“Why don’t you start from the beginning and tell me your
Emma nodded and took a sip of the tea she’d set out for
them. She held Wilson’s gaze as she began. “I was sixteen at the time, and it
shook me to my core. We had out-of-state relatives visiting, so we’d taken them
out to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. On the way back, we’d gone off the
main road and followed a few back roads through the forest to give the cousins
She paused for another sip of tea, and Wilson said, “That
would be awe inspiring to people who haven’t experienced a sequoia forest
before. I never cease to be amazed by their immense beauty.”
Emma nodded. “Even living here my whole life, I never tire
“This is where you saw Bigfoot?” Wilson prompted. That made
more sense than the creature showing up in a relatively populated area.
Assuming the perpetrator of the hoax was thinking along the lines of making
their ruse more believable under scrutiny.
Of course that then presented a different problem. How had the
prankster known to be in that particular remote spot at that particular time?
“But no one else in your party saw it?”
“No. We pulled off and spread a couple blankets for a
picnic. We weren’t allowed to wander off exploring, but we had permission to
seek a little privacy to relieve ourselves before piling back into the car. Dad—” She laughed. “He was so protective. He
had a ball of twine in the car and we had to unravel it as we went, so when we
were done, we could follow it, winding it as walked back.”
Which perfectly explained how she’d been the only one to spot
“I didn’t trust my cousins not to…intrude on my privacy, so
I went out a little farther than I’m sure Dad would have liked. I had just stood
to pull up my shorts when I saw him.”
“Peeping Bigfoot?” That was disturbing. Although Jerry would
probably like that for a headline.
“No. I don’t think so.” She was quick to jump to Bigfoot’s
defense on that score. “I couldn’t see him when I was squatting. It was only
when I stood. And he was clearly startled.”
Or he was a good actor, because he’d obviously known the
group was nearby or he wouldn’t have been in costume. But it was possible he’d
been legitimately startled by the girl off on her own.
“Could you explain in detail how he ‘looked’ startled?”
specifics like that were what would bring Wilson’s story to life.
Her head tipped to the side and her lips pursed as she
pondered the question. “Besides the body language—he’d stopped short and
recoiled—He wasn’t ‘scary close,’ but he was close enough for me to get a
decent look at his facial expression.” She tapped her eyeglasses. “I didn’t
need these back then. My vision was perfect.”
Wilson nodded, and she continued. “His eyes bugged like he
was terrified.” She laughed. “He was afraid of me.”
Eyes ‘bugging’—and facial expressions in general—if her
memory was accurate, would be a difficult feat to achieve with a costume.
Possibly the fake Bigfoot’s head was more makeup than mask. But that would be
virtually impossible to do with short notice. More likely her memory had slowly
altered over the years.
“The eyes and the gasp are what jump out in my memory.”
“Was the gasp audible?”
“Yes. He also made a noise when he tripped while running
away from me.”
“Can you describe his sound?”
“I would have been hard put to describe it at the time, but
years later when I watched Star Wars, I couldn’t help wondering if
whoever’d developed the voice of Chewbacca had heard a Bigfoot and mimicked the
Wilson smiled. “Did he look like Chewbacca, too?”
“It’s kind of the reverse. More like Chewbacca looks like
someone wearing an exaggerated, extra hairy Bigfoot costume.”
He chuckled. “I like that. I’ll never be able to watch the Star
Wars movies again without thinking of you.”
She grinned, then continued her narrative. “I was shaken,
but I was also impulsive, and…” she rolled her eyes. “after pulling up my
pants, I took off after him.”
“Wow.” That could have ended badly.
“I didn’t catch him, obviously. He was surprisingly fast
once he’d gotten over his initial shock at discovering me.”
“Did you chase him far? Did you get lost?”
“No to both. It became clear very, very quickly that
he could outrun me. So instead, I went to investigate the spot where I’d first
seen him, because he’d made a noticeable noise running away, and I should have
heard his approach. So I figured maybe he’d been squatting or sitting, too, and
had only just stood up and taken maybe a step or two when I spotted him.”
“That makes sense. What did you find?” It was interesting
that Marvin hadn’t mentioned anything about physical evidence that she’d
“A little patch that would have been a forager’s paradise. I
could see where a bunch of mushrooms had been ripped off, a huckleberry bush
had been stripped of berries, and a patch of miner’s lettuce had been torn up.
There was barely enough left for me to identify it.”
Wilson’s brows shot up. “Interesting.” And indeed it was. Although
it wasn’t tangible evidence she’d been able to bring back with her, it was, if
she was to be believed, compelling. Because it was either an extraordinarily elaborate
ruse, or it had been a bear. Except a bear would have run off on all fours,
rather than re-standing to run after tripping. “And easy to see why you came to
“Right? And please believe me, I’ve never been the kind of person
who is easily tricked.”
“I believe you. And because I’m pedantic, I want to clarify.
When you refer to your Bigfoot as ‘he’ and ‘him,’ are you just using the male
pronoun in a generic way, or was there something about the…creature you saw
that makes you think he was a man?”
“He had…” She reddened. “Dangly bits. And trust me, you
couldn’t miss them.”
Wilson coughed. He kind of wanted to shake the hand of
whoever had come up with a costume with that kind of attention to detail.
“Using language that I wouldn’t have known at the time, but
looking back I can apply it, let’s just say he was proportional, and a
‘shower,’ not a ‘grower.’ Or at least I sure as hell hope that’s the case,
because damn. My sixteen-year-old self was astounded and maybe a bit traumatized,
and my sixty-six-year-old self is still rather impressed.”
She grinned sheepishly, and Wilson laughed. He could see
Jerry’s headline now…Bigfoot Flashes Teenager, Scars Her for Life! Normal
Men Pale in Comparison!