Who Says Quack by Justin Teerlink

The Adventure Journal of Theodore Roosevelt
(Bound in panda-bear leather)
February 12th, 1911

     Since our guide has no command of the English language, we were left to puzzle over the meaning of his. Normally, languages are not my field, and I could feel my impatience rising like a bubble of indigestion in my rotund belly. But we all strained our ears and I checked my temper, for what our guide was hitherto attempting to communicate was the very name of our enigmatic quarry.
     “Seesitch,” he said.
     “Seasick?” I tried.
     “Seeeesaquik,” he enunciated.
     “Sneezelick?” said Kermit.
     “Sesqak! Sesqqak!”
     “I hear you, man,” I said. “Sasquatch!” He shook his head as though he thought my son and I were both low-grade morons. Little did he know that I was both recently the president of the United States and the owner of a pearl-handled knife, custom-made for each of the Roosevelts by Tiffany’s.
     We are close to discovering the source of the Chelak River, near the Olympic Rainforest in Washington. It is there, we have been told, that a certain mineral bubbles from a spring: lithium salts. After shooting 100,000 beasts on the African veldt, Kermit and Edith have been conspiring to get me to slow down. Nonsense! They believe that the waters of this spring will quiet my resolve and make me into a docile old fellow. Not me, sir. The old and weak die at the back of the herd, and this old bull moose still has the blood of the tiger coursing through his veins. Little do they know I have them tricked.
     I will not “go quietly into that good night” until I have tasted the flesh of every mammal and every bird of this earth. Edith may tell you 400 pounds is too much to weigh, but my bulk is nothing compared to the burden of knowing I have not killed and grilled every living thing that creepeth.

February 13th

     We awoke to a most demonic quacking sound. The trees of this dark and dripping forest trembled with the sound. I thought I was dreaming until I saw the massive footprint in the mud. Aha! It is the Sasquatch, and the air is rank with plants, dung and a musk far worse than even the most frightened skunk. I have been using my stick to penetrate through a dense thatch of maidenhair ferns, to no avail. His track leads away, and the presence of ducks continually follows wherever we find sign of him.

Letter from Kermit Roosevelt to his mother Edith
February 13th, 1911

Dearest Mother,
     Father’s efforts are incessant, and the native guides weary of carrying him. He puts up a valiant show of displaying his manly vigor, but he becomes winded and gassy easily. I caught him having a fit, thumping a bush with a stick and demanding to know where he could find Sasquatch. It’s as though he thinks he can bend the forest to his will. I have taken the liberty of placing a dropperful of Mrs. Right-A-Way’s Tincture of Opium Cure-All in his morning coffee, to no good effect. I will continue, as always, to try to check his impulses. Father has taken to eschewing our canned goods. He says, “It is a man’s duty to only eat what he kills.” He is constantly eating. Yesterday he took three swamp bucks, five raccoons, two rattlesnakes and a new species of tortoise. His eyesight is worse than ever, so he had to use the old Browning machine gun left over from the Spanish war.

February 15th, 1911
The Adventure Journal of Theodore Roosevelt
(Bound in panda-bear leather)

     I was chewing on my morning panda steak when the forest seemed to come alive. A being with an ape-like form, covered in moss and vines, leapt down from a massive, ancient cedar. It was perfectly camouflaged by its own wretched filth. My impression was that of a powerful and deranged creature, the offspring of a sloth and a great ape. It reminded me of how the flavor of the three-toed sloth is more like a walnut, but the two-toed sloth tastes a bit more like salmon roe, at least when fried in saffron. The only thing that gave it away was a musky aura, stronger than ever before, mingled with a faint scent of rotten cheese and eggs. It turned and raised a shaggy arm and began quacking loudly and rapidly, like the laugh of a madman. I understood then what our guide was trying to tell us. Sasquatch was not the beast’s name, but rather, “Says Quack.” I began to despair—not for my life, for I had every means to dispatch the Says Quack at my disposal—but rather, how could I ever eat something that smelled so foul?
     There came to us the roundest white man we had ever seen. We were told, “This is the Big Man.” We said, For sure. They told us, “No, not big like that. He is the Great White Father.” We called him Orca, because his belly was so round, stretched and large, and, like the orca, he would stop at nothing to kill and eat blood and flesh. We were afraid when we saw him eat, for he was like the Wendigo, the demon who eats and eats and eats, yet never is satiated. We whispered to each other, How many men can fit in his belly? Plus, he was difficult to carry. He broke the backs of our strongest warriors. We told him that he dare not eat the flesh of the Says Quack, nor show him the Jesus book, because the Says Quack cannot be tamed and his flesh is poison. Instead, the Orca showed us a special knife made of a white stone given to him by a spirit called Tiffany, and told us of a lazy black-and-white bear from a far-off place who does nothing but sits and eats leaves. We laughed at these things, and asked to touch his belly because we were not sure if the Orca was really a human being. I, Ejilkut, saw these things, and they are true.
     —From Quilliniklat Oral History, Ethnological Monograph #45,
          University of Washington

February 17th, 1911
Letter to Edith from Theodore Roosevelt

My dear wifey poo,
     A great discovery! I awoke to the sound of much quacking, and since ducks are rare in this part of the rainforest, I realized this was the call of the Says Quack (or Sasquatch as we had lately been calling him). He leapt toward the mess tent—attacking the last of the panda shanks, I believe. I ordered him to stop, and then he turned with a mouthful of panda, and began growling and swiping at the men. Needless to say, I jumped up, unholstered my Smith and Wesson Model 3 revolver and put all six shots in him. But he was built of stern stuff, that one, for he merely let out a pained quack and dropped the meat. I then pulled out my cavalry saber and sliced off an arm. He turned and ran like a coward. Darling, fear not, for I have brought along jars to preserve some of the Says Quack for you and the rest of the children at Thanksgiving. Perhaps we can stick it in the turkey.

February 17th, 1911
Letter to Edith from Kermit Roosevelt

Dear Mother,
     If only you could see how happy Father is. I am sure he minimized his bravery in subduing the Says Quack. It came upon him at a most inopportune moment, as Father was squatting over a log taking care of his daily maintenance. As fortune would have it, his pistol was nearby, and he shot the beast and then jumped up and severed its arm—all with his trousers around his ankles.
     We sat around the fire that night, roasting and eating the Says Quack arm. Father says it is rather like chicken…pickled in skunk. Well, as we sat there telling yarns, we heard a most pitiful sobbing in the forest just beyond camp. It was the armless Says Quack, crying in pain! He was much calmer now, so Father led him back to camp and bandaged the stump himself. Then Father gave him a Bible, three droppers of Mrs. Right-A-Way’s Tincture of Opium Cure-All, and was even magnanimous enough to share a large portion of the arm steak with the forlorn and lonely creature who had recently been its bearer. Father’s sense of fair play and a square deal knows no bounds.
     The creature, now chastened, took and ate his portion gladly and murmured his approval as he sat like “one of the boys.” Father patted it on its remaining shoulder and said to it, “You see, I want to save you, but in order to do so I must kill, eat and stuff you first. One day, countless little Says Quacks will gambol in this valley, perhaps at the protected site of Says Quack National Park. You can thank me for that, my dank and ripe friend.”
     Hopefully, we will find the lithium spring soon.
          Your ever loving son,

Justin Teerlink has been been published in several print and online literary magazines. He has a column called “Fun Patrol” in Whistling Shade. Several of his books are published under his pen name, Dr. Horace S. Browntrout, and are available through Amazon. He moved to Lakewood, Washington, seven months ago to begin work as a forensic occupational therapist at Western State Hospital.