out feeling glossy and good. Come by sometime.
By David Portz
|The author, David Portz