My Brother’s Keeper
My dad lived a pretty ordinary life with one exception. He was a
Vietnam veteran and struggled for years with post traumatic stress
syndrome. He spent years trying to exorcise ghosts from his past;
ghosts, who would come to him even in broad daylight and disturb
his sleep at night with their unrest. He never seemed to stay
ahead of them, but he never gave up the fight. He worked hard at
trying to find some resolution and peace of mind, but the mental
scars were too deep. His physical scars were a painful reminder as
well. While I was growing up, I can remember he was always under
VA care. Even though he took his medications regularly, they gave
him little relief, but they were better than nothing. All he
wanted was to be left alone to try and heal.
He never wanted a lot of material possessions out of life and
taught me the greatest joy is just to love and be loved in return.
He taught me that love, family, and happiness was worth more than
all the wealth and possessions in the world. He only wanted to be
comfortable, provide a good life for his family, and find his own
modicum of happiness. When he returned from Nam he thought he
could outrun his past. He bought a big Harley and hit the road. He
traveled with some of the roughest men in the biker world. He also
learned to travel with the best. They were men who didn’t judge.
They asked no questions as long as you were forthright, honest,
and contributed your share to the group. Still it wasn’t enough to
escape the years he spent in that rotten, stinking hell-hole of a
* * * * * * *
I had an unusual relationship with my dad. I always loved,
admired, and respected him while most of my school buddies hated
their dads. They were constantly getting into trouble and at odds
with their fathers. I guess I got a reputation of being a
goody-goody, because I always thought about the consequences of
some action I was about to consider, and how it might affect my
mom and dad. The idea of hurting them or being a disappointment to
my dad kept me on the straight and narrow. I figured my dad saw
enough horror, pain, and sorrow in his life, he didn’t need me to
add to his burden.
Dad never encouraged me to play sports, but I did. Most of all, I
played because I genuinely love to, but that wasn’t the biggest
payoff. My greatest joy came from the look in my dad’s eyes, and
the hug he gave me after I played a good game. He’d put his big
arm around me, pull me close, and tell me, “Ya’ done good, Son,
real good. S’damn proud of ya,” he'd say. Often he’d wipe away a
tear. Well, sir, you could’ve given me all the trophies or awards
in the world and none would’ve meant as much to me as those
moments with my dad.
I loved to get away with my dad and go someplace we’d never been
before. Sometimes we’d take the old motor-coach on a weekend trip,
just the two of us, go fishing or just to see what we could find
of interest to do. We’d go to a rodeo, a monster truck rally, or a
tractor pull somewhere; something interesting to do several
weekends a year. We both looked forward to those times together.
We grew close over the years, and I could tell my old man
anything. He not only was my old man, he became my best friend. I
could tell him the secrets of my heart, and he would listen.
Nothing I could’ve told him would upset him or ever keep him from
I knew it in my heart he loved me without reserve, but still,
there was something missing between us. There was something about
his past, a major part of him, he would never talk about. Vietnam
was always there, looming in the background like a darkly cloaked
stranger waiting to devour him. I could never go there with him.
As much as he loved me, I couldn’t offer him comfort from his
pain. The times I tried his eyes would water, and he would quietly
tell me, “One time, before I die, I’ll tell you. I can only tell
you once. Don’t ask me why, because you’ll understand when when
the time comes and I think you're ready for it,” he would say.
I thought it sounded very vague and mysterious, but my mom backed
him up when I questioned her. “If your dad told you he’ll tell
you, he will in his own time. You can’t force that man. Take it
from me. Lord knows, I learned the hard way. He’s a good man with
a big heart, and he loves us like no other. He’s proved his love
to me, you, and your sister over and over. I’m lucky to have found
him for a husband, but you’re just as lucky to have him as your
father. He’s a complex man, but he’s not complicated. He has a
right not to talk about his past. You’ll understand one day, trust
me,” she said, and that’s all she would say on the matter.
They had two children, me and my older sister Joyce. Dad named me
after him, Jessie Benjamin Cassidy, Jr. Mom told me dad’s folks go
back to the same Cassidys as Butch Cassidy. Some even say my dad
looks a lot like old photos of him. But there’s another side of
our family I’ve never met. I overheard dad and mom speak of them
from time to time, but it was always away from us kids like they
didn’t want us to know. I guess every family has some folks they’d
rather the rest of the world not know about. Dad wasn’t too fond
of the idea one of his ancestors was an outlaw.
I was never called Jess, Jessie, or Ben. From the earliest I can
remember, my dad just called me ‘Grub.’ Hardly anyone in our small
town new my real name or even I was a ‘junior.’ I was Grub to
everyone. I didn’t mind. I grew up with the name, and it was the
name my old man liked to call me. He spoke my cognomen with such
affection it made me feel good every time my dad called by my
nickname. It was his special name for me. My mom would slip when
she was mad at me and call me by my real name. It was about the
only time I heard it. “Jessie Benjamin Cassidy Junior, I won’t
have you using language like that in my house, young man!” she
would scold me.
“Yes, ma’am. Sorry, Mom,” I replied.
Even when I graduated from high school, and they called my name
for my diploma: “Grub Cassidy.”
I asked dad one time why he called me ‘Grub’ and he got the
strangest, far away look on his face followed by a sweet smile and
told me, “One day soon, perhaps, I’ll take you to meet your
namesake. I been thinking on it a lot lately. We just may do it
before very much longer,” he said.
Dad was raised to be a cowboy on a ranch in West Texas, but after
he returned from Vietnam, he found it almost impossible to fit
back into society. He bought a big bike and toured the country for
several years until he met my mom and settled down with her. They
decided to buy a ranch in a small town outside of San Diego about
thirty miles. He would never talk to me about the four years he
spent in Nam and only a few stories of his eight years being a
nomad biker. Every now and then one of his old biker buddies would
drop by, and dad would treat them like visiting royalty. They
would toss back a few and talk about some wild times. I could tell
from the stories, the way my dad and his buddies would tell them,
they had some great times together.
My dad never was a bad man and stayed within the law, although I
picked up enough from a couple of the bikers to learn he rode with
some pretty rough men during his sojourn into the world of
scoot-bums. None of them ever had a bad word to say about my dad.
They would get me off to the side and tell me of the love,
admiration, and respect they held for my old man. With tears in
their eyes, they’d hug me, and tell me how proud I should be to
have him for a dad. After they left, dad would never talk more
about his life as a biker.
Certainly, any conversation about Vietnam was strictly ‘off
limits.’ I remember one of the bikers bringing it up, but my dad
hushed him up real quick. The man did so immediately out of
respect for my dad and his family. One time we were sitting around
the table listening to an older, grizzled, battle scarred,
tattooed biker tell a story about a time when he and dad walked
into the North woods looking for firewood for their camp and
accidentally came upon a family of Bigfoot. He didn’t tell much
more except the Bigfoot family was as surprised as they were, and
he and dad high-tailed it out of there.
I laughed and challenged my dad and the old man. “That’s a good
one. Everybody knows there ain’t no such thing as a Bigfoot,” I
“Isn’t such a thing, Dear,” mom was quick to correct me.
My dad smiled and leaned back in his chair. “Wouldn’t be too sure
of that, Son,” Dad said, paused for a minute, and winked at his
buddy, “If this man tells you we saw a family of Bigfoot, you can
cash that check at the bank.” It’s all my dad said, and he
wouldn’t answer any questions later.
* * * * * * *
My sister Joyce was four years older than I, and she graduated
college the year I graduated high school. I wasn’t the only one
who got a nickname from my dad. He called Joyce, ‘Sissy’—
short for sister— and it stuck with her until she went to college.
Everyone in our small town knew us as ‘Sissy’ and ‘Grub’ Cassidy.
She didn’t care either and worshiped my dad. No matter how bad he
felt, how tired he was from working all day and trying to run a
ranch part-time, he made time for his kids. He’d stop anything he
was doing if we needed him. He never put us aside with an excuse.
His arms were always open to hear the least or the worst of our
It was also the summer my dad and mom planned for many years. When
they felt dad was financially able, he would quit his daytime job,
and run the ranch full time. It seemed all our lives converged,
matured, and changed that summer, but it was a happy time for the
four of us. We were never closer as a family. Joyce got a good job
in our small town and decided to live at home for a while. She was
a big help and companion for mom. To my sister’s credit, she
insisted on paying her way, and shared our mother’s work load
around the place.
I didn’t have plans to go to college right away and wanted to stay
home a couple of years to help dad with some major projects. I
wanted to make things as easy for him as possible when I finally
left the nest. I was involved with ranch work since I was old
enough to walk, and it became a way of life for me. By the time I
got to school and started my first class, I put in a full day's
work; after I got home from school I had chores to do. Living on a
ranch is wonderful, but it’s one Hell of a lot of work. The
problem is, you’re never through. There’s always something else
that needs to be done. Nevertheless, it taught me anything worth
having is worth working for; also, it taught me to always protect
and respect the animals under your care.
We grew close as a family that summer, but there was something not
right with my dad. He seemed preoccupied and restless. My mom had
the patience of Job and never pushed him; however, she knew him
well enough she could tell what was bothering him. We worked hard
all summer, got a lot of things done around the place, but it
seemed the more we accomplished the less happy dad was. He never
was grumpy or mean-spirited. It was like a giant sadness would
come over him, and for all his medications, he couldn’t shake it.
I overheard a conversation one evening between dad and mom I
wasn’t suppose to be privy to. They were in the barn, and I walked
out to let them know Sissy and I had dinner ready.
As I approached the barn, I stopped for a minute to listen to
their conversation. I knew how to be quiet, and they didn’t hear
me coming. I listened for a moment not wanting to interrupt their
conversation. There was a break, and they remained silent for a
few minutes. Mom broke the silence, “We both know what’s wrong,
Jessie. Why don’t you take Grub and introduce him to the family?
Get away, just the two of you. I know how happy being with him
makes you. Every time you two go on a trip together, you both come
back new men. You’re both revitalized. It does as much for Grub as
it does you. That boy worships you. You may never have another
opportunity like this to open up to him, Jessie, and he needs to
know. He’s been a good son to us, and he works his butt off around
here. He hasn’t asked for a thing. He hasn’t said a word, but I
know he’s hurting because you’re hurting. He’s like me. He feels
your pain, but unlike me, he has no idea what it is or how to help
you. It’s eating him up, Jessie. Don’t do that to our boy.
"Now’s a perfect time, before the cold weather sets in up there.
You haven’t been back since you took me and introduced me to the
family. That was years ago when I was pregnant with Sissy. They
were so kind and considerate of me in my delicate condition. They
treated us like royalty. I know they’d love to see you and meet
Grub. You made a promise to them. He looks just like you, Jessie,
and I know how proud of him you are. Go! I got Sissy here to keep
me company, and we can manage the ranch just fine. If I need help,
I can always call your dad. He’ll be here in a minute,” she urged.
They were quiet for a moment, but dad didn’t answer her. I cleared
my throat, and continued on into the barn. I found dad hugging and
kissing mom. Dad had tears in his eyes.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” I said.
“No, Son, we’re just talking. What’s up?” dad asked.
“Dinner’s ready,” I replied.
“Thanks, Son! Come, we’ll walk back to the house with you,” dad
said. Dad put his arm around mom, his other around me, and we
started back to the house. “What da’ ya’ say, Sprout, you and me
pack up the old GMC motor-coach and take off for a couple of
weeks? We’ll load up on basics, throw the fishing tackle in the
extra bedroom, and hit the road. We won’t schedule nothing. We’ll
stop when we’re tired, find a stream what looks promising, like it
might have a couple of fish in it, or stop if we see something
what interests us,” dad said.
“Sounds great to me, Dad, but what about the ranch?” I asked.
“Your mom and Sissy will be here, and I’ll call dad. He’d love to
come stay for a while and get away from his place. Besides, he
loves your mom’s cooking. He and Barney (Granddad’s dog) love it
over here,” dad replied.
“Great! I'd love to spend some one-on-one time with ma' dad. I’ll
start packing right after dinner,” I said with enthusiasm. We had
a wonderful dinner, and dad’s demeanor changed immediately. He was
up, smiling, talking about places we might go, and things we might
see. Mom and Sissy were happy for him and me and joined in the
The next day, dad and mom went off to the big Costco warehouse to
do some shopping, and after my chores, I spent the rest of the day
putting my things away in the motor-coach. When they returned dad
asked me to give him a hand with some boxes of stuff he wanted to
store in the spare bedroom of the coach. It was always Sissy and
my room when we traveled as a family. I helped him unload a couple
of cases of Skippy super-chunk peanut butter and a case of large
jars of grape jelly. There was another case of strawberry
We had a small freezer unit in the coach. Dad and I put in some
frozen dinners and meat we could cook on our journey. The rest we
filled with several loaves of wheat and some white bread; more
bread than we would ever eat. Mom and Sissy spent two days cooking
and baking so we’d have cookies, a cake, and several pies which
could be frozen and quickly thawed. We had a good size
microwave/convection oven in the motor-coach. I noticed a
beautiful chocolate cake neatly wrapped for the freezer with a
note in mom’s handwriting: “For the family” I didn’t ask. I never
saw dad pack so much stuff for our family let alone for just the
two of us.
I laughed at him. “You sure you got enough peanut butter and
jelly, Dad?” I teased.
“Yeah. I guess it does seem like a lot, but we got us one Hell of
a price on it. It pays in the long run to buy in bulk. It has a
long shelf life, and you never know when you might have a midnight
craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Beside, it’s
always nice to have extra in case you might be entertaining angels
unawares,” he chuckled as he winked at me. I couldn’t imagine us
entertaining anyone, let alone angels. Do angels eat peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches? I wondered.
On the other hand, dad would run into folks he hadn’t seen for
years, and it was like they hadn’t been apart for more than thirty
minutes. My dad was that kind of man. He never met a man he
couldn’t find something good about. He seemed to treasure his
memories of their times together. So, I just never knew about my
dad, and as it turned out, the first night we were on the road we
ran into fifteen bikers who were his close friends. One of them
was the big, burly, older biker who told the story about dad and
him running across a family of Bigfoot. His name was Beryl.
“You takin’ your boy to the North woods to visit Al and Frank?”
Big Beryl asked.
“Yeah, Beryl, been thinkin’ about it. I thought I might. I made
some promises I need to keep,” Dad said.
“I'll say you did! Well, it’s about time. The family and other
folks around there have been asking about you for years. Hell,
ever' time I see 'em they always ask about you. I told ‘em about
you and your family. They always wanna' know when you plan on
visiting,” Beryl said.
“You seen them lately?” Dad asked surprised.
“Oh, Hell, yeah! I visited Al and Frank about this time last year.
All the old gang is still around there, and I know they’d love to
see you again, especially to meet Grub junior. Talk about killing
the fatted calf. By the way, you packing any presents?” I heard
Big Beryl lean into my dad to ask in a low tone.
“Two cases of super chunk peanut butter; one case of grape jelly;
one of strawberry preserves, and about two dozen loaves of bread,”
replied my dad equally as quiet. I pretended not to hear.
Big Beryl shook his head and chuckled as he gently nudged my dad
with his huge elbow. “That ought a’ do it,” he said as he
continued to laugh and slap my dad on the back. “Mind if I join
ya’ll up there? I got me some things to do with the family here,
first, but depending on your schedule, I can meet you at Al and
Frank’s in a week. I better meet you someplace else first, because
word travels fast in that small place. After your first night, I’d
probably never find you guys,” Big Beryl said with another big
I never saw my dad laugh like he did with Beryl. He threw back his
head and really let go. It was good to hear my old man laugh.
“Good point, Brother! Why don’t we meet in Centerville and you can
follow us up. It’s only – what – an hours drive to Al and Frank’s
from there?” Dad asked.
“‘Bout that, maybe a little less, I’d say. It's only thirty-two
miles as the Harley flies,” replied Big Beryl, “I’ll look for you
in the R.V. campground, and if’n you ain’t there yet, look for me
at Rosey’s Bar and Grill downtown. What say we meet there five
days from today? That’ll give you and the boy a chance to take a
leisurely trip up and me a chance to take care of what I got to
do,” Beryl said.
“Fine, five days it is. Look forward to seeing you again," Dad
We stayed the night in the camp site outside of Barstow with the
bikers, said our goodbyes the next morning, and headed out to Las
Vegas with the early morning sunrise. I’d never seen my dad in
such a good mood. His love for me was always solid, but when we
were traveling together by ourselves, he radiated love toward me
from every pore in his body. In all our years together as father
and son I never felt more close to him. I felt like he and I were
on a quest together to find the Holy Grail. He was like a knight
in shining armor to me who knew the wherefore and why of the
sacred vessel, its secret hiding place, the magic trails we must
travel to get there, and I was his faithful page for our wonderful
adventure. I decided not to question but to ride along and support
my Sir Knight in any battle he saw fit for us to wage. It was my
way of showing my dad how much I loved and trusted him. It didn’t
matter to me where or what we might be doing as long as we were
together on an adventure.
* * * * * * *
Dad and I spent a couple of nights with friends in the suburbs of
Las Vegas. They took us to dinner and gambling with them. Dad gave
me a hundred bucks to gamble, but he told me to make it last the
night. If I lost it the first ten minutes, that was it. He never
asked anything of me he didn’t do himself, and I knew he set
himself a hundred dollar limit. I did better than him. I won
heavily at blackjack.
I ran my hundred into a couple of thousand, and the men of the
casino were getting nervous. They were watching me carefully. They
thought I might be a card counter or figured out how to beat the
system. I wasn’t and didn’t. I was just in a great mood, and I was
winning. Dad was agog. He broke even but laughingly told me he
would never tell me again about gambling.
We had a wonderful time in Vegas. We headed up to Reno and stayed
with some folks who were old biker friends of dads. They rolled
out the red carpet for us, took us to dinner and some shows. It
was all exciting and fun, but I was really looking forward to
getting away with dad into the wilderness. Granddad always told me
to be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.
We finally arrived in Washington state and rode into the small
town of Centerville. It was really small. There was one bar and
grill, two filling stations, a post office, two grocery stores and
a old fashioned, wooden floor drug store with big apothecary jars
in the window, filled with different colored water. When we pulled
into the R.V. camp ground dad looked down the main street and saw
Big Beryl’s bike parked in front of the bar and grill. He told me
to jump out, run get Beryl while he checked into the space rental
office, got us settled, and hooked up. It was a beautiful warm day
in Washington. I took my time enjoying the small town sights as I
walked toward Rosey’s Bar and Grill.
It was dark inside, and I had to wait for a minute for my eyes to
adjust before I could see well enough to look for Beryl. I didn’t
have to wait long, because out of the dim light came two enormous
arms that swept me off my feet into a big bear hug.
“Is that young man old enough?” the woman behind the bar hollered
“He’s old enough for anything you got in mind, Rosey, I
guaran-damn-tee-ya,’” Big Beryl growled at the woman. “What chu’
drinking, Son?” he asked.
“I ain’t much of a drinker, Mr. Beryl, a Coke with some ice would
do me just fine," I replied.
“Give my young friend a Coke, Rosey,” Beryl barked as he pushed
his money on the bar to her.
She smiled, gave me my Coke, and took the money from in front of
Big Beryl. She turned towards the cash register and then turned
back, “Damned if he ain’t the spittin’ image of your buddy what
used to travel with you years ago. What was his name? The big
cowboy— Jess, you remember— Jessie Cassidy?” she asked.
Big Beryl patted me on the back and roared with laughter. “You
wanna’ tell her, Son, or you want me to?” he asked.
“He’s my dad, ma’am. I’m Jessie Cassidy Junior, but everybody
calls me ‘Grub.’ He’s down to the R.V. campground parking our
motor-coach. He sent me to fetch Mr. Beryl,” I replied.
“Well, son of a bitch,” she drawled, “get chore' sweet, young ass
down here to the end of the bar so’s I can give you a hug proper
like,” Rosey demanded. Big Beryl was laughing his ass off, winked
at me, and motioned for me to go to her. I did, and she gave me
one Hell of a hug. I couldn’t breathe for a couple of minutes. She
laughed and kissed me on the cheek. “I used to have the damnedest
crush on yore' daddy. Lordy, was he a fine looking man. Every
woman in these here parts was a’ trying to get into his nickers.
He’d come strolling into the bar – tall good look’n cowboy, and
fifteen women sittin’ at the bar would wet their panties,” she
said. She laughed at her own revelation to me, and laughed harder
when she saw me blush. “And – you know what, Youngster? I do
declare, you’re even better looking than him,” Rosey allowed. Then
she really hooted as I turned beet red. “Well, now you just sit
chore' handsome young ass down there next to that big, ugly old
man and tell me a little about yourself. Don’t you two try to make
for the door. I’ll break both your legs. Your old man will figure
out he has to come get you and Beryl. I’ll treat you three to
dinner right here. I still got me a soft spot in my heart for your
old man – and you? Why, I’d have a tasty young morsel like you for
dessert,” Rosey threw back her head with laughter having a really
great time at my expense.
I loved her immediately. She was a character. Beryl was laughing
his ass off. He had to stand up to get his breath he was laughing
so hard at Rosey. Time passed, and I told Rosey about my mom and
sister. I told her about graduating from high school and helping
dad with the ranch. Just when I was about to run out of things to
tell her, dad walked through the door. He stood for a minute for
his eyes to adjust and found Rosey’s arms thrown around him in a
big hug. They shared a laugh, a couple of tears, a good hug, and a
peck on the cheek. “S’damn good to see you again, Jess. I
threatened them two varmints at the bar I was gonna’ break both
their legs if they tried to make for the door. I knew you’d come
on down here. You wouldn’t come to town and not come see Rosey,”
she said as fact.
“You’re right on all accounts, Sweetheart. You don’t know how good
it is to see you again, my Fair Lady,” Dad said in his most
charming cowboy way.
“You always was the charmer, Jess, but my Lord, what you and your
lovely wife created in this young man is remarkable. You couldn’t
a’ made him no finer looking. I been making the poor lad blush
ever’ five minutes. Come sit down, relax, have a drink, I’m
treating you men to a dinner at Rosey’s. Fine T-bone steaks with
all the trimmings,” she said.
“Ah, Rosey, you’re such a wonder. God love ya, you ain’t changed a
bit. I was worried maybe you had, but it does my old heart good to
see you’re still full of yourself,” Dad said. We all laughed at my
dad’s words of affection for Rosey. We had a great time with her.
She joined us for dinner and let the evening bartender take
over. She had two waitresses who waited on us.
It was a great meal, and the company was fantastic. I learned more
about my dad that evening than I ever knew. I also watched him
respond and interrelate with his peers in front of me, not as my
dad, but as a beloved companion. In essence I felt myself becoming
as Beryl and Rosey, one of his close buddies. Something changed
between us that night. When dad excused himself and went to the
men’s room, I asked Big Beryl about it. I expressed to him and
Rosey my feelings. I had a glass of red wine with dinner, and it
made my tongue a little loose.
“You think this trip is just for you, Son?” Beryl patiently asked.
Rosey smiled and shook her head. She must have been on the same
wavelength as Big Beryl.
“Well, I ain't sure, sir. I never know about my dad. I love him,
and I know he loves me; but, I’m frustrated because he won’t let
me know certain parts of him. I feel like, maybe I’m not good
enough to share those things with him; like, maybe he’s
disappointed with me. He can be mysterious sometimes,” I lamented.
“Indeed, he can, but don’t you never feel your dad don’t think
you’re good enough. Why, I rode with your old man for over a year
before I knew a damn thing about him. Now, today, I know your old
man like the back of my hand. I can almost read his mind. I know,
fer’ damn sure, he can read mine. I can tell ya’ this much – sure
as God made little green apples – he certainly ain’t disappointed
with you. Your old man ain’t one to brag, but I done know'd for a
fact, he’s s’damn proud of you he can hardly contain himself
sometime. I don’t know how many times he’s told me his family is
the only reason he made it through all these years. Now, about
this trip – it serves a couple of purposes.
"Your dad is a remarkable man. It’s your dad’s way of giving you a
rite of passage into manhood, but before he can do that he has to
let go of his little boy. Bringing you on this trip is sort of a
metaphor for your and his relationship as father and son. Don’t
mistake what I’m about to say, Grub. You will always be his son,
his boy, but this trip is about letting go. This trip is to say
goodbye to his little boy, and to welcome his son into his world
as an adult, as his friend and his new buddy in his life. In a
way, it’s ripping his Gotdamn heart out knowing he has to let his
little boy grow up. No father ever wants to see that day come,
especially Jess. He feels deeper about things than most folks, and
for what that man’s been through, s’far's I’m concerned, he has
the right. 'At’s just the way he is. Am I right so far, Rosey?”
Big Beryl asked his companion.
“Dead on, Sweetheart, dead on. You have to keep a part of you back
for him, Son, what will always be his little boy and not be
afraid. You have to let him know, even though you’re now an adult,
there will always be a part of you that will still be his little
boy; no matter how old or successful you get, you’ll always need
him as your dad,” Rosey said.
“Exactly! Well put, darlin. You’re his world, Grub. This trip is
all about letting you grow up, but to do that, he has to take you
to meet some folks who are very special to him. Don’t try to
second guess him, Son. You'll fail. Just trust your old man and
don’t fear anything what may happen. Things may get to seem pretty
strange to you in the next couple of day, but remember, your dad
would die before he placed you in harm’s way. Trust me, you’re
going to learn some things this week that will open the door
what’s been closed to you for so long. Don’t allow it to overwhelm
you. Just take it moment by moment and try your best to
understand. Now, here comes your old man. Not a word about what
was discussed here, understand?" Beryl admonished me.
“Yes, sir. I understand and thanks, Mr. Beryl. You, too, Ms.
Rosey,” I said.
It was a wonderful evening. I had a second glass of wine which
made me feel even closer to my dad. I kept quiet and let the three
of them talk. I would ask a question from time to time until my
eyes got heavy, and I seemed to be nodding off. I couldn't get
them to stay open. Next thing I knew I was leaning on my dad’s
shoulder trying to listen, but my eyes just wouldn’t cooperate.
“You better get him to a bed, Jess. He’s had a big day. I don’t
think he was ready for me,” Rosey laughed.
“You scared the Hell out of me the first time I met you. That’s
just part of your charm, Sweetheart,” dad winked at Rosey, “How
can we ever thank you for your kindness and hospitality, Rose?
It's been a wonderful evening,” Dad said.
“You’re company was payment enough. You know you and Beryl have
always been my favorites, and to get a chance to meet another
charmer like you, well, I don’t get blessed that often. You and
Beryl taking him to meet the folks?” Rosey asked.
“That’s where we’re headed next," Dad confirmed.
“Drop by before you leave town tomorrow. I got some things for
them I want you to take with you. Tell ‘em it’s from me, okay?
They ain’t been down this way in a couple of years. They always
stop by when they do, though,” Rosey said.
Vetoing Rosey’s objections, dad and Beryl left a handsome tip for
the two waitresses. Dad woke me and told me it was time to walk
back to the coach. I hugged and kissed Rosey and the two waitress
goodbye. I apologized for being a cheap drunk. They laughed. I
wasn’t really drunk, but I sure was relaxed. Dad had me get on
behind Big Beryl and told him he’d meet us back at the coach. We
no sooner arrived when a truck pulled up and dad got out. Rosey
gave him a ride. I immediately went into our bedroom, took off my
clothes, showered, and went to bed. Dad stayed up for a while
longer talking with Beryl, then put him to bed in the other room.
I barely remember dad crawling in bed next to me, pulling me into
his arms, and holding me for a minute. I opened my eyes to see him
looking at me with love and pride. It felt like he was looking at
his little boy for the last time with all the love in his heart,
but the eyes that were looking back at him were the eyes of a full
grown man. He kissed me gently on the forehead, told me he loved
me, and wished me a good night. I told him I love him, too, but a
part of me would still be his little boy in the morning. He rolled
over and was silent, then I heard him chuckle to himself. "Damn
that old man!" he said barely above a whisper, then sighed. I
smiled to myself.
* * * * * * *
Dad and Beryl were up at the crack of dawn the next morning and
laughed at me as I dragged my ass into the living room. I sat down
at the table and dad handed me a cup of coffee the way I like it,
blond and sweet. I wasn’t hung over, just a bit groggy from
sleeping so soundly. With two cups of coffee, I was feeling more
alive and awake. We pulled out of the R.V. grounds about six in
the morning. I was sure Rosey’s wouldn’t be open. I was wrong. The
entire town was there having breakfast. Dad and Beryl agreed
to have breakfast, and we grabbed a table near the kitchen. Out
came Rosey with both arms full of orders of food for the folks.
She was as busy as a one legged man at a butt kicking contest.
She had something funny to say to almost everyone. Rosey was on,
holding court at center stage. A big lumberjack of a man at the
counter complained he ordered his eggs scrambled, but they were
sunny side up. Rosey looked down at the plate with a frustrated
look on her face, took her fingers, and scrambled the eggs right
on his plate. “There, Dick. Them eggs is scrambled,” she declared.
The poor man didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.
Rosey threw back her head, roared with laughter, grabbed up his
plate, and took it back to the kitchen to get his order right. She
had everyone in the place rolling on the floor with laughter.
Another man complained his hot cakes were rubbery. She strolled
over to his table, took a good long look at his hot cakes, whipped
one off his plate and slammed it to the floor. “Damned if that
sucker didn’t bounce!” she exclaimed, laughed again, and whisked
his plate away to the kitchen to get him some more hot cakes.
Everyone heard her chastise the cook. “Phil, make Hank some more
hot cakes, but this time don’t add so much of that old latex paint
to the batter,” she yelled. She had the place in stitches.
She took our orders and brought us our food. When we finished and
paid for our breakfast, she had her cook and dishwasher bring out
two big produce boxes and a gunny sack filled with all kinds of
assorted fruit. Everything and anything you might imagine. Dad had
them put it in the other bedroom. It was enough fruit for an army
of people. The spare bedroom smelled like Carmen Miranda’s
headgear on a hot afternoon. Who would eat that much fruit I
wondered? It would make the average man shit like a goose for a
month. Then I remembered Big Beryl’s admonition to me from the
night before to just trust and go along with the flow. I didn’t
say a thing to my dad; however, while he was driving further North
I would catch him glancing over at me from time to time to see if
he could gauge my level of curiosity. I returned his glance one
time and smiled. He knew it meant I would follow him anywhere
without question. I trusted him without reserve. He was satisfied.
* * * * * * *
After about an hour of traveling, Big Beryl pulled his bike off on
a side road. We followed on the dirt road for about five miles or
more. It ran down to a beautiful river. It was the most beautiful
spot on Earth I witnessed to that point. The river was beautiful
and nestled in and among the trees were about fifteen individual
cabins and one great house that looked like a lodge. Dad explained
it was a retreat where folks could come, stay in the cabins, fish
and generally commune with nature. They could hike the trails back
into the woods for several miles to view spectacular scenery. They
also had an R.V. campground with electricity and sewer hook ups.
Dad wasted no time in choosing a space and skillfully backed the
motor-coach into it.
Down the front steps of the big lodge came two fine looking older
men with their arms open wide to greet dad and Big Beryl. There
was hardy handshakes, much hugging, back slapping, and a kiss or
two on the cheek. It was obvious, the gentlemen were thrilled to
see my dad and Beryl again, but they kept looking out the corner
of their eyes at me.
“Al! Frank! I’d like to introduce you to my son, Jessie Junior;
however, he mostly answers to the name ‘Grub,’” Dad said.
Al and Frank looked me over. Al took my hand and pumped it with
both of his. “Aww, Hell, Son, that ain’t gonna’ get it. Gimme’ a
hug,” he commanded. I gave the big man a hug, and I thought he was
going to cry in my arms.
“Damn it! If he gets a hug, so do I. Out of the way, Old Man. Let
your better half have a hug,” Frank said. I hugged Frank, too. He
laughed and whispered to me, “Damn, you look like your old man,
Son. You’re both fine looking men. It's so good to finally meet
you,” he said.
My mind was going in circles. Better half, he called his friend?
Could they be? Ah, who the Hell cared? This far from nowhere and
as friendly as they seemed – fuck it. So, two men love each other,
what of it? Besides, I was with my old man and Big Beryl. I
trusted them completely.
Dad tried to pay the men for the space, but they wouldn’t take his
money. “Are you kidding? After all you done for us over the years.
Take your money and put it were the sun don’t shine, Cowboy,”
Frank told my dad smiling.
I liked the two of them immediately. I didn’t give a shit what
church they belonged to or to what gods they prayed. They were
good men and obviously thought the world of my dad and Big Beryl.
That was good enough for me.
“What are your plans, Gentlemen? You gonna’ stay around here for
the evening or are you gonna’ hike out to visit family right away?
They know Beryl’s here already. They heard his bike. Somehow they
have a sixth sense when someone special’s coming. Well, you know,
Jess. We’re being watched even as we speak,” Al declared.
“Well,” said my dad, “I thought we’d stay here this evening and
tomorrow afternoon hike up to the gorge. I’d like my boy to see
the sun go down from there, and we’ll stay the night,” he said.
The men fell out laughing. “Stay the night?” Al asked doubled over
with laughter, “Hell, if we see you again in three days we’ll be
damn lucky.” Dad and Beryl joined the men in a good laugh. Al
continued, “Well, that sounds like a plan. Have dinner with us,
then you can go your way.”
This was all beginning to be more than a bit mysterious for me,
but I wasn’t about to ask. I remembered big Beryl’s admonition to
me from the night before. What was all this talk about being
watched? Was there some covert government operation being carried
on in these parts? I looked all around. I could see nothing, but I
noticed dad would look off into the distance, then look at Beryl
and wink. Beryl would chuckle and nod his head as if in agreement.
We had dinner with Al and Frank, and my suspicions were confirmed.
They were a bonded couple. They were mates. They weren't overt
about it, but they made no effort to hide the affection that
passed between them. It was deep and genuine. They lived simply
but neatly and were superb cooks. They fixed us a dinner that was,
in their vernacular, “to die for.” I could tell from their
conversation with dad and Beryl, they were a close knit group, and
all four men had strong affection for each other. We talked for
hours about everything. I finally got up enough nerve to ask a
question about something that was bothering me. “Mr. Beryl and my
dad told me they accidentally ran into a family of Bigfoot. I
didn’t believe them at first. I know my dad wouldn’t lie to me,
and after getting to know Mr. Beryl better, I believe he wouldn’t
lie to me either. Have either of you seen any around this area?" I
asked our two gracious hosts.
Both men were silent for a moment, looked at each other, smiled,
and looked to my dad for guidance. I saw my dad barely nod his
head to them. His simple gesture told the men to answer my
question honestly. “Yes, Son, we see them all the time. They lived
around here for thousands of years before us, and the way we’re
going, probably will out last us for thousands more. Unlike us,
they live in perfect harmony with nature. They are peaceful,
sentient, and have a keen sense of right and wrong. They take only
what they can eat or use from the Earth and harm no one unless
provoked. Beyond being just sentient, they’re highly intelligent
and extremely curious. They’re curious about a lot of things.
Within the last thirty years Al and I have been here, they’ve
grown more curious about us as well. They were watching us when
you arrived. There were at least eight that Al and I saw. How many
did you and Beryl count, Jessie?” Al asked.
“About the same, Frank,” my dad answered quietly.
“I only counted six,” Big Beryl allowed.
“How come I didn’t see one?” I asked.
“You don’t know where to look, Son,” Al replied.
“Do you think I might get to see one, Dad?” I asked.
Dad looked at me with a slight grin on his face. “Would you like
to see one, Son?” he asked in reply.
“To actually see an animal most folks think is a myth? You bet I’d
like to see one,” I assured him.
“I’d say your chances are better’n fifty-fifty,” said Big Beryl.
He chuckled and added, “You never know, sometimes you see them and
sometimes you don’t.”
“Just remember, Grub, if we are lucky enough to see one they
aren’t just animals. Like Al said, they are a highly intelligent
and amazing species. They are not human, but you must consider,
we’re animals, too. As you probably learned in school we belong to
the species Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens means, ‘wise ape.’ They
belong to another family of apes several of us like to call ‘Homo
pacificus americaninsis’ or ‘peaceful American ape.’ We believe
strongly, there are other related species yet to be discovered in
other parts of the world and even more relatives left to be
discovered in other parts of our country.
"No matter how thin you slice it, we’re both apes and descended
from a common ancestor. That makes us family – genetic cousins in
a way. We belong to the same subspecies, Mammalian, who suckle
their young. There are only two anatomical differences between
them and us. Human males are the only mammal on our planet without
a bone in the penis and the female of our species is the only
mammal without a free floating sack. All other mammals from
Bigfoot, the great apes to the sperm whale, the males have bones
in their penis and the females have free floating sacks.
"If we should, by chance, run into one, it’s important you not
show them fear. Their sense of smell is a hundred times more
sensitive than ours. Some even speculate they have a greater
facility for smell than dogs. They can smell your fear. They can
tell you’re afraid and will have nothing to do with you. They’re
extremely powerful animals but as peaceful as they are strong.
They react to fear the same way we do. Fear is a built-in
protective response in all animals. The response to fear is
flight. If any animal senses fear in another, they figure if
they’re afraid they should be too, and instinctively run from it.
So do they. If you show them you’re not afraid, and mean them no
harm, they won’t be afraid of you.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from these men, and my dad
seemed to know as much or more about these creatures than the
others. I was impressed, but I wondered why?
After a wonderful evening we said our goodbyes. Beryl, dad, and I
began our short walk back to the motor-coach. All of a sudden, the
most blood curdling scream filled the night air as if it was
surrounding us. It made the flesh crawl up my back, up my spine
into the back of my neck, up my neck to the top of my scalp;
there, it made my scalp crawl away in opposite directions. Was I
scared? No, not at all. It went way beyond scared. I was
terrified. I stopped dead in my tracks, heard my dad laugh, and
Big Beryl chuckle. “What, the Hell, was that?” I managed to get
“I think the question is, who, the Hell, was that?” Big Beryl
My dad smiled but didn’t comment. He just shook his head and
grinned real big. I didn’t say another word, but made an effort to
make a steady pace back to the motor-coach. I was tired and ready
for bed. Dad wanted to stay up and talk with Beryl for a while. I
took off my clothes, showered and got into bed. Through the clear
night air, came another scream that sounded like a woman being
stabbed through the heart with an ice pick. Again chills ran up my
back, and I wondered if this caterwauling was going to continue
all night. How could anyone get any sleep with that racket going
on? I was about to go to sleep when I heard Big Beryl leave the
motor-coach. He was gone for quite a while, but returned as dad
was getting out of the shower.
“It’ll be all right now. I talked with them,” I heard him tell my
dad, “They’re excited you’re here, and can’t wait to see you. I
told them you bought Grub with you. I thought they were gonna’
flip out. They wanted to come down right now with me to the coach,
but I told them we were going to bed.”
Was he talking about Bigfoot? How did my dad know so much about
these creatures? Was he going to take me to meet them? Was he and
Big Beryl friends with them? Was this the family he was going to
introduce me to? My final thought before drifting off to sleep was
a small prayer, “Please, God, help me. Make me strong and don’t
allow me to embarrass my dad no matter who his friends or family
might be.” A voice in my head responded: “If they love your dad,
how bad could they be?”
* * * * * * *
Dad and Big Beryl allowed me to sleep in. There seemed to be no
hurry as we weren’t going hiking into the back country until early
afternoon. Dad got out the chocolate cake mom baked and froze. He
also set out half of the loaves of bread. He set them on the
counter to defrost and then began to pack three hiking backpacks.
When he finished the backpacks weighed about thirty pounds each.
Dad got me up around eight for coffee and some wonderful, fresh,
cinnamon rolls Al baked that morning. They were so good, I pigged
out and had three. The four men sat and talked about us taking off
an hour or so after lunch. Al and Frank had lunch already prepared
“You guys didn’t have to go to that trouble,” Dad said to Al and
“Hesh up, Cowboy!” Frank spoke sternly to my dad, “We fixed it
last night before we went to bed, and it was ready this morning.
You men need a big, heavy meal before you start up to the gorge.
It’s not so long a hike you can’t make it in about three, maybe
four hours, but you have no idea when your next meal might come,
so you need the food. What kind of friends would let you wander
off into the wilderness half starved. ‘Sides, that handsome young
son of yours is still a growing boy. He burns a lot of calories.
He needs a lot of food!” he added. Dad laughed and hugged both
men. He was obviously enjoying being reunited with his old
In their conversation, Al and Frank looked at me in my new levis
and flannel shirt and raised an eyebrow. “Grub, you might wanna’
change into the oldest clothes you brought along. Just take a tip
from two old back packers, after you’ve hiked up to the gorge and
back, you won’t wanna’ take them home with you,” Al told me. Dad
and Big Beryl agreed with him. I looked at dad and noticed he had
on old faded Wranglers, one of his oldest flannel shirts, and an
old rag-tag jacket mother begged him to throw away for years. Big
Beryl was dressed similarly. I went in an found my old work
clothes I kept in the motor-coach in case dad and I needed to do
some emergency repairs. They were pretty worn and tattered in a
few places, but I felt they might work. When I returned to the
living area, the men approved my change of clothes.
Later we went up to the lodge for another meal with Al and Frank.
They weren’t kidding about a heavy meal. They served a big salad.
You could take as much as you wanted and a one dish stew with
everything you could imagine in it. Al called it Frank’s
Slumgullion Stew. It had chicken, beef, pork, and fresh salmon
mixed with all kinds of complimentary vegetables. It was
wonderful. It certainly was filling. During lunch dad talked with
Al and Frank about the fresh fruit Rosey sent and how they were
going to get it to the family. By this time I figured out that
“the family” meant the Bigfoot.
“Leave it with us. We’ll load it on old Bessie May Mucho and hike
up tomorrow morning. It’s getting late in the season. We ain’t got
but one cabin rented, and they’re away on a river rafting
expedition; won’t be back ‘til next Thursday. The old girl needs
some exercise anyway. Hell, all she does is hang around here and
gets fat from everyone feeding her treats. She ain’t afraid of the
folks so she’ll be just fine,” said Al.
“She wouldn’t be s’damn fat if you stopped those early morning
coffee klatches with her and feeding her sticky buns,” Frank
chastised Al. They all laughed.
“Well, at least someone around here appreciates my sticky buns.
After all, love is were you find it, Darlin,’” Al said and grinned
at his mate. My dad and Beryl fell out laughing at the men’s
“I appreciate your sticky buns, Sweetie,” Frank raised an eyebrow,
winked at Al and made him blush. We all laughed. It was obvious
they loved each other very much.
“Who’s Bessie May Mucho?” I asked.
“She’s a wild ass what drifted into our place one day and decided
it was a nice place to call home – what, Frank – about fifteen
years ago?" Al asked his mate.
“More like twenty. Hell, she was here when Jess was stay’n with
us. Right, Jessie?” Frank asked my dad and he nodded in agreement,
“and that’s been over twenty years. It was Jessie what talked her
into staying. Now, we can’t beat her off with a stick,” Frank
“I didn’t have to do too much talking. You guys provided
everything she needed. Hell, why do you think I hung around for
s’damn long?” Dad asked. Al and Frank got a big laugh out of that.
“I guess you’re right, Hon,” Al spoke to Frank, “Damn! Where has
the time gone. It seems like yesterday in my mind. Anyway,
Grub, she’s more of a pet than a pack animal. She’s like a
faithful old dog. We’ve never put a bit or bridle on her; not even
a rope around her neck. We just pack her up, and she knows to
follow us. We take her with us occasionally when we want to go
back packing. If we don’t, she gets so damn fat we’ve considered
making her a poster child for Jenny Craig.” Everyone fell out
laughing at Al.
* * * * * * *
Rites Of Passage ~ “When I was a child, I thought as a
child and spoke as a child. When I became a man, I set aside
my childish ways.”
We were a little late getting on the trail to the gorge. I was
stuffed. I never should’ve had that second helping of apple
cobbler with fresh, homemade, vanilla ice cream, but damn it was
so good. If Al and Frank fed my dad like that all the time no
wonder he stayed around for a while. I’d give it serious
The backpacks dad made up for us were heavy but not overly so. For
three or four hours up a pretty well traveled path it shouldn’t be
a problem. Dad and I hiked with heavier packs. The final addition
was two plastic containers for each of us. One was more of Frank’s
delicious stew, and the other was more apple cobbler. We’d been on
the trail for about an hour, and I thought I saw something move in
the trees just to the left of my vision. I didn’t turn my head,
but centered my attention on my peripheral vision – there it was
“Mr. Beryl, I keep seeing something out of the corner of my eye
moving in the trees about fifty yards to my left,” I said to him.
Big Beryl chuckled. “Oh, yeah. We’re being followed; have been
since we hit the trail. They wouldn’t let nothing happening to us.
How many have you seen, Son?” Big Beryl asked.
“Only the one, sir, and it was quick. Kind of like a fleeting
shadow,” I replied.
“There’s at least five I've counted,” he said.
“Six,” I heard dad interrupt Big Beryl, “three to our left and
three on our right.”
“Why don’t they just come down to us on the trail?” I asked.
“It’s not the way they do things, Son,” Dad explained, “As big as
some of them are, they’re very shy, and they have good reasons to
be. They probably would if it was just Beryl and me, but remember,
I ain’t been here in over twenty years, and you’re new to them.
They’re sizing both of us up. I might have changed in twenty
years. They don't know. They's just exercising caution. Just don’t
be afraid, Grub, you couldn’t be safer if you were with your
“Hell, it ain’t mom I’m worried about, Dad. Of course I’d feel
safe with her. She’s a tigress,” I said and laughed. Dad and Beryl
After the second hour, I was beginning to feel the weight of the
backpack, but I didn’t complain. We seemed to be making good time,
but I didn’t ask how much further it would be. I didn’t want to
give dad the impression I was getting tired. I wasn’t. I was
thoroughly enjoying myself, and the country was beautiful. I
caught a couple more glimpses of some movement of something
reddish-brown in color on my right and again on my left.
The trail kept winding up into the mountains and the higher the
elevation the harder it was to breathe. We took several breaks,
and I was glad Al was thoughtful enough to give us his care
packages of stew and cobbler. I decided to have a bit of both with
some much needed water. Dad and Big Beryl did the same. Al and
Frank were right. Trying this hike on an empty stomach wasn’t a
cool idea. While we were sitting and eating dad kept giving me
directions where to look.
“Don’t try to look right at them,” he advised me, “use your
peripheral vision. Their vision is much better than ours, and they
can see where your eyes are looking. They won’t make a move if
they think you’re looking in their direction. Now, check out about
a hundred yards directly in front of you at your ten o’clock
position,” dad said.
I kept eating looking down into my food, and sure enough I saw
almost a full shot of a humanoid creature move in the brush next
to a large tree.
“See it?” asked Big Beryl.
“Yes, sir, first full shot I got of one. What a magnificent
creature,” I said quietly and continued to eat my stew. Dad and
Beryl laughed, obviously glad I was enthralled by the experience.
“I’ve heard they’re sometime called 'skunk ape.' Is that awful
smell coming from them?” I asked the two men who proceeded to
laugh at my question.
“That’s them, all right,” Big Beryl replied and laughed, “They use
their smell as a defense against large predators like wolves,
bears, and cougars; sort of like a skunk would use its spray to
keep a larger animal from attacking. I’ve seen Grizzlies run from
them because of their smell. They communicate and interrelate
through odor. They repel us by their odor and attract others of
their kind the same way. It’s the way they mark their territories.
If they bond with a human, they expect him to take on their scent.
It’s part of their culture and rituals. To become a part of them
you must smell like them. Don’t worry, Grub, you never get used to
it, but it bothers you less the more you’re around them. Now you
can appreciate why Al advised you to wear old clothing. One thing
they definitely have in common with a skunk is, once you get their
smell on you, there’s no getting it out of your clothes. I don’t
care how many times you wash them or with what brand of soap, you
will never get the tell-tale odor of Sasquatch out of them.”
“For all that, they are very modest,” my dad continued, “Their
hair covers their bodies and private parts so they don’t have to
be afraid of exposing themselves. The first time they saw Beryl
and I bathing naked in the river they turned away in shame and
embarrassment,” Dad said and laughed as he reminded Beryl of the
We finished our snack, loaded back up, and hit the trail again. I
hardly ate any of my stew and just a few bites of my cobbler. I
thought I’d save the rest for an emergency. I noticed dad and Big
Beryl did the same. It was just the right amount of rest we needed
and with renewed vigor we made good time. It took us a little over
three and a half hours to crest the summit of the gorge. Dad and
Big Beryl held back as they let me take the lead to the summit. I
almost ran the last few feet and what I saw before me took my
breath away. “My God in heaven!” I exclaimed. It was all I could
get out and I heard my dad and Beryl chuckling behind me. “How
could any man see this and not wonder if there ain't something
more about the universe we don't understand? Dad, Mr. Beryl, –
thanks for bringing me here. This is truly a once in a lifetime
Dad walked up beside me, put his arm around my shoulder, and
pulled me close to him. He nuzzled me behind my ear with his bushy
mustache and looked out over the vast expanse with me. “It’s
something I always wanted to share with you even before you were
born. I’m glad we took this opportunity to come up here. I know I
don’t tell you very often, Grub, certainly not often enough, but
now seems like as good a time as any to tell you I love you, and
I’m proud of you, Son,” Dad said softly.
“You know I love you, Dad, and I’ll always be here for you,” I
“I know that, Son. That’s part of why I love you. You’ve never
given me a moments doubt you love me. If it weren’t for your love,
your sister, and your mother's love, I never would’ve made it
through the dark times. My family's love sustained me and made me
realize life is two-fold. The bad and the good. My family’s
goodness has made the trip worth while.”
I guess I was overwhelmed buy the beauty and love of the moment
because my eyes started leaking. The next thing I knew dad had his
arms around me holding me, and we were both shedding a few tears.
It was one of the most powerful moments I ever shared with my dad.
There would be several more before our trip was over.
* * * * * * *
Oh, Brother, wherefore art thou?
“Little help over here!” Big Beryl demanded of us. He took off his
backpack and was busy gathering wood for a fire. There was a big,
round, rock fire-pit which was left by other hikers who built it
many years ago. There was even a concrete picnic table with
concrete benches on either side. It was hard for me to imagine
hauling enough concrete all the way up here for a picnic table but
someone did. Dad and I took off our backpacks and I started to
help Beryl gather wood. Pretty soon we had a good pile, and Beryl
started a small fire. It was getting late in the afternoon and the
sun was just before setting.
Meanwhile, dad unpacked some things from the backpacks. He brought
along mom’s cake and was gently unwrapping it. He carefully cut it
into small pieces and left it sitting on the end of the table.
Then he started manufacturing peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.
Beryl and I joined him to set up an assembly line operation and
before long we made thirty sandwiches and piled up along the front
side of the table. Dad packed two jars of peanut butter and one
jar of jelly in each backpack. He included two loaves of bread in
each backpack as well. When we finished we had a little over fifty
sandwiches prepared. Dad was pleased. Then he brought out several
pieces of fruit and placed them on the other end of the table.
Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, plums, and a box of fresh
strawberries. The table looked like Belshazzar’s feast. Then he
covered the whole thing with an old sheet he’d borrowed from Al
Dad always carried with him a hip flash of Southern Comfort. He
would laugh and tell everyone it was medicinal. He got laughed at
a lot, too. As the sun began to set in the West the colors of the
canyon and mountains took on an entirely new perspective. It was
like watching a graphics art show on T.V., but it was right in
front of me. It could be smelled, felt, and touched. It touched me
in return. God must have known we were coming because he made that
particular sunset a memorable one. All the colors of the rainbow
and then some were represented in the vast panoply of nature. A
phrase kept running through my head, “God’s in his heaven, all’s
right with the world.” Surely, at that moment, in the continuum of
time and space, in this place, all was right with the world. I was
only to appreciate that phrase more as the evening wore on.
Dad got out his hip flask, took a pull on it and passed it to
Beryl. Big Beryl took his pull from the flask and handed it to me.
I handed it back to my dad.
“Naw, you’re a man now, Son. Time you joined the men. Take
yourself a good swallow of comfort. I have a feeling you’re going
to need it,” dad said with mischief in his voice. Beryl was
sitting next to me and couldn’t stop laughing. Dad smiled as I
took a goodly pull from the flask and made an awful face. It was
sweet and had a good taste, but my God, it burned all the way
down. I swore my damn toenails curled back on themselves. Whew!
“Holy crap, Dad,” I declared as I shook my head, “You’re right. It
has to be medicinal. What don’t kill me’s gotta’ cure me, right?”
I asked. Dad and Beryl got a good laugh out of that. I will have
to say it did mellow me out a bit, and my dad was right again. It
was probably just what I needed for what was to come.
After the sun went down we sat on a huge log in front of the fire
talking softly about nothing in particular; of nothing in
particular at all. I thought every now and then I could catch a
glimpse of some movement, but I couldn’t be sure. All I knew was
the smell was becoming overpowering. It was getting stronger by
the minute. Somehow though, it wasn’t as repulsive as it was the
first time I got a whiff of it. It reminded me of the time our dog
got sprayed by a skunk. It became my job to bath him in tomato
juice, and then, a good hot pine-sol bath. He stunk like a skunk,
and in turn, I got it all over me. After a while it wasn’t so bad.
It still stunk to high heaven, but it must have burned out certain
olfactory nerves in my nose because in time it became less
difficult to bear. However, for months afterwards, Barney still
had the faint lingering odor of skunk musk.
“Here, Sprout,” Dad handed me his hip flask one more time, “take
another good pull,” he said. I did and handed it back to him in
anguish. He took another and handed it to Big Beryl. Beryl took a
hit and past it back to dad.
“‘Bout time to start the evening festivities, Jess?” Beryl
stretched, and yawned like it was the most natural thing in the
world to ask.
“Yeah, I think so, old friend. I want to try something first. I
wonder if he’ll remember," Dad said quietly.
“Are you kidding?” Beryl challenged my dad with a smile.
Dad leaned back and started to whistle in loud, pure tones. Dad
was a great whistler and had perfect intonation. He started
whistling, “On top of old smokey, all covered with snow. . .” and
stopped. He waited. Nothing. Then he tried again, “On top of old
smokey, all covered with snow. . . ” and stopped. This time from
the trees came a perfectly intoned, whistled response, “I lost my
true lover from courting to slow.” I was shattered. No one told me
they could whistle and in perfect tune. Dad rose slowly from the
log where we were setting.
“Grub?” he spoke softly as a question into the forest trees as if
the name was sacred to him. I thought he was talking to me, but I
caught big Beryl’s eye and saw him shake his head. Less than ten
feet from us appeared a huge creature about eight and a half feet
tall. It was almost like he appeared out of no where. Suddenly he
was right there before us. I was stunned not only by his size but
his beauty. He had the most expressive golden eyes, and I was sure
I saw them glisten with moisture. He slowly raised his huge arms,
and opened them to my dad. Dad didn’t hesitate and was in the huge
creature’s arms in a second. I watched as my dad cried like a baby
in the big creature’s arms. It stroked my dad’s head and sang to
him in a deep rumbling tone, which, for lack of a better
description, was in tune with the human soul. You didn’t need
words to know, he was singing comfort and welcome to my dad.
I began to see more and more of the creatures appear. I was almost
overwhelmed. There must have been twenty-five or thirty of them.
Huge male adults, females and young. Some of the young were not
more than three to five feet tall and stayed behind their adult
parents. There was one huge male almost a head taller than the one
dad called ‘Grub.’ He was massive and enormous. He had to be ten
feet tall and was huge all over. Dad finally pulled away from the
big creature and tickled him on his belly. It laughed. My God, it
laughed. It sounded for all the world like human laughter.
“My God, look at you!” My dad exclaimed and spoke to the big
creature, “You’re huge! You are your dad’s son all right,” he
said. The big creature had a big, shy smile on his face. Dad
turned to me and motioned with his hand for me to join him. “Come
here, Son. I want you to meet your brother and namesake, Grub. I
want you to meet my other son, Grub,” Dad said.
I looked into the big creatures eyes and could only see deep
affection. He gently took my hand and pulled me into him. I threw
my arms around him and almost wet my pants. (They probably
would’ve loved that.) I couldn’t imagine seeing one of these
illusive creatures, and now here I was embracing one in what had
to be a loving gesture. “Me, Grub,” It softly spoke to me. Oh,
shit! No one told me they could speak either. I almost shit my
pants right there.
“Me, Grub, too,” I told him softly and hung on for dear life as I
felt it ever so gently caress my hair and head. I couldn’t have
gotten away if I wanted to, but the funny thing was, as fast as my
heart was beating, I didn’t want to get away. How many folks ever
get to see a Bigfoot, let alone be embraced by one? He stank like
a cesspool, but at that point my other senses were over-riding my
negative olfactory response.
Holy smokes, my heart was pounding a mile a minute in excitement,
and then, I not only heard but felt his song to me from the bottom
of his soul into mine. He rumbled on and sang to me as he caressed
and held me until I could feel my heart begin to stop racing.
Finally, I could feel his heart beating in perfect sync with mine.
Our hearts literally beat as one.
A sense of awe and calm came over me I can’t put into words. It
was remarkable to say the least. It was one of the most wonderful
and certainly one of the most powerful experiences of my life. It
changed my life right then and there. I grew up in that big
creatures arms. In the arms of my beloved brother whom I never met
before, I saw a vision. I saw a vision of what I must do with my
life. There was no room for doubt.
Then I heard him say, “Grub, love little brother, Grub.”
Without hesitation I replied, “I love my big bother, Grub, too.”
Then I lost it. I was so touched by his generosity of spirit I
started crying, and once again he sang his song of comfort and
welcome to me. I couldn’t let go I was so moved and touched.
Finally, I felt my dad’s hand on my shoulder, and Grub released me
into his arms.
I cried in my dad’s arms. He chuckled and comforted me. “There’s
more of the family for you to meet,” Dad said. Grub stepped aside,
and I got a good look at the monster behind him. One look in his
eyes told me he wasn’t a monster at all but a highly intelligent,
sensitive creature capable of great love.
Dad addressed the huge Sasquatch. “Tank, I promised you, one day I
would bring my son to give to you so we might share both. This is
my son. He carries my name, but I call him Grub after our other
son. I would only share him with you if I was sure he has a
faithful spirit. He is strong and brave. I'm proud of him, and
feel he's worthy to be your son. He is good in his heart, and has
no fear,” Dad told the huge beast before me.
The giant creature opened his arms to me, and I went to embrace
him. Just before I did I watched one tear rolled down the fur on
his face. I spoke to him. “Grub proud to be Tank’s son,” I said.
He must have understood every word because he held me tighter and
petted me all the more. Then as his son did, he sang to me. It was
the most relaxing feeling that came over me. He didn’t bother with
words. He didn’t have to. He went straight for my heart and sang
his song to my soul. I lost it again, and started crying when I
heard him rumble in a deep bass voice. I held him tighter.
“Son, Grub, easy to see. Look like other dad,” he said. I realized
he was telling me he thought I was good looking. I don’t know how
long we stood there, but I was in no hurry to part company. I
never felt safer in my life than in Grub or Tank’s arms. I felt
either would lay down their lives before they hurt me or allowed
me to be hurt. Tank was big Grub’s father, and now he was my
other dad. How lucky can one kid get? I already had a wonderful
man for my natural father, and now I had a being, a giant
creature, my genetic cousin, for my second dad.
My dad knew what he was doing. He brought me on this trip knowing
this was the end of my childhood, and now was my time to accept my
role of responsibility as an adult. What better way than to
introduce me to his extended family. I could only wish he did it
sooner. I tried to imagine growing up amidst such wonderful,
loving creatures. As the evening went on, I was introduced to
Tank’s mate, Dora. They are monogamous and mate for life. I met
Tank’s second in the family. His name was Hogan. Dad named him
after Hulk Hogan because he was big and always preening himself. I
meet Sally, Grub’s sister, and several other grown children. They
all shyly took my hand, but didn’t embrace me. There were
thirty-two in all.
Dad moved to the table and removed the cloth. There were sighs
from the folks. He indicated for them to help themselves. I
thought it would be mayhem, but it wasn’t. They were very orderly,
and only took as much as they could carry in their hands. After
everyone went through the line there was still food left, and dad
offered anyone who wanted more to help themselves. Tank said
something to the young ones, and they were the first in line for
more. Dad and Big Beryl gave them anything they wanted until it
was all gone. I was amazed. I thought there might be in-fighting,
pushing, and shoving, and hoarding of the goodies. There was
nothing like that. The older shared with the younger, and siblings
shared with each other. Mom’s cake was like gold to them. Even
though dad tried to slice as many pieces as he could it’s hard to
make thirty-two pieces out of an average size cake. It didn’t seem
to bother them. They seemed grateful for the treat, and shared
even the smallest morsels with each other so they all got a taste.
Dad told Tank and Dora that Martha, his wife, made the cake and
sent it to them. Tank wanted to know if I was the child she was
carrying when they visited many years ago. Dad pulled out his
wallet, and showed them my sister’s picture. Everyone had to see
and oohed and aahed over a photo of my mom and sister. They were
very careful with it, and returned it to my dad with reverence. I
was becoming enchanted by these creatures. Tank would have nothing
but I sit next to him. I did, even though his smell was enough to
gag a maggot. However, to my credit I was getting more use to it.
I noticed they would sit well away from the fire. Later, dad told
me they’re afraid of fire because of the destruction they
experience from natural fires. They haven’t yet learned fire can
be controlled for their warmth and protection. Dad isn’t real sure
how much they should be taught about our ways. They seem to be
doing just fine without our help.
I had to laugh when I brought Tank and Dora a peanut butter and
jelly sandwich. Dora slowly ate hers, but Tank put the entire
sandwich in his mouth as if it were a cookie. He really enjoyed
it. It seems peanut butter is one of their favorite of our foods.
It was funny to watch him eat it because it would stick to the
roof of his mouth, and he would make funny faces trying to get it
off with his tongue. He reminded me of our dog Barney when I gave
him a taste of peanut butter. It would stick to the roof of his
mouth, and he would lick and lick to get it off.
The young ones played around the outer perimeters of the group,
and once in a while an adult would scold one. It would immediately
stop its play and go to its parent. From time to time Tank put his
big arm around me and pulled me close to him. It was hard to
imagine a creature as big as Tank could be so gentle and show
genuine affection. I was amazed by the whole evening. Dad came and
set beside me to talk. “What do you think of your new family,
Son?” he asked and smiled.
“I couldn't be more pleased. I couldn’t wish for better, Dad. I’m
truly overwhelmed and happy. These folks are not at all what I
might have imagined them to be. The name you gave them as
“peaceful” certainly is apt. I’ve never felt such love from anyone
anywhere except from my immediate family,” I replied.
“I hoped you would like them. I fell in love with them many years
ago, and I’m sad I didn’t make a greater effort to return more
times to see them; however, I’ve had a running battle within
myself over whether it’s a good or bad thing to intermingle with
them. Will they learn bad things from us? If we intermingle too
much, will it make them less shy and contribute to their downfall?
Beryl has had more contact with them over the years than I have.
Al and Frank come to visit with them regularly, but won’t allow
them to come around the campgrounds or lodge during tourist season
for their own safety.
“During the off season, during the winter, they come to Al and
Frank’s back door and knock if they really need something. Al and
Frank have saved several of their lives when they were desperate
and didn’t know what to do. During the harshest winters they’ve
provided them with food. There’s a number of people who help them
out. Rosey and a half dozen folks in Centerville help them from
time to time. They usually don’t get that far south. Once in a
while, during the winter, Rosey and a couple of folks from
Centerville will drive up with a truck load of food.
There’s a retired veterinarian who lives not far from Al and
Frank, and they got him involved a number of years ago. He stays
at the lodge regularly during the winter just to be available for
them if they need him. You should hear the funny story Frank tells
of the Vet when they first ask him to doctor a Sasquatch. All the
while he’s explaining to Al and Frank the inconceivable stupidity
of such a notion that there could be the slightest thread of truth
to the Bigfoot legends, Tank, Dora, Grub, and his two sisters
quietly slipped into the room and were standing behind him. He
sniffed the air and asked Al and Frank, “What’s that awful smell?
You guy’s cesspool back up?” Al and Frank were about to burst from
held back laughter, and indicated for him to turn around. He
turned around and fainted. When they brought him to, he couldn’t
believe they were still there.
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! They’re real!” was all he could say.
After he finally calmed down, he took care of the child with no
problem. He was a professional, and that was his job. Fortunately,
he takes his job seriously. The family love and cherish Al, Frank,
and the Vet. His name is J. B. Brown and he’s a good man. He was
the one who came up with the technical name for them after a
conversation with Beryl and I over dinner one evening.
“How did you get involved with them, Dad?” I asked.
“Well, that’s one of the stories of my past I been meaning to tell
you. I was afraid if I told you without proof you'd always be
suspect I might be blowing smoke up your ass. I suppose now is as
good a time as any, because if I leave anything out or don’t tell
it right, I’m sure I’ll be corrected,” he said, laughed, and
winked at Big Grub.
* * * * * * *
Jessie’s Story ~
“We are but sojourners here for a while. Where we pass, time
will erase our footprints, but good or bad, nothing may stop the
momentum of our actions. We make the future happen. The choices
are ours.”~ Buckminster Fuller
“When I returned from Nam I didn’t fit in anywhere. I couldn’t
keep a regular nine to five job. I was a mess. The government
didn’t offer any counseling for returning vets. They would if you
went to VA and actually requested it, but most didn’t know they
had the option and stayed as far away from anything that smacked
of government or military as possible. I thought I could outrun
the pain of what I went through in Nam, but I couldn’t. I saw
horrors no man should ever have to live through, Son. I was a Navy
field corpsman attached to the first cavalry division, and I lived
every day in fear and horror. I tried to do the best I could for
the wounded, but there were just too damn many – we had so little
"I got separated from my outfit twice behind enemy lines because I
stayed behind after the last evac chopper left the area. Later,
I’ll tell you some of the things I went through. I never wanted to
tell you when you were younger, because it ain’t something a kid
needs to grow up with. I’ve sheltered you from it, because I
wanted you to grow up without the thoughts of what I went through.
Every man wants a better life for his children. You grew up to be
a fine young man, of whom, I’m very proud. I meant what I said to
Tank about you. Now, I feel you can handle a little of what I’ve
kept secret from you all these years.
"The story of my involvement with this family is a direct result
of my years in Nam. I returned, and was riding with Beryl and his
extended biker family. We rode up to this area several times, and
stayed with Al and Frank. We helped them with any large project
they might have and stayed in the lodge. Sometimes there was as
many as fifteen or twenty of us. Over a period of several summers
we built all but three of the cabins. We never hung around after
August because the cold weather set in, and it wasn’t much fun
riding a bike, especially with snow on the ground.
"One August, somewhat like this, I wasn’t in the mood to go South
with the family. I asked Al and Frank if I could stay the winter
with them and help out around the place. They were thrilled to
have me, and it worked out great. Never ate better in my life nor
had better companions than Al and Frank. They treated me with
respect, gave me my privacy, and I gave them theirs. Didn’t mean
we couldn’t laugh and giggle at some of their crazy antics.
"Al and Frank told me about the family, but I didn’t believe them.
Even though they were serious, I thought they were bullshit’n me.
I will have to say, ever’ now and then, I saw something move
through the woods I couldn’t quite make out or understand. Anyway,
in the spring of that year I’d been to Centerville for the weekend
on my bike. I spent most of my time at Rosey’s having a good time.
I made it a rule never to ride my bike unless I was stone-cold
sober. I’d seen too many bikers get wiped out because they had too
much to drink, and their reaction time was impaired.
"I left Rosey’s on a Sunday afternoon, and noticed clouds
gathering in the North. I kept a pretty close eye on the weather
forecast, but this seemed to be a freak storm that just came out
of nowhere. As you know, it’s about an hour’s ride to Al and
Frank’s, so I began to pick up speed. The last thing I wanted was
to be caught and have to ride through some hellacious storm. I
always carried my rain gear in my saddle bags, but I didn’t want
to stop long enough to get it out. I really wanted to beat the
storm. Well, to make a long story shorter, I didn’t beat the
storm, and about five miles from the turn off to their place the
bottom dropped out. It began raining, sleeting, and hailing all at
the same time. I mean, it was raining so hard I could barely see
beyond my handle bars.
"It was the most scared I’d ever been on my bike. The rain started
mixing with the sleet and hail to coat the back top with ice, and
it became more difficult to handle the bike. I kept thinking if I
just hung in there, the turn off to their place would soon appear.
The next thing I knew my back wheel was trying to go faster than
my front, and I went into a skid. I hit the shoulder of the road,
and went ass over teakettle down the embankment into the brush and
slammed into a tree. It broke both my legs, my right arm, and a
branch from a bush somehow got stuck into my side. I was bleeding
pretty bad from the wound.
"I passed out, and didn’t come to until it started to lightly rain
again. I couldn’t move, but started to cry out for help. It
suddenly struck me as funny, because there wasn’t anyone for miles
around to hear me, and yet, here I was calling for help. ‘Who was
I calling to?’ I thought. I lay there and started to cry in
frustration. I was angry at myself for not planning things better.
I could’ve stayed over at Rosey’s and started out later. Rosey
always had a room for me if I wanted. She never required anything
of me but my friendship and a little help around the place.
"I began to think about dying and how it was gonna’ feel. I
thought how ironic it was, I survived four years of absolute Hell
in Nam, got shot up, and sent home; yet, here I was, about to die
in a ditch. I kept crying out until it began to get dark. I knew
when it got dark, and started getting colder, I would die of
hyperthermia. I got to thinking that wouldn’t be so bad. I’d just
get sleepy, go to sleep and die; an easy enough way to go. It was
certainly a better way to go surrounded by the peacefulness and
beauty of nature than on a battlefield in Nam. I was beginning to
resign myself to the idea, and started to look forward to it. I
convinced myself I was beginning to feel drowsy.
"That’s when I got a whiff of the most awful smell. It kept
getting closer and closer. I wasn’t afraid, but I could hear
something moving in the forest. I cried out again hoping it was a
hunter or a kid going through the woods. There was no response,
and I started to cry again. I closed my eyes, but when I opened
them I was staring into two of the most beautiful, reddish, golden
eyes I’d ever seen, but my God, they were in the head of a
monster. I jumped and cried out from the pain. He moved back. Then
I laughed, because here I was face to face with a Bigfoot, and I
couldn’t move. Suddenly, he laughed, too. My fear of him vanished.
I looked him in the eyes and spoke to him. “Damn, you’re bigger
than a Sherman tank,” I told him, ”Well, Tank, old fellow, if
you’re gonna’ kill me, do it quickly and get it over with. Don’t
let me lie here and suffer, Big Guy.”
"He leaned over me again, and I could’ve sworn I heard him say,
“Tank, no kill!” With that he picked me up, and started off
through the woods carrying me. The pain was unbearable, and I
wished several times he would just kill me. He didn’t. I passed
out from loss of blood and the pain. He carried me to Al and
Frank’s front porch, and let out a scream that immediately got Al
and Frank’s attention. They came running out of the lodge only to
find me lying on their porch broken and bleeding. They put me in
the back of their Bronco, and rushed me to the small hospital in
the larger town twenty miles North of here.
"The doctor’s didn’t know how I made it through. I lost so much
blood they didn’t think I’d live through the night. They patched
me up, and kept me doped up for several days. While I was in my
haze, I remembered being carried through the woods. I would open
my eyes and see Tank’s eyes looking down at me with all the
concern of a parent for a small child. I could remember my ear
pressed against his foul smelling chest and hearing his big heart
pumping overtime as he hurried through the woods. I could remember
his song to me as he ran. It needed no words. As I lay in his huge
arms, I realized his song was sustaining me. I wanted to die and
leave my body, but he wouldn’t let me. He kept me inside my body.
He comforted me with his song, and the further we went the less
pain I felt. It was as if he anesthetized my entire body with his
song. Well, he sang to you tonight, and Grub sang to you. I know
you understand what I’m talking about,” Dad said.
“I do, Dad. I understand completely. It was the most remarkable
experience of my life,” I replied.
“I’ve told people, but few believe me. Unless you’ve experienced
it, it’s hard to believe. I don’t know whether I’d believe a story
like mine if I heard it from a stranger. They asked me in the
hospital how I came to be on Al and Frank’s front porch, and why I
smelled so bad. Did I fall into a sewer? I laughed and told them
they wouldn’t believe me if I told them. Surprisingly, several
folks did believe me. The doctors didn’t, but two of the nurses
were American Indians from a local tribe. They believed me because
they knew of the Sasquatch and knew of their unique odor. They
were the ones who cleaned me. Al and Frank believed me because
they saw Tank and his family many times. They saw Tank running
away into the trees when they found me on the porch.
"After I got out of the hospital Beryl rode up to be with me and
help Al and Frank take care of me. He went out several times with
Al and Frank trying to find my bike. They followed Beryl in their
truck as he walked along the side of the road looking into the
forest for any sign of it. They never found a thing until one
afternoon Beryl was returning from Rosey’s, and saw a giant,
ape-like man standing in the middle of the road. Beryl slammed on
his brakes, and watched as the creature ran down the embankment.
He stopped his bike and watched as he saw the big fellow move a
lot of brush and undergrowth to reveal my bike. They hid my bike
"Beryl rushed home to tell Al and Frank, and couldn’t get his
story out fast enough. They jumped in the truck, returned to the
spot, and managed to wrestle my bike to the road. It was hardly
damaged, and Beryl started it right up. He followed Al and Frank
back to the lodge, and parked my bike in their shed. Not only did
Tank save my life, he hid my bike so no one would find it. Now,
any creature, no matter how big, how bad he appears, or how foul
he smells will do that for some other creature he doesn’t know,
can’t be all bad. He certainly deserved my gratitude and
appreciation, perhaps even my affection,” Dad said.
“Mine, too, Dad, otherwise I wouldn’t be here right now,” I
Tank leaned over to me and spoke softly. “Dad, talk too much,” he
said. Tank made a joke. I could see the mischief in his eyes as I
laughed. My dad almost fell off the log laughing. Then Tank
laughed and held me tighter. And you know what? I don’t know if I
was getting use to him, but Tank didn’t smell so bad anymore.
“They understand a lot more than we give them credit for, Son. I
have a feeling Tank and Grub have learned a lot of our words over
the last twenty years. I have to be more careful with my words.
However, everything I’ve told you is the truth,” Dad said.
Tank nodded his big head and added, “Truth. Jess tell truth to my
son, Little Grub,” he said in his deep voice. I almost lost it
when Tank called me his son. Dad just beamed with pride. I could
see big Beryl out of the corner of my eye laughing his ass off. He
was following every word of our conversation.
Dad continued his story, “Anyway, I ended up spending the next two
years or so with Al and Frank. It took me about six months to
completely recover, and no two people could’ve been better to me.
They did everything, and God love ‘em, I let them. I still love
them very much to this day. Beryl came up to visit as often as he
could, and we enjoyed his visits. I got to where I could get
around and started taking hikes into the woods to build up my
strength. I wasn’t the least bit scared anymore. I always had a
sense I was being watched over. I always took a light backpack
with me on my walks. I’d make a sandwich, carry a bottle of water,
and my first aid kit. For years after Nam, I carried a full field
kit with me almost everywhere I went, especially when I went
hiking. It became my security blanket.
"As you know, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and every
other sandwich I’d take with me was peanut butter and jelly. One
afternoon I stopped to have my sandwich and some water. I laid my
sandwich down on a log, ‘cause I had to take a leak. When I
finished, I turned around, and my sandwich was gone. I looked
everywhere for it, but I couldn’t find it. I never heard a
footstep or the scurrying of any critter what might have taken it.
However, there was a faint lingering odor of Sasquatch in the air.
Several days later the same damn thing happened. I would turn my
back for a couple of minutes, and my peanut butter sandwich would
be gone. I knew it couldn’t be a small critter, it would leave
tracks, or I would hear it. Still I would smell the lingering odor
of Sasquatch. My suspicions were aroused. After it happened the
third time I decided, to Hell with it, I’d just pack a couple of
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I did that for weeks, and
every damn time the sandwich would be gone. Finally, one day I
just set it on the log next to me, and opened mine to eat. I spoke
in a normal tone of voice and said, “All right, I got your
sandwich waiting for you, here, but if you want it you have to
come sit beside me and eat it.”
"I started eating my sandwich, and turned to see a small Sasquatch
about four feet tall slowly approaching. I smiled at him, picked
up the sandwich, and handed it to him. I thought he’d bolt for the
bushes to eat it, but he didn’t. He came around, joined me on the
log, and ate his sandwich with me. He was really grubby, even by
Sasquatch standards, so I named him Grub. That went on for a
couple of months. As time went by, he would sometimes join me on
my walks. Once in a while, he scared the crap out of me, he'd
smile real big, and I'd just laugh. It was like he would appear
out of nowhere and then follow me down the trail like a puppy. We
would stop, have our sandwich, and I would talk to him. He seemed
to listen, but of course, never responded. I didn’t think he
could. I didn’t know they were capable of speech as we know it.
Many times I would pack some fruit for him and me. He especially
liked apples and bananas. I had to show him how to peal a banana.
He never saw one before. I began to call him ‘Grub,’ and he would
respond to his name.
"I told Al and Frank about my new friend, and they were astounded.
I told Beryl, and he was amazed. Beryl knew me well enough to know
I wouldn’t lie to him. One day I asked Beryl if he wanted to take
a hike with me. He agreed, and we set out on the trail. I thought
we wouldn’t see Grub ‘cause Beryl was with me, but I packed an
extra sandwich and a piece of fruit just in case. Sure enough,
after we were on the trail for a mile or two, out pops Grub from
behind a tree. I introduced him to Beryl. He looked Beryl up and
down and decided, if he was a friend of mine, he must be okay.
Beryl was amused by it all, and kept giggling like a school boy.
He even got Grub and me giggling until we were all laughing.
"We sat down and had our sandwiches and fruit. Grub sat between
us. Beryl and I talked like nothing was unusual. What was unusual
about it? Two friends were taking a walk in the woods, and were
joined by another. The small one was a bit more furry than the two
big ones, but what was strange about that? Beryl didn’t want his
banana, and gave it to Grub. I thought he’d bolt it down, but he
didn’t. He carried it with him until we told him goodbye, and
later, I found out he carried it home to his little sister. Beryl
joined me for a week, and Grub would meet us in a different place
every time. We would greet him like we were really happy to see
him, and he’d just smile real big. One afternoon I was telling
Beryl the story of my accident and about the huge Sasquatch who
saved my life. “Beryl, you wouldn’t believe it,” I told him, “he
was ten feet if he was an inch.”
“Sounds like the same fellow who showed me where your bike was. He
had to be at least that tall,” Beryl said.
“He looked like a Sherman tank, so I called him ‘Tank.’ He even
laughed at me for calling him that,” I told Beryl. He and I were
Suddenly we heard a voice between us. “Tank, my dad,” Grub said.
Beryl looked at me and I looked back. Our mouths dropped open. We
had no idea Grub could talk.
“Grub, we didn’t know you could talk. Why haven’t you said
something before now?” I asked.
“You talk. Grub listen,” he replied. The perfect squelch from a
pint-sized Sasquatch. Beryl and I were so tickled we started
laughing and couldn’t stop. We got Grub laughing, and had a great
time. That was all we got out of him the rest of the day and for
several days after. Beryl and I made a pact we wouldn’t try to
draw him into conversation. If he wasn’t comfortable speaking, we
wouldn’t try to make him. Besides, he had a way of letting us know
exactly what he wanted. He knew he could get anything he wanted
out of us, but we didn’t care. Beryl and I fell in love with him.
He may have been God’s grubbiest creature, but to us, he was the
Creator's finest hour. We couldn’t talk about anything else. About
a week later it seemed Grub wanted to talk again. He told me he
was glad I got better from my accident, because his dad told him
he thought I was a good man. Grub told me it wasn’t Tank who found
me. It was him.
“Tank is your dad, Grub?” I asked him. He nodded his head.
“Grub find you. Get dad,” he said, like it was common knowledge
and no big whoop.
“Well, then, I owe you and your dad my life, Grub, and I want to
thank you for that. Would you tell your dad I will be forever in
his debt, and I appreciate what he did for me? Tell him I hope to
meet him face to face again someday to thank him myself,” I told
“Tank, know,” Grub said.
“How could Tank know?” I asked him.
“Tank with Grub all time,” he replied.
“You mean he’s watching and listening to us right now?” I looked
at Beryl, and he looked as puzzled as I was.
“Where is he? We can’t see him,” Beryl asked gently.
Grub only responded by pointing to his conical shaped head with
one digit. Beryl looked at me and slowly shook his head. I didn’t
know if Grub was being cute or evasive. The other thought running
through my mine was inconceivable. Beryl saw the look of dismay on
my face and grinned. He read my thought, shrugged, and I read his.
(Is it so inconceivable they might communicate telepathically?) In
a smaller way Beryl and I just did. Is it our vanity that
precludes us thinking a creature we first observe as being way
behind us on the evolutionary scale might have developed talents
we haven’t? Or worse, we once shared the ability, and lost it when
we began to develop tools and technology.
Or perhaps the most shattering to our civilization, we lost it
when we invented religion. Think about it. Why would you need
religion to assuage your fears of death or prepare you for an
after life if consciously you were immortal? If you knew, without
a doubt, your spirit and memories lived on in your progeny after
your physical body runs out of steam, why invent a crutch? In a
similar way, isn’t that why we strive to have families, to leave
something of ourselves behind; to know our linage will be passed
down? In essence we leave something of ourselves behind.
Given, man is an animal, is it mankind’s way of marking the cosmos
with his scent?
“He hears your head, and you hear his?” I asked quietly not
knowing if I was prepared for the answer. Grub went on eating his
apple but nodded his head.
“Can you hear Beryl and Jess, Grub?” I asked what I thought was
the next logical question.
“Not try. Jess and Beryl’s head talk too much,” he said almost
like the thought disgusted him. He got me again. I was stunned,
but Beryl thought that was the funniest come back since Abbott and
Costello. He got me and Grub laughing. Then we heard it. We heard
Tank’s unmistakable scream. Grub smiled. Beryl and I looked at
each other, and there was no doubt in our minds Tank was putting
the period at the end of the sentence. He just confirmed what his
son, his child, told us.”
“Dad, are you telling me...?”
“Yes, I certainly am. It took Beryl and I time to adjust and
understand, believe me, but they proved it to us over and over
again. Why do you think they can speak but haven’t bothered to
develop language? They don’t need it. Believe it or not they feel
sorry for us because we’re so alone in our heads. Tank and Grub
sensed that about me from the beginning. They could see, yet
unwittingly share what terrors I went through in Nam, and it
devastated them. They even ask me onetime, not to think about such
terrible things. It made them sad. However, to go one more
miraculous step further, if it weren’t for Tank, Grub, and their
family, I never would’ve recovered enough from Nam to have a
family of my own, which I suppose, makes them even closer to you
family-wise,” Dad said.
Tank reached over and gently rubbed the hair on my dad’s hair with
obvious affection. Grub was sitting by big Beryl, but got up and
sat down next to my dad. Grub put his arm around him, dad leaned
into Grub, and let himself indulge in the affection from his
friend. I have never seen my dad more radiant or happy than he was
at that moment. He just proved to me Grub knew his friend reached
a sore point telling his son about the horrors he lived through;
horrors, Tank and Grub already experience all too vividly. This
was almost too much for me to take in.
It was like the lonely, troubled, but wonderful man who I grew up
knowing as my dad was suddenly being replaced by this awesome
figure of a man. A man who lived in several worlds unknown to
almost everyone who knew him, and somehow managed to pull a rabbit
out of the hat of his despair.
I leaned even closer into tank’s embrace, and felt him take his
huge hand and gently caress my head as if to tell me it was all
right. This was a story I needed to hear, to know, understand, and
appreciate the depths of my dad’s sorrow. My admiration and love
for my dad multiplied ten fold in one evening, and I was staggered
with the knowledge of what he went through. Dad sighed, leaned
back, and relaxed against Grub’s huge chest and continued.
“The only other people we shared our knowledge with was Al and
Frank. Fortunately, they believed us and couldn’t wait for our
return everyday to hear the latest revelation. Usually, we made
them wait because it made for great, entertaining conversation
over dinner. The four of us reveled in the thought that we were
the only ones who knew these things about our forest brothers.
Later we came to find out we weren’t alone, that many others knew,
and became as protective or more so than us.
"Beryl stayed with us all that summer. He was as enchanted by our
little buddy as I was, but the fall came, and it began to get
cold. One Friday afternoon, Beryl told Grub he had to go away. His
visit with me had come to an end, winter was coming, he had to go
South, but he would be back in the Spring. He would carry Grub’s
memory with him in his heart wherever he went. Grub begged Beryl
not to go. He didn’t want to let go of his big friend. Beryl
talked with him and Grub seemed satisfied with Beryl's promised to
return in the Spring. That was the beginning of a long, close
friendship that’s still as strong today as it was then. Beryl is
the only man I know who can walk out, find these folks within
minutes, and carry on a conversation with them. They listen to
him, love him, and respect him. They know he would never do
anything to harm or betray them, and has proved it many times.
"After Beryl left I continued my hikes into the forest, but it was
back to just Grub and me. For the first week I got very little out
of my buddy. I didn’t push. I thought if he wanted to talk he
would. The following weekend I decided to take a longer walk than
usual, and Grub dutifully trudged along. I packed several things I
knew he liked. I could tell he was really in a funk. I could feel
the sadness coming from him. “You really miss our old friend,
Beryl, don’t you?” I asked him. Grub nodded his head. I watched as
a tear formed, and rolled down the fur on his face. I
instinctively put my arm around him, and pulled him close. That’s
all it took, and for all the world, I held any little human boy in
my arms who missed his friend. He cried his heart out. It was the
first time I ever touched him. I tried to offer him what comfort I
“Shuu... it’s okay. He promised he’ll be back to see you again,
and he will. He can’t forget you. Why, I’ll bet he’s thinking
about you right this minute. You’re very special to him, Grub, and
I know you love him, too. You’re all he could talk about. He’ll be
back before you know it,” I told him.
"The release of his feeling and sharing them with me seemed to
help, and he began to get better after that. He even bought along
his little sister a couple of times. She was shy around me at
first, but after she shared her brother’s goodies, and found I
wouldn’t push her she fit right in. Grub and I would have a good
time with her. She was and is a special lady,” Dad said, and waved
to Grub’s sister across the way who had two kids of her own.
"That winter was a particularly cold one. I was worried for the
family because Grub seemed to be losing weight. I wondered
sometimes if what I was giving him was the only food he had for
periods of time. He wouldn’t tell me as much, but I could see and
expressed my concerns. He never asked for more than what I brought
him, but I noticed he began to eat only half his food, and the
rest he would carry back to his family. He was sharing with his
little sister and mother. I began to make more sandwiches, and
give him a paper bag full. I got a letter from Beryl just before
Christmas to wish me a happy holiday, with a message inside to
read to his little buddy. I read the letter and Beryl’s
words to Grub one afternoon sitting on our favorite log.
"Dear little buddy, Grub. I hope this letter finds you well and
happy. I hope your family is doing well this winter. It has been a
particularly long and cold one. I don’t want you to think I’ve
forgotten you. I told Jessie to read you these words I wrote on
this piece of paper. I wanted you to know I miss you and think
about you everyday. I think about you every night before I go to
sleep. I will be back up there to visit with you as soon as the
cold weather is over. I’m an old man. Cold weather and my bones
don’t agree with each other. Have faith I will return to see my
little buddy then. It isn’t often a man has such a fine young
person for a friend. Your loving friend, Beryl.
"Grub was ecstatic Beryl would take his time to sent him a letter.
He made me read it to him fifteen times or more, and he would
linger over every word. I could tell at the end of our walk that
day his heart was full. The winter was cold, but he had the warmth
of his friend’s love to hold on to. That was the winter when
Bessie May Mucho showed up. After I fed her a couple of times and
gave her a warm stall in Al and Frank's big barn to sleep in she
began to follow me everywhere. She insisted on accompanying me on
every hike. I began to load her up with extra food, and she would
trudge up the trail behind me like a puppy dog.
"She and I became great friends, and she got used to Grub and the
family. They never seemed to threaten her. I would take all kinds
of produce and fruit several times a week. I was spending all the
money I saved from Nam, but it was worth it. Then, I got lucky or
maybe God heard my prayers. Al and Frank found a group of folks
who were more than willing to contribute to our cause. A couple of
supermarket managers gave us all their out of date produce and
meat products they were going to throw away. By the end of that
winter I met Tank and the rest of the family face to face.
"Many times they were waiting for me at the point I usually left
the food. I would leave it with Grub so he could make sure
scavengers didn’t get it first. Fortunately, we didn’t lose a
member of the family from starvation or the cold. They all made it
through that terrible winter. By spring, Grub was beginning to
pick up weight again, and the rivers were teeming with salmon. The
family began to gain back lost weight.
Beryl didn’t get back up to visit until the first week in May that
year. I wrote to him several times telling him about our family
and new surprises weekly. My letters were carefully coded, so the
average person would only read about some man’s regular family.
There was never any mention of Bigfoot or Sasquatch, and they
were, indeed, becoming more a part of me and Beryl’s extended
"It seemed like the winter just wouldn’t let go, and April was the
first decent month we’d seen since September. Six months of bitter
cold. I never was one for cold weather, and I suppose that’s why,
once I moved to the South, I never wanted to return to the cold.
Anyway, Beryl returned the first week in May. I swear Grub knew he
was coming. Beryl is not one to tell you he’s coming. He arrives,
knocks on your door, and will stay for a month. He could move in
with us, and I wouldn’t mind. That Sunday the last day in April,
over sandwiches, Grub spoke, “Friend Beryl be here tomorrow,” he
said and was all excited.
“I haven’t heard from him. How do you know, Grub?” I asked.
“Grub hear him. Beryl near. Grub hear Roe-z,” he said. Come to
find out Beryl spent the weekend at Rosey's, and was within Grub’s
range, I suppose. Sure enough, just as Grub told me, Beryl came
riding up around noon the next day. I was sitting on the porch
waiting for him with a cardboard sign: “Welcome back, Big Buddy!”
He was laughing his ass off before he even got off his bike.
“Did that little shit tell you I was coming?” he asked raising an
eyebrow in suspicion.
“Why else would I be sitting here on the porch waiting for you? If
I know him, he’s up there on the trail within ear shot of us right
now about to piss his fur,” I replied.
“Good! Might clean him up a bit,” Beryl said and roared with
laughter as we embraced and kissed each other on the cheek. Al and
Frank came out to greet him, but we didn’t even bother to go into
the house. Al handed us a care package, and we headed for the
trail. We no sooner went around the bend, out of sight of the
lodge, when out pops Grub up the trail a bit. He came running to
Beryl as fast as his legs would carry him. Beryl grabbed him up in
a hug and swung him around. Grub was giggling and yelling with
joy. His buddy had come back to visit. It was one of the most
joyful afternoons we ever spent on the mountain.”
“Good day. Beryl my buddy,”added Grub, "Grub little then,” he
“Grub still little,” Tank said with a snort. We all roared with
laughter. Next to Tank, he was little.
"Beryl spent almost the whole summer with us, and we got a Hell of
a lot of things done for Al and Frank. We would get up at the
crack of dawn, and work our asses off ‘til almost noon. Frank
would feed us, and we’d lie down for a thirty minute nap. Al would
have our care packages fixed, and we’d head out for the trail to
visit Grub and the family. That summer the family welcomed Beryl
into the family without reserve.
One of Grub’s little cousins, a female, fell off the bank into the
river. No one in the family knew how to swim. Maybe because when
their fur got wet the weight would drag them under. Beryl jumped
in, clothes and all, and pulled her to safety. He was almost too
late, but he started mouth to mouth. I ran to help, but by the
time I got there she started breathing and threw up most of the
"Beryl became a hero to them. They got the idea he breathed his
life force into her to make her live again. They thought she came
back from the dead. They were partially right, but I explained to
them she would’ve died if Beryl didn’t breathe his breath into
her. Her lungs were full of water and needed air for her to start
living again. I know they understood, because later we watched a
young one revive his brother who almost drown. That summer began
an ongoing mutual admiration and respect that has lasted between
us ‘til this day, but Beryl and I became sloppy in our habits and
allowed Grub and the family to let down their guard. It almost
cost us Grub’s life.
"There was a real creepy guy staying in one of the cabins at Al
and Frank’s. He was all the time dressing up in camo fatigues,
taking his thirty-thirty and going into the woods to hunt, but no
one ever saw him bring back anything. It was like he was hunting
for one specific thing but never seemed to find it. None of us
thought much about it, but we warned the family there was a creepy
guy staying in a cabin at the lodge and be wary if they saw him.
He had a gun and might be dangerous.
"He struck up a conversation one morning with Beryl and me. He
asked where we went every afternoon. We told him we hiked up the
trail toward the gorge a ways every day for exercise. We told him
I was still recovering from my bike accident; the doctors told me
to hike to gain strength back in my legs. He asked if he could go
along with us sometime, but we sort of shined him on. Looking
back, maybe we should’ve just let him tag along and warned the
family if he was with us not to show themselves. They were pretty
good about that sort of thing. They trusted Beryl and my word
about other humans.
"Well, unknown to us he began to follow us, and obviously, he must
have seen we established a relationship with a family of
Sasquatch. Time passed since we talked with him, and nothing more
was ever said. Beryl and I assumed he was going his own way when
he figured he wasn’t welcome with us. I even told Beryl we
should’ve told him we were a couple like Al and Frank, and we
didn’t want to share our privacy. Hell, I knew Beryl wouldn’t have
a problem with it,” Dad said, winked at Beryl, and he fell out
“‘At’s true,” Beryl laughed, “I ain’t into men, but if’n I
could’ve prevented what we went through I would’ve sucked your
dad’s dick like a new born calf right in front of him,” Beryl
said. Big Tank roared over that one.
"That near fatal afternoon we were visiting and having a good
time. We brought Bessie up with a load of goodies for them, and it
was a time of great fun and joy. I’d never seen the family look
better or happier. It was getting late, and we knew Al and Frank
would have dinner waiting for us when we got back. We hollered at
Bessie who had three young Sasquatch on her back slowly riding
them around the area. She was having as much fun as they were. As
time went on she became more sociable. They reluctantly crawled
off her, and here she came. She was ready to go home to supper and
her warm stall. We hiked back down the hill. Beryl and I were in
great spirits. We had a wonderful afternoon, and were talking
about this and that. We took Bessie to the barn, wiped her down,
fed her, and went into the house to shower and clean up for
"It was dark by the time we sat down to eat with Al and Frank. We
were sharing stories of the family and the good time we had. They
were always enthralled by our tales and experiences with them. We
learned something new almost daily. It was like they became the
four of us’s extended family, and it bonded us together. It’s a
bond we still share today knowing the four of us were and are a
part of something much bigger than the sum of ourselves. We just
finished dinner and Al brought in dessert on a tray. He almost
dropped it when we heard the most blood curdling scream at the
back door. I recognized it immediately as Tank. I would know his
yell anywhere. I knew it was him the other night welcoming us back
to the mountain.”
Tank squeezed my shoulder again. “Jess right. Jess bring son for
Tank. Tank yell for joy,” he said.
“We ran to the back-door and outside. There was Tank with Grub in
his arms with a big gaping hole in his right shoulder. The
cowardly, little bastard built a camouflage blind weeks earlier,
and was watching our every move waiting for an opportunity to
shoot Tank. It was his ambition to become the first human to bring
a dead Sasquatch back for verification of a new species. He had no
idea about their beauty, their intelligence, or their uniqueness.
He didn’t care. It was the universal story of greed, fame, and
"He wanted his fifteen minutes of glory, and didn’t care who or
what he hurt to get it. When he finally drew a bead on Tank, Grub
heard him in his head, saw the flash of his scope, found him out,
saw the gun, and watched as he pulled the trigger. Grub’s brain
went into protective mode, and he didn’t think about anything but
saving his father. He quickly reacted, jumped up in front of his
dad, and took the bullet. It was lodged deep in his shoulder, and
it nicked an artery. He already lost a lot of blood. They didn’t
know to put pressure on the wound to slow the bleeding.
I had my med kit in my back pack, and hollered for Al to get it
for me. We got Grub onto their huge, screened back porch, and laid
him on a blanket. I was yelling orders to Frank, Al, and Beryl.
They didn’t question, and reacted as quickly as they could. Frank
brought a clip-on light with a two hundred watt bulb, and clipped
it onto the back of a chair. I couldn’t see the bullet, but I knew
it was still in there. It had to come out. I had to sanitize and
cauterize the wound to stop the bleeding. Al bought me my kit, and
I got out some tools I’d need. Then, I noticed the blood from the
wound was slowing. 'My God,' I thought, 'he’s running out of
blood.' I have to transfuse him, or he’ll go into cardiac arrest.
I took his pulse, and sure enough, it was weak."
“Guys, if I don’t get some blood into him he’ll die,” I told them.
“He can have my blood. I’m “O” neg universal donor,” offered
“Yeah, but in whose universe?” I asked. Beryl knew exactly what I
meant. Human blood might not be compatible with their blood.
“Do you think I could get Tank to let me take some of his blood?”
“Are you kidding? For his son?” asked Frank.
“Tank,” I barked at the huge creature. "Lie down here next to
Grub,” I told him. I lay down next to Grub to show him, then I
indicated for him to do it. He didn’t hesitate and lay down. I
took my scalpel and cut my arm near the inside of the elbow. I
drew my blood to show him.
“Tank I need some of your blood to put into Grub,” he looked
puzzled. I pulled out my transfusion hand pump and showed him. I
showed him I needed to go from his arm to Grub’s. He still looked
puzzled. I closed my eyes and tried with my mind to show him what
I needed to do. When I opened them, looked into his eyes, I knew
he understood, and his eyes told me to proceed. I cut some fur
away from the inside of his arm, found a good vein and inserted
the needle. He didn’t even jump. I showed him I wanted him to open
and close his fist. He began doing it. His blood began to spurt
out the other needle. I hooked the other needle into Grub’s vein
and slowly began to pump Tank’s blood into Grub.
"We watched as the color began to come back into Grub’s cheeks and
the palms of his hands. It was working. I felt his pulse again,
and it was returning to normal. The wound began to bleed freely
again. I had Beryl take over pumping the blood into Grub, and set
about getting the bullet out. It took me almost thirty minutes to
get that damn bullet out of him. It was lodged tight in his collar
bone. If it hadn’t been for Frank having a pair of needle nose
vice grips I don’t know what I would’ve done. Once I pulled the
bullet out, I knew we were almost home free. I cauterized the
wound and stitched him up with some gut. I stopped the bleeding,
but I still wanted more of Tank’s blood. He lay there the whole
time softly singing his deep rumbling song to his beloved son.
Finally, I figured Grub had enough of his dad’s blood to recover,
and I unhooked them both. Tank started to get up, but I wouldn’t
let him,” Dad paused for a moment.
Tank squeezed my shoulder again and said, “Dad Jess, bossy man,”
he said, smiled, and we all laughed. A little humor was greatly
needed at that moment.
“After a while I let him sit up. Al handed him some juice to drink
and gave him a banana to eat. I told him he had to eat and drink
before I’d let him up. Here I am half his size giving him orders.
What a laugh,” Dad said shaking his head. Everyone laughed at my
“He was a good patient though, and followed my instructions. I
think he was thrilled because he knew Grub was going to be all
right. Finally we got him up. Beryl picked up Grub and Frank threw
an old quilt over the day bed on the porch. We lay Grub on the
bed, and covered him with another quilt. Al had been busy all that
time with hot towels and sterile bandages. He brought me a hot
towel, and I laid it across Grub’s head. I gently washed and wiped
his face. His color was really getting better. I told them to let
him rest. He would be all right in a while.
"I turned and stomped out the back-door. I nodded to Grub’s mom
and little sisters as I stomped past, and headed for the cabin the
son of a bitch was staying in. I went to his door and damn near
kicked it in with my boot. I knew he was the last guest of the
season, and no one else was around to hear or witness what I was
about to do. He came to the door with his gun in his hand. He
pointed it at me with his finger on the trigger.”
“What? You gonna’ kill me like you did that innocent child?” I
shouted at him enraged.
“What child? That was a fucking wild animal. I have a right to
shoot anything I please,” he yelled at me.
“You know what, you cowardly mother fucker, you’re looking at as
wild an animal as you shot today, and you better pull that trigger
pretty damn quick ‘cause he’s about to kill your ass,” I told him.
I started for him not caring if I died or not. I was so angry I
didn’t care if the world went on another day.
“No! No! Get back!” he cried, but by that time I grabbed the end
of his gun, and pointed it to the ceiling. He pulled the trigger,
and the gun went off. It blew a Hell of a chunk out of the plaster
ceiling, but I was able to wrestle it away from him, and I hit him
in the gut with the butt of the gun. He doubled over, and I hit
him again with the butt of the gun to the back of his head. I
kicked him in the side and groin with my boot, and was about to
administer the coup-de-grace to his head, again with the butt of
his own gun. I raised it up high to make one quick, lethal blow to
his worthless skull when a giant furry hand grabbed the gun over
my head and took it away from me.”
“Jess, no kill!” Tank said in his deep voice.
“I stood there in frustration and started to cry. I found myself,
once again, in Tank’s huge arms crying my guts out. I knew he was
right, but I would’ve killed the man. I was so frustrated and
angered by what he did. I felt so ashamed of my own race or tribe
of apes. That was the second time Tank ever sang to me. He sang to
me, held me, healed me, and wouldn’t let me go until he was sure I
wouldn’t kill the man and my mind was in a better place. For all
the good things Tank ever did for me, that was about the best. I
guess it was an even exchange. I saved his son, and he saved me
from myself,” Dad said.
“Dad Jess throw man’s guns and all his stuff in river, Brother
Grub,” Big Grub said to me.
“I wasn’t going to tell him that part, Son,” Dad said and laughed
at Big Grub.
“After I threw his stuff in the river, I returned with Tank to the
lodge to find Grub awake asking for his dad. Tank went to him and
held him. He sang to his son the most wonderful song, and there
wasn’t a dry eye on the back porch or the back yard. I was a mess.
I finally broke down after I realized just how close to losing
Grub we came. Tank told Grub I saved his life, and now he had to
give him to me to be my son. I was thrilled and proud to think
Tank would trust me enough to give me his son, but I made a deal
with him. One day, when I had a son, one I was sure I could be
really proud of, who was worthy enough, I promised I would bring
him and give him to Tank. That way, we could share each other's
sons. Do you understand, now, why I gave you to this big fellow,
Son?” Dad asked.
“Certainly, Dad, and I’m proud and honored to have Tank as one of
my dads and Grub for a big brother. Most men only have one dad.
Big Grub and Little Grub have two dads,” I said with a pleased
sigh. Tank pulled me closer and caressed me some more. Big Grub
had his arms lightly draped around the front of my dad. I could
tell my dad was really relaxed, and enjoying sharing all this with
me. It meant a lot to both of us. I was convinced my dad was one
of the most remarkable men on the face of the Earth.
“How long did it take Grub to recover? I asked.
“Hell, you can’t keep that kid down for long,” Big Beryl replied,
“he was up and around the next day. We kept him in the lodge as
long as we could, but we knew he wanted to get back to his dad and
family. The next evening Tank came for him, and we told him we’d
be up to visit the next afternoon. Your dad didn’t want infection
to set in, and he needed to remove the stitches in about a week.
We made several trips up, but Grub did just fine. Jess removed the
stitches after five or six days. He healed up real quick,” Beryl
Dad asked me if I wanted another pull on his flask, and I didn’t
refuse. I was already so relaxed I figured it would put my lights
out. After that, I got real sleepy and could barely hold my head
up. The next thing I knew I was being carried by a huge creature
to a bed of soft leaves and vines. Dad followed with my sleeping
bag, and he unrolled it for me. He helped me get undress, and I
crawled into it. Tank lay next to me and pulled me to him. He
began to sing to me in his deep bass tones. It wasn’t really
singing. It was a rumble. There were changes in pitch, but it was
like a resonance that vibrated in tune with my soul. It was
beautiful, it was hypnotic, it was relaxing, and it was wonderful.
I found myself drifting off into the deepest, most peaceful sleep
I experienced in years; to sleep in the arms of a monster, a new
dad, to whom my beloved father gave me to share. I was deeply
honored to be considered a part of Tank and Big Grub's family.
* * * * * * *
I awoke the next morning looking into the eyes of a great beast;
Tank’s beautiful eyes; eyes, that spoke volumes. I gently reached
up and touched his cheek with the palm of my hand. He smiled and
moved his face into my hand in a gesture of affection. He reminded
me of Barney when I put my hand on his head. He would move his
head around to get me to pet him more. However, Tank was far from
a dog. He was a highly complex, sensitive, peaceful, and sentient
creature. I knew he could see to the bottom of my soul; certainly,
into the being of my heart. I was captivated by my new family;
more so than if I’d been captured by swashbuckling pirates, held
for ransom, and suffered from terminal Stockholm syndrome. I knew
they would become a major part of the rest of my life.
Dad and Big Beryl were right. Tank turned away from me when I got
out of my sleeping bag to put on my clothes. He was embarrassed
for me and my lack of fur. We joined the others in time to greet
Al and Frank who came over the rise into the campground followed
by Bessie loaded with the fruit Rosey sent to the family. Bessie
wasn’t the least bothered by the young Sasquatch who ran up to
them to pet her and welcome her back among them. Tank and Grub
welcomed Al and Frank, and helped them unload the sacks of fruit.
It was a great breakfast for the family. I was hungry, too, and
was going to finish the stew Frank made, but they brought enough
rolls and goodies for everyone. Al and Frank must have baked all
night. Beryl gently punched me in the ribs with his elbow and
pointed out Al feeding Bessie one of his sticky buns. He looked up
and saw us laughing at him. "Well, Hell, she's been on the trail
for several hours hauling all that stuff for us, she deserves a
treat," he allowed. We all laughed.
Al and Frank spent the day with the family and returned that
afternoon. Tank and Grub wanted us to stay so we agreed to stay
over another night. It was good we saved Frank’s stew for the
evening. The family didn’t eat all the fruit Rosey sent, and there
was plenty for that evening. We stayed three nights with them, and
then, we returned the fourth afternoon. There was much hugging and
touching. I was amazed, I even became accustom to their smell.
That last afternoon, they escorted us all the way to the bend in
the trail that leads down into the valley where the lodge was. Dad
promised we would return the day after to spend some more time
before we had to leave. Big Grub didn’t want to let us go. Tank
reminded him we had our world, and they had theirs. They waved as
We visited one more time, stayed one night with them, then
returned the next morning to the lodge. We stayed one more evening
with Al, Frank, and Big Beryl, but the next day we had to get on
the road to return to Southern California. Al was right. Dad and I
threw our old clothes away. After cleaning up, I discovered I had
become sensitive to their odor. Now I can tell instantly if a
Sasquatch is anywhere near the area and most times how many are in
the group. Over the years I find myself becoming nostalgic when I
get the slightest whiff of their smell. I can now identify
separate family groups by their different but distinct odors. As
you might have guessed, I have returned many times and have lived
extensively among the family. They are as much my family now as my
parents and sister.
My dad accomplished his goal of letting go of his little boy. He
brought me into manhood the same time he introduced me to a new
world. For my rite of passage he gave me to a wonderful new
family; a uniquely loving family of which I am proud to be a part.
At the end of that summer my goals were not clear, but my dad
showed me the path. On our return, my dear mother and sister
commented I returned taller of stature, much more mature, and
focused in my life. I knew in my heart I set aside my childhood,
my childish ways, and became a man. My first introduction to a new
part of my family changed my life. I knew I had to do something to
assure their way of life so they might continue to exist in an
ever crowded and polluted world. I spent many hours in deep
conversations with my dad, Big Beryl, Al, and Frank as to what I
should do with my future. There were many suggestions, but
everyone left it up to me to decide my own path.
What did I do with my life? I went to school and became a medical
doctor. I have a second doctorate in primate anthropology. I am
considered the world's leading authority on primate behavior and
medicine. During my years in school, I spent almost every summer
at Al and Frank’s with our family. Many summers I was joined by my
dad and Beryl for a couple of weeks. Mom, dad, and my sister all
made the trip to visit a couple of times. My sister couldn’t
believe they really existed, and was as fascinated by them as the
rest of us. It truly became party time when we all got together. I
came to love and appreciate Al and Frank as brothers over the
years and found there were no more loving and dedicated men.
Among my other duties, I run a small clinic in the forest behind
Al and Frank’s place. It was a joint building effort. Al, Frank,
dad, big Beryl, me and a couple of locals who knew the family
helped. Best of all the family helped a lot. You can only imagine
the lifting power of two ten feet tall giants. The clinic is
hidden so well you’d have to know where to look to find it. The
average hunter or hiker will pass within feet of it and never know
I have become the country’s leading and most vocal de-bunker of
Bigfoot or Sasquatch sighting. I give lectures all over the world
on the myth of the Sasquatch legends in which I hammer home my
point that there is no such creature as a Bigfoot. I arrange for
people ‘in the know’ to stage demonstrations of how they fooled
hundreds of people with big feet strapped to the bottom of their
rubber boots. I try to make sure every year someone dresses up in
a gorilla suit and is caught trying to convince folks Bigfoot is
real. I point out to the press and in lectures across the country
multiple examples of hoaxes.
Why do I do this? One reason is personal selfishness. I don’t care
to share my family with the world. Can you imagine the media hype
to want more and more coverage of these mysterious creatures?
Money making entrepreneurs who would offer a vacation package to
spend a week living among the Sasquatch? We would kill them and
destroy their unique culture with overexposure.
It’s my decided opinion they hear enough garbage in their heads
from the few who live in and around the area. I don’t want to see
them exterminated like we tried to do with the American Indians. I
don’t want to have to go to a zoo to visit what’s left of my
beloved family. If it was found out they have abilities we don’t,
can you imagine the paranoia of the military mentality and their
imagined threat to national security? Whether they were a threat
or not, they damn sure would make them so. I don’t want any of
them to suffer interrogation, harassment, or worse, medical
Can you imagine what it might do to the rigidly unbending, right
wing fundamentalist, for them to suddenly discover we are, indeed,
the product of evolution when they find out there’s another,
separate, sentient species of bipedal apes who exist? If, as the
bible declares, we were made in God’s image, then who made these
beautiful, humble, peaceful, and loving creatures who are enough
like us to be genetic first cousins, who seem to have a far
greater sense of right and wrong than us wise apes ever did?
If they could find no logical explanation to fit their narrow
views, would they try to exterminate them because they believe
they were the descendants of a race of giants who were created as
the offspring of fallen angels who found the daughters of man fair
and took them for wives? Far fetched? Consider their false
justification of slavery because of Ham's alleged sin against his
father. Noah cursed Ham's son Canaan whose children were condemned
to lives of servitude for perpetuity. From the eighteenth through
most of the twentieth centuries, the blacks of Africa were
considered Hamites, or the son's of Ham. It was not true. It was
simply an invention to serve the purpose of small minded and
largely greedy men.
With the mental capacities of these beautiful creatures, it has
often occurred to me, just perhaps, they have the ability to plant
suggestions in the mind's of men of great power. Is it possible,
they have been the mysterious ‘watchers’ described in ancient
text? Certainly the songs they’ve sung to me and others over the
years are nothing short of miraculous by our standards. Do they
have the ability to sing their songs to the minds of a troubled
world? Are they part of a grander scheme of an undiscovered
eco-system ethos; a slender thread, if destroyed or broken could
send the world into chaos? Have they been the ones who have
somehow gently and graciously pulled us back from the brink of
self-annihilation? In my imagination I can hear Tank's deep voice
as he stopped my dad from killing a man, "Jess, no kill!"
Likewise, I can hear him projecting to some crazy man about to
push the red button, "Man, no kill!"
Sometimes, when I’m deep in the forest with my family, having a
good time, enjoying their company, I tell my nine foot tall
brother and ten foot tall dad the latest hoax or contrived
deception I’ve helped be a part of to keep them safe and
anonymous. We share a good laugh together. My biological dad, my
rock, the very foundation of my life, insists I have, indeed,
become my brother’s keeper.
The End ~ My Brother's Keeper
Copyright © 2003/2016 ~ Waddie Greywolf
All rights reserved~
Mail to: [email protected]
WC = 25,727
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