A Story by dugle

A man tells his daughter a story.


“Congratulations.” The word bounced around Walt’s skull like his truck on the path and the wrapped-up tarp sitting in its trunk. Tapping some ash from his lit cigarette into the tray, he placed it back in his mouth and turned, pointing the smoking tip away from the check sitting in the drink holder. Masha sat in the passenger seat, nose crinkled as usual. Twiddling her puffy green coat’s zipper between her fingers, her hazel eyes flitted from tree to tree bordering the mountain path. Walt’s pocket buzzed. Another call. He let it ring and turned on the radio instead.

“--alter Cramer, long-time Green River local, is credited as the shooter, an--"

Flicking to the local music station, Walt leaned back in his seat, letting the smoke flee through the open window.

“What’ll we buy first?” asked Masha, still trying to block out the scent.

“Don’t know,” Walt replied, “We can ask your mother when we get home.”

“Will she be surprised?”

“I don’t think so. I think she already knows.”

Masha reached for the check sitting in the cup holder.

“Easy, Mash. Keep it away from the window.”


The girl cradled the piece of paper like a baby"the surface dominated by blue-pen scribble and an alpine forest in the background. She hadn’t seen many fancy checks before. Then again, she hadn’t seen many checks. Squinting, Masha did her best to decipher the chicken scratch etched on the lines. ‘ten thousand and 00/100 dollars’. She wasn’t very good at fractions yet.

“What’s this word?”

Walt flicked his cigarette, now burned to the filter, out the window and onto the trail. Glancing at the check, his eyes returned to the road.


“Out There Society?”

“You got it, Mash.”

“Like the show on TV?”

“Yep, with all the weird animals.”

Masha smiled. She liked that show.

“Are we gonna be on TV, dad?”

Walt glanced at his pocket. More buzzing.

“Think so.”

Satisfied, Masha placed the check back in the holder.

“Why don’t you put that in your pocket?”

Nodding, she unzipped the front pocket on her jacket and tucked the check inside.

“Don’t forget it, okay?”


The two of them fell silent--the crackle of dirt and the warbling of the singer on the radio bouncing around the truck as they went. Overhead, a hawk scoured the forest for prey. Walt cleared his throat.


“Yea, Mash?”

“How did you find him?”

Walt blinked.

“You mean her?”

“She’s a girl?”

“Yep, the man at the office said so.”

“Oh… How did you find her?”

Walt ran a calloused hand through his slicked-back hair.

“Well… You remember when mom dropped you off at school on Wednesday?”

Masha nodded.

“That’s because I was out by the lake.”

“At 7 o’clock?”

“4 o’clock.”

Masha’s eyes widened. “That’s early!”

“Early bird gets the worm.”

Walt’s pocket buzzed again.

“What were you doing there?”



Walt smiled.

“You sound like a detective, Mash.”


“Yea. All of these questions….”

“I just wanna know…”

Walt leaned over and ruffled her hair sending chestnut locks flopping over her eyes.

“I know… I went there because I needed air.”

“There’s air everywhere.”

“You learn that in science?”


“Well that’s true…” Walt gazed at the passing tree line, his mind arranging his thoughts in a row.

“Your mom and I… We had a little argument that night.”

“Are you going to divorce?”

Walt froze at the wheel, sending the car towards the edge of the path. Gaining control again, he shot Masha an incredulous glare.

“Wha--No, we--Where did you learn that word anyway?”


“Figures. No, we’re not getting a divorce, Jesus Christ….”

Walt shook the idea from his head.

“No, we just had an argument. Nothing big. I got mad, so I went to the lake.”

Masha nodded in understanding.

“So there I was sitting on the rock--“

“The big one?”

“You got it. The one near the dead tree. You could still see the fish jumping, so I knew I was gonna be lucky.”

Walt smiled, the event replaying itself in his head.

“Then what?” Masha pulled her legs to her chest, eyes wide as saucers.

“Well, I heard a snap. A big snap.”

“Like a stick?”

Walt nodded sagely. “Yep, but a big snap. Like a bear.”

“Or a Bigfoot.”

Walt stared at his daughter, her face glowing from her own joke.

“Sure. A big foot. Then I heard another. And another.”

Walt pointed to the hunting rifle lying across the backseats. “I brought that along--you remember when we saw the bear last Spring?”

“Yea! That was scary.” Masha shivered.

“Didn’t want that to happen again, so I brought the rifle. Picked it up as quiet as I could…”

Walt paused for dramatic effect.

“Flopped onto my belly…”

Masha sat like a statue.

“And held my breath. No sound at all, just the fish jumping.”

“And the snaps.”

“And the snaps. That’s when I saw her.”

Walt’s gaze caught the rear-view mirror"bits of fur still clinging to the bundled tarp in the truck bed.

“Was she big?” Masha asked, still absorbed by the tale.

“Oh yea. Bigger than me. Fatter too.”


“Hey...” Walt gave her a playful nudge.

“Then what?”

“Well… We just looked at each other. Forgot how long…”

Walt gestured again to the rifle.

“Then… She moved. Quickly, like a snake.”

“Is that when you got her?”

“Yep. Right here.” He said, drawing a tiny circle on his inner breast. Masha nodded, processing the details in her head.

“Took me a while to get her back home--didn’t expect to be hunting that day. Called the ranger… Then the vans showed up.”

“Was she going to eat you?”

Walt paused.

“I don’t know, Mash. I think so.”

The truck fell silent again. A piece of gravel smacked against the undercarriage.



“Are there more out there?”

Walt pushed the cigarette lighter button and fished another smoke from his breast pocket. Placing it in the corner of his mouth, he pulled the button out of the socket and held the edge, cherry red with heat, against the tip of the cigarette.


Replacing the button, he puffed some smoke out the window.

“Yea, honey?”

“Are there any more?”

Walt blinked, a flake of ash tumbling onto his shirt. The bullet hitting its mark. The skeletal man in the lab coat pumping his hand. An alien, and yet familiar wail.

“You hungry?”

Masha blinked.


“Tell you what--let’s grab a burger.”


The scratch of the pen on paper. The tarp unwrapped on the lab table, still sticky with blood and soiled hair. The date he scratched on the rifle stock. The buzz of the phone in his pocket. Walt exhaled, sending smoke from the front seat to the back, then out through the back window. The radio twanged out a mournful tune on an acoustic guitar. “Congratulations.” The word bounced around his skull with everything else.  

© 2016 dugle

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Added on February 25, 2016
Last Updated on March 8, 2016
Tags: fiction, short story, dialogue, nature, contest entry, bigfoot, sasquatch, samsquampsh




A California resident with way too many half-baked ideas flitting around in his head. I've written a few amateur articles for a travel site in Japan, but my real passion is writing stories. I take a L.. more..

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