On The Right Track

OnTheRightTrack“No, there was a Bigfoot here, Charlie.” Stan was a true believer, he had seen a Bigfoot when he was a kid, and I’m pretty sure that the main reason he had gone to college in Oregon, where we all met, was in hopes of repeating the event. The three of us hadn’t seen each other since the college days and had decided to go camping to catch up. Now, standing over the large print, I was getting the idea that the location might have been chosen with other ideas in mind than just chatting.

“I don’t think these are sasquatch tracks, this is something different,” Charlie replied. Charlie was from Canada and when the topic of large, hairy, upright primates came up, as seemed to do every few minutes now with these two, he sprinkled in the term “sasquatch” to remind us of his roots in the great white north.

“I think Charlie’s right,” I agreed, raising my phone slightly in an attempt to show them the article that I had there, but neither was listening. They had been ignoring me since I had started scrolling through articles before we left camp that morning, bored by their talk of giant forest people and curious about the history of our surroundings. The three of us had mused about the existence of Bigfoot back then, and I had known, of course that Stan believed, but it seemed to me the topic had become more than idle musing for these two in recent years.

“Look,” Stan started, looking at Charlie, “we know they come through here, this is a Bigfoot track, what else could it be?”

“I think I know,” I said, once again lifting my phone towards the two of them.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, the toes look a little funny though, don’t they?” Charlie knelt to point at the row of dips along the front of the depression. When we first met up last night, I had thought Charlie had just been humoring Stan, but as the conversation wore on it became clear that the man knew more about “sasquatch” than a bank teller probably should.

Stan crouched back down beside Charlie and put his face a few inches from the track, “Yeah, something’s wrong, but the weight distribution is weird too, deeper on the toes than usual.”

“Guys, I think you should-”

I was cut off again as Stan continued, “Maybe, he was off balance, or running?” a huge, kid-in-a-candy-store grin was spreading across his face as he said it.

“Oh, that might do it!” Charlie agreed, getting excited now and climbing back to his feet. He brushed at the mud on his jeans while his eyes narrowed and he again looked up and down the river bank carefully. The little patch of mud was surrounded by large smooth rocks and the river was just a shallow step away; it wasn’t much of a wonder that whatever had made the track hadn’t left any others nearby, Bigfoot or not.

“Do we want to run back to the truck and get the plaster?” Stan asked, looking at me for the first time since finding the footprint, “or do we want to look around for a few more first?”

“Well, I’m not sure it’s – wait, you brought plaster?” I asked.

“Looks like there’s another muddy patch over there, let’s go check it out,” Charlie suggested.

The two of them tromped off into the water without reservation, grinning like idiots, and leaving me standing alone in the partial shadows on the bank. As they galloped in their awkward, unstable gait through the water, I chuckled. They reminded me of excited dogs bounding after a tossed branch. I glanced once more down at my phone and the article about the gorilla that had escaped from a traveling circus as it passed within three miles of this very spot. Apparently the gorilla had been seen in the area only three days ago. I turned the phone off and slipped it into my pocket. They wanted so badly to believe, and they were having so much fun searching. Who was I to burst their bubble?

“Wait up,” I called after them as I started pulling off my shoes to charge into the water after them.

This story was originally published on Saturday Night Reader on June 17th 2014.
They post a lot of great flash fiction; I suggest checking out their page.



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