New Stories for December 21, 2020
Frozen in mid-stride, the Bigfoot gazed at us with wide curious eyes. Dan and I weren’t at all afraid. Despite its towering height and gorilla-thick bulk, there was an intelligence in its expression, a human softness beneath the ridges of its ape-like forehead. Coarse brown hair covered the rest of its body; a reminder that however much we wish to see of ourselves in an animal’s eyes, we lost that fur and that wildness long ago. We both knew it wouldn’t be wise to get much closer. Plus, we couldn’t. The doors of what until recently was Denver’s Premier (and only) Bigfoot Museum and Gift Shop were chained shut, decorated with a hand-written “Going Out of Business.”
All that remained of what must have been shelves upon shelves of irrefutable North American forest ape evidence was the Bigfoot statue posed on an AstroTurf box facing the entrance, made by whomever mass produces life-sized novelty plastic sasquatches. I rattled the locked doors.
“Much like the beast itself,” Dan lamented “The Bigfoot Museum can only be seen by the traces it leaves behind.”
Tobias. I hope you understand.”
Tobias looked up shyly. He was sitting on the kitchen floor, defenseless. His backpack was lying beside him. He was already getting picked on at school. Having to leave the classroom while everyone else got to learn something he didn’t was going to make him even more of a target, for sure. Though he was young, he knew that missing this knowledge was going to affect him negatively, even if he didn’t really understand why.
“Mom,” he protested, “I really don’t think it’s the Devil’s work. I just want to learn.”
“Honey, there are many things that you don’t understand,” Mary remarked. “But I can’t have you learning about things you shouldn’t be doing even when you’re an adult.”
Tobias stared at her, coldly.
“That’s why you have to give me the form,” she continued. “I need you to opt out of taking sex-ed.”
“No.” He grasped his backpack.
This was not how he’d wanted to spend his afternoon home from school. He just wanted to go to his room. But he knew his mother’s anger too well, and that would only lead to even more punishment.
Mary’s lips turned thin. She huffed.
The “weaker vessels” drank-up the Potomac potion wearing bloomers hounded by misery, history, trickery by men angered without whiskey the emancipation proclamation in hibernation bounded by chiaroscuro the never bending color line wound-up in blouses with bars in lavender scented tombs heavier than Alice Paul’s three squares in the Pen. the “better halves” carved-up Washington’s monument bearing chisels showered by pillory, injury, quackery by men angered without masculinity the franchise fricasseed sautéed then flambéed
A sad-eyed towhead,
epileptic outsider, my
Catholic baptism &
religious training did
little to mitigate ostensible
demonic possession amid
minds trained to discern
right from wrong, pain from
pleasure, evil from good;
they branded me a shaking
peer pariah—best kept at a