ART writes-- It's been nearly twenty years since that day I met the mother Sasquatch and her child, but I remember it like yesterday. That day occurred during a year of changes for us, beginning when Elaine and I came into possession of some timberland acreage and the big old log house, where we still live today. It was 12 miles from the town of Monroe and another 30 miles to Seattle from there. In the other direction, toward the snowcapped Cascade Mountains, there was no road at all, only wilderness. Now there are roads and power lines and houses throughout that area, but in those days it was mostly virgin forest. Tuesday the 14th of October started out overcast and drizzling, as it so often does in the Great Pacific Northwest, where one simply learns to ignore rain. I had been working sporadically as a substitute English teacher all that year and just happened to have that day free, so I drove out from Seattle to work on the house. We wanted to move in, but had to make it livable first. But a whim sent me walking into the forest instead of working on the house as planned. Perhaps I had fantasized tracking the secret source of the little creek that runs down from the shaggy hills of evergreen forest, across the meadow and on past our house, eventually to merge with the Sultan River seven miles away. At that moment, it seemed logical enough for me to ignore all the work I had planned to do and just go for a walk in the drizzling rain. After all, I still hadn't yet seen all of the 80 acres of woodland Elaine and I had acquired along with the house. Although looking back, I now wonder about that whim, or if anything ever "just happens" to us. I discovered an overgrown trail paralleling the creek, the woods fairly open and easy to move through. A ten-minute hike slightly uphill led me to a big wide clearing we now call The Mother Meadow, after which the woods became wilder and denser. From there on up into the Cascade Mountains it was actually rain forest: thicker, darker, spookier and lush with bush and ferns and impenetrable tangles of mossy vine maple, very much a jungle. Hard to navigate, easy to get lost: a dangerous place to visit alone. But I never got around to exploring farther that day. Just as I came upon the meadow the drizzling stopped and the sun broke through the overcast sky, bringing the blue with it. The clearing sparkled with wet greenness, I saw a rainbow. I don't mean to go all flowery on you, but as you can tell from this prose I was feeling quite in touch with nature about then. Almost high, I was definitely in a state of altered perception. Or perhaps merely dizzy: it had been a slight climb most of the way. Still a city boy back then (at the age of 27), I was sweating and puffing, but felt that I--pioneer man himself--had just conquered the Cascades and was now surveying a secret place unknown to any other. Although somebody must have planted that one old apple tree standing in the middle of the meadow beside the creek I had been following. It was twisted and gnarled in dramatic style, heavy with spotted but healthy yellow apples, hundreds of them. I was impressed enough by the size and setting and abundance of that tree to generate a sudden fantasy that this was none other than the long lost Tree of Life Itself and this meadow the Garden of Eden. As I told you, I felt high and definitely open to the numinous. So excuse me for being so blatantly symbolic, just can't help it--I'm an English teacher. I'm trying to set the scene for what happens in that meadow and find myself attaching significance to everything I saw there. I'm still wondering if it was all a set-up. There were apples on the ground, but the best ones were highest up in the tree, naturally. It was the kind of tree that was made to be climbed, so up I went, high as I could get. Then I plucked the perfect apple and perched up there to eat it, without otherwise moving for a while. There was, however, a movement in the brush beyond the meadow. I stayed still, thinking that I might get to see a deer or a bear. Instead, two examples of an unexpected species of creature walked into view: a mother sasquatch and her baby. It is amusing to recall how skeptical most people, including myself, were concerning the existence of sasquatches back in those days. Today we have incontestable proof--Adam Leroy Forest himself. But until he came along sasquatches were considered mythic beasts, folklore fables. Until this exact historical moment I am now describing. I knew what the average man knew about sasquatches, popularly called BIGFOOT, having heard of reports by witnesses who had seen manlike beasts covered with hair walking around the Pacific Northwest, but I didn't actually believe in them. Nobody did. Bigfoot was National Inquisitor nonsense news, along with UFO sightings, the Loch Ness Monster, horoscopes; moderately entertaining, but hardly respected as fact. But it was fun to know the popular mythology anyway: that they were supposedly related to the Yeti, Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas; that they had been sighted from Alaska to California; that local Indian clans had sasquatch stories predating the arrival of white men; and that their highest population density was ostensibly right here in Washington State. However, I also knew that there had never once been demonstrated incontestable evidence of their existence other than plaster casts of oversized footprints, or films that could be (and were) fakes. And yet there I was, looking down from my tree at two of the genuine items; a big sasquatch and a little one, nor did I for an instant question their authenticity. They were clearly not people in monkey-suits; the big one was obviously female, she moved with weight, power and femininity that simply could not be hoaxed in real life. Of course I thought, here I am; one more eyewitness who no one will ever believe because I'd have no proof. Well, I was wrong. The mother led the baby by the hand. She was huge, over seven feet tall, covered with hair everywhere except for face and palms. Her body was stout with muscle, shoulders like an athlete's, but wide hips, large breasts and rounded buttocks evidencing femaleness. Her stature was not apelike at all; she walked as erectly as any human. I would have expected a Bigfoot to be grotesquely ugly, but her face was quite pretty in its own way, although by another racial standard: full lips, a broad nose with delicate nostrils, prominent cheekbones, bushy eyebrows, a low hairline above her barely exposed forehead and then hair everywhere else; her neck, her entire body, all covered by long and shaggy golden-red hair. I couldn't see her eyes. Nor did I really wish to because then she would be seeing mine and I wasn't ready for that. She was so large and powerful, arms and legs bulging with heavy muscle, that I felt quite intimidated as she approached my tree. I wasn't actually afraid, I assumed that if she saw me she would just run away, sasquatches had no reputation for being dangerous. Although I tried not to think about what she could do to me if she considered me a threat to her child. The little one was a comic-relief version of the mother; roly-poly, walking with the awkward stumble of a toddler, short and squat with oversized hands and feet. The child was male, although I could not yet determine that through all his fluffy "fur", golden brown in contrast to his mother's darker colored and glossy hair. That was Adam, of course. They went to the creek to drink, passing beneath me in the tree above them. She was looking about cautiously and curiously, as if trying to find something that should have been there but wasn't. She seemed to have some business there, anyway. She splashed water in his face, but made no attempt to wash her own self. Evidently that was not sasquatch custom, because I could smell her, a very strong odor. In fact, she stank like a sewer, the fumes wafting up to me in spite of the fifteen feet between us. I recalled that such a smell was consistent with many Bigfoot sightings and stories I had heard about. The odor was so bad that I almost gagged. When she was finished washing she played with the child. I distinctly heard her laugh and speak words of some language. And then I was amazed to hear her sing him a short little melody that almost sounded familiar. By now I was absolutely certain that these creatures had to be some kind of human being. I was all but holding my breath up in that tree, hiding but also wanting to see as much as I could before she noticed me and it was all over. I was more excited than afraid, for I could sense that she was a gentle person rather than some kind of dangerous animal. She stood up and stretched her body, very definitely female and perhaps an especially beautiful example of her race. I felt almost embarrassed, like a Peeping Tom checking out the niceties on an unsuspecting woman. And then I got to see her eyes. She looked up at me, deliberately and directly without a blink of surprise. She had evidently been aware I was there all along. Her eyes seemed very human, slightly asiatic with amazingly translucent golden-brown irises. They signaled neither fear nor aggression, rather cautious curiosity. Suddenly I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu, that I had met her before-- that I knew her. But I swiftly dismissed that as absurd: I had certainly never met any sasquatches before. I'm sure my own eyes displayed more agitation about being discovered than hers did, but we both remained still and calm, each looking into the other's eyes for that hypnotic moment, silently communicating something with this strange other creature. Peace, I suppose. I knew she was not going to attack me and she knew I had no wish to harm her or her child. But I was in no way prepared for her to ask me a question: "Da wa la sat?" I'm pretty certain that was what she said because she repeated the same four syllables while I was too dumbfounded to answer. I could tell it was a question, not because I understood either words or inflection, but because of how she expressed curiosity with her eyes and wrinkled brow, exactly as any human woman would. I finally found my voice, "I don't understand. Do you speak English?" I felt like an idiot for even asking that question of a Bigfoot, but had to say something just to let her know that I too spoke a language. Maybe she had asked me a similar question. Of course she couldn't understand me and gave up trying to ask. Instead she spoke to her little boy and he came over to her. It sounded something like "d'adam". It seemed that she was getting ready to go. "Hey, wait," I called softly, plucked an apple and tossed it down to her. She caught it deftly and passed it to her kid. So I tossed another one down for her. Then I took one myself and bit into it demonstratively. She bit hers, so did the child. Communion. She placed her hand on her child's head and said "d'adam" again, but to me. Obviously something about him: my baby? His name? Or a phrase: this is... Just to respond in some way I asked, "Adam?" The kid looked up at me too and...damned if he didn't smile! Suddenly I knew that mentally they were as human as I. She too gave me one last smile, a goodbye. Because then her eyes rattled violently and she stumbled forward from an impact from behind. Blood splattered from a sudden hole in her chest, a bullet hole. Then I heard the heavy caliber boom of the shot reverberating over the meadow. We were looking into each other's eyes when it happened. I think we both had the same expression: of surprise and horrible disbelief. Then she dropped to her knees. I looked out across the clearing but all I saw was a wisp of smoke drifting from the brush. I could not believe this. I could not believe some bastard had just shot her. She staggered to her feet. She was huge and strong and although the wound must have hurt her terribly, she was far from dead. She turned to find her baby, which had run off at the sound of the shot. She called out, reaching for and running toward him. Another shot ripped through her, this time from the front out the back, again splattering blood. Big bullets. I was screaming from my perch, "No no no, stop, you sonofabitch!" But my voice was drowned out in the crashes of four shots in quick succession. The she-sasquatch was knocked down again and lay writhing in bloodstained grass. Then there was silence, except for distant echoes of the shots. I could hear her raspy breathing, gurgling with blood and her thin piteous wail of pain. The gun smoke continued to drift from the brush, but there was no other sign of life out there. The baby sasquatch was out of sight, somewhere where the grass was tall. I heard it cry and it sounded remarkably like "Ma ma ma!" I could wait no longer, climbed down from the tree, not certain if that mad gunman was going to open fire on me as well. So I called out, "Don't shoot me too, you son of a bitch!" as I dropped to the ground, keeping low in the grass and moving over to where the big woman lay. She was obviously dying, some of the shots had been grouped with a terrible accuracy around the chest, but her heart was still pumping, the six bullet holes boiled with gushing blood. She was lying on her side, trying to breathe. Her eyes were open, but she saw nothing, gone into shock. I wanted to help her but there was nothing I could do. A man's voice called out from the forest's edge, "Get away from that damned thing, you idiot! It's not dead yet!" And then the sniper stepped into view from behind the bushes he had been using as cover. He was a large man, brown-haired, wearing an old Army field jacket and carrying a large caliber hunting rifle. He walked toward me and his hunting trophy without haste, calm and casual. I realized that I had seen him before, a few times in Monroe. Once when Elaine and I were checking out the hot spots in town, he had been playing pool in the Silver Dollar Tavern. Another time on the street with a pretty dark-haired woman and a little boy about three years old. He was one of those people you notice: tall, lean and muscular, mid- thirties, clean shaven with short military haircut, no nonsense style, striking grey-green eyes, strong featured face. A real Marlboro man. But there was also something callous and indifferent about him, a tough tightness that seemed to say "ex-soldier", or even "ex-Airborne Ranger". Perhaps it was just the way he held his rifle and his body, relaxed but ready. "I told you to get away from it and I mean it!" He stopped several feet away and fished a cigarette out of his jacket. I looked at him with rage. "Or what? You'll shoot me too?" I challenged him, although afraid he just might. His expression was neutral. "Look man, it's my kill, see. So you can just keep your hands off it, okay?" "Well, she's still alive, so she's not your kill yet." A slight expression of irritation touched his face. "Damn. Six shots and it's still alive? Where's the fucking heart in that thing?" He stepped closer to the dying sasquatch and then he caught the smell. "Whoo-eee, what a stench!" He coughed, almost gagged, staggered back a step. "God damn, that's bad! Phew!" Then he walked around it, still keeping his distance, as much for the smell as for any danger. "What a monster! It must weigh four-five hundred pounds!" I too could hardly breathe, although I had forgotten the smell. I wanted to cry, to shout, to beat this guy senseless. But my indignation and rage made me speechless, or perhaps it was the pointlessness of words. Until he said, "I guess you're glad I came along." "What?" I was amazed. "It had you treed. I saved you from this ferocious Bigfoot." "She...she didn't have me treed. We were getting along just fine. We... we were talking, goddamnit!" "Yeah? Well, best not to chance something like that. Wild animals can turn on you..." "God damn you mister," I said as levelly as I could, "you've just MURDERED a WOMAN! She's HUMAN!" He did not like to hear that at all. His eyes narrowed and his face solidified. "Yeah? I take it you don't appreciate the favor I just did you." "Favor? What favor? My God man..." "Never mind," he said sternly, "I don't want to hear it, so just shut up." He spoke calmly, but patted his rifle once to back up his command. "Here I go and save your life and you come on like some fucking Sierra Club Conservationist. For all I know you're just jealous you didn't bag it yourself. And you're full of shit about this thing being human. Look at that FUR--how many people have fur? And the SIZE of this thing-- it's clearly an ape of some sort." "She was speaking a language, I heard her. She SMILED at me, for chrissake! Look at her face, her posture, her feet--all human characteristics-- toes not prehensile..." "Bullshit." I was getting hysterical. "Look at her face, damn you, at least REALIZE what you've done. It's called Murder!" He made a "get-lost" wave, but did walk around the giant body that lay gasping in the grass and glanced at the face, ignoring me as best he could. Then said, "I'd better finish it off." I didn't want to see that. "She'll be dead soon enough. Tell me, why did you do it?" He looked at me across her body. In his field jacket and with his rifle he looked like a professional soldier and I could see that he was reluctant to put that last bullet into her now that he had seen her face. "I was hunting for deer and I got a Bigfoot instead. I couldn't pass it up. Hell, I'm the only man who has ever caught one--I'll be famous, maybe even rich!" "If you don't go to prison," I mentioned. He spat. "Bullshit, I say." "Have you got a deer license?" He nodded. "How about a Bigfoot license?" He shrugged. "Had to shoot it. To save your life." I shook my head. "I was in no danger and I'll testify to that in court!" Not a smart thing to say at that moment, but I was operating on emotion, not intellect. He gave me a severe look of disbelief, then hefted the weight of his rifle in both hands as an unspoken threat. "Man, maybe you should cool it, all right?" Then he relaxed and said, "Anyway, it wasn't murder, as you say, but Self-Defense." "Oh come on, I saw it all. You shot her from behind. She didn't even know you were there." He shrugged again and smiled. "That's your word against mine, now, isn't it?" Then the baby sasquatch cried out again. We both saw it at the edge of the clearing, looking back to find its mother. The hunter changed his tone to me. "Look, if you help me catch the pup maybe we can take it alive. It should be worth some bucks." "Help you? I'd rather shoot you! Leave it alone!" "Screw you then, I'll just catch it myself. But if I have to shoot it, that'll be your own fault, since you love these things so much." He moved off after the child. I'll admit it, he scared me. He was like walking death, the embodiment of the war-man and I had no doubt that he would shoot me if he deemed it necessary--perhaps only to wound me, if that would do the job. But I knew it would hurt to be shot, so I did not feel especially brave and I have never been a fighter, but this was such clear-cut Good and Evil and that happens so rarely in life that one must pay attention when it does. Suddenly I remembered that I, in fact, owned the very land where this drama was taking place, which meant that The Law was on my side, just by chance for once. "No, hold it you!" I demanded, "You're trespassing! This is my land and I want you out of here and if you shoot at anything else here I'll have you arrested!" He looked back at me as if I was crazy, then laughed and waved his rifle at the trees and mountains and said, "Yeah? Well, go ahead, arrest me!" Then of course, he continued on after the baby sasquatch at a brisk pace. I ran after him, shouting and swearing done with. I think I went berserk, some mad energy flowed through me with all the authority I would need. As I came up behind him at a run, he turned smoothly and pointed his rifle at my chest. If I'd been capable of rational thought just then I surely would have stopped, but fortunately he was still calm enough to consider the consequences of actually shooting me and did not pull the trigger. I crashed into him, grabbing his rifle, but then went down as he applied some expert military moves on me. He hurt me with his knee and I lost my glasses, but I never let go of the rifle, even though he was a much better fighter. And yet, somehow I actually ended up clubbing him with it until he surrendered. I took his wallet at gunpoint--now HE believed that I just might be hysterical enough shoot him--and I kept the driver's license to give to the police. I read that his name was Felix Peter Sinsley and he lived in Monroe. Then I told him to leave at once. "I want my rifle first," he said. "I'll leave it with the police in town," I told him, "along with charges of trespassing and murder, you can pick it up there." "What about the Bigfoot? That's MY catch!" "The coroner's office will have that. You can claim it there, if you dare." He left, but his eyes promised trouble. Lots of it. When I looked to the sasquatch again she was already dead. I gave a brief search for the baby but couldn't see it. I was relieved that it had escaped, but wondered if it was old enough to care of itself.
Adam out of Eden