Chapter 4: Hacienda Forest
It was time to ask ourselves what we were planning to do about
little Adam. It was only the first day and we had already run up
against the walls of the real world--jobs, time, logistics. Were
we ready to take on a baby sasquatch? Was it legal to keep him?
Did we even WANT to? Would he be better off with someone trained
to deal with...well, sasquatches?
"Maybe we should turn him over to the government," I suggested.
"What? How would YOU like to be turned over to the government?"
Elaine was indignant.
"Some scientific institution, then."
"God, Art, have you no heart?"
"Sure, but what are we getting ourselves in for? Raising a
sasquatch ourselves? You never wanted to be a mother before."
"I can't be. You know that," she said. Well, there it was.
"But this isn't even a human baby," I said. "And sure, he's
cute, but what happens when he grows up? This kid's going to be
bigger than anyone you've ever seen."
"Do you think he'll become dangerous?"
"No, I don't think so, sasquatches don't seem to have that
reputation. The mother didn't seem to be. But who knows?"
"We keep him," Elaine said, just like that.
That Elaine couldn't have a baby herself had never been a problem.
At first she'd said that she didn't really care, but later she
started casually mentioning "maybe adopting one someday". No
concrete plans were ever made, it was just something she brought
up now and then.
I'd never been especially interested in changing our lives as
drastically as a baby would, although I'd never have denied her
one if it was important to her. But looking over at that baby
monster, which had now fallen asleep against Elaine, I could only
say one thing.
In that moment I seemed to feel electricity zapping around the
room between the three of us. Elaine felt it too, I could see it
in her face. We were on the brink of a fantastic adventure and
we both knew it. This was Fate, this was Cosmic and we were
right in the middle of it.
And it fit into the tapestry of fantastic coincidences that had
structured our lives together: how we had met, how we had been
given this house and land, so that we could be here to receive
Adam out of Eden. It was meant to be, had all been arranged, we
had been Chosen. You don't walk away from something like this.
"I'd better drive in to a phone again," I said, "and leave a
message on the school district's answering machine that I can't
be on call for a while. Until we figure out how to do this."
Elaine nodded, but she looked nervous.
"I guess you'll have to be alone with...Our Little Boy at some
point anyway," I shrugged, "if we're going to keep him."
She nodded again. "Pick up more supplies for the siege. Safeway's
open until 9:00."
"You'll be all right?"
"Unless the sasquatches come and get me." She smiled, trying to
treat the idea as a joke.
I bought an evening newspaper in town. On the front page a large
black and white photograph of the sasquatch mother's face, close-
up, eyes closed, almost pretty, looking more asleep than dead.
The story went on to mention "...discrepancies in the reports of
the two witnesses of the shooting...
There was my name, Sinsley's, I anxiously looked for my address
as well, but it had fortunately not yet been published. I was,
however, glad to read that "...there have been a deluge of
protests against the shooting, including a citizen's charge of
Murder against the hunter. Legal action upon any such charges
would have to be pending a determination as to whether a Bigfoot
is legally an ape or a human being..."
"Nothing about the baby," Elaine observed.
"Well, I certainly didn't tell them about it, or we'd have had
every Bigfoot hunter in the world out here after it."
"But Sinsley...he didn't say anything either?"
"I guess not. I think when he started to realize how pissed off
people were at him for shooting her, he was afraid to mention
that she was a mother with a child."
"Then our secret is safe...for a while," she reckoned.
B I G F O O T E X I S T S !
For the first time ever there is unequivocal proof that
the mythical creature known as Bigfoot actually does
exist. A female of the species was shot by a hunter
today and the body was recovered by a team of Snohomish
Little Adam slept in a bed that night. But he threw off the
blanket Elaine tried to lay on him, too warm for such a furry
guy. We figured he also needed lots of fresh air, so we put him
upstairs in a room where the windows were not yet repaired. It
was almost like being outside.
Of course he was also free to run away from that open room, but
we could only hope he wouldn't. It's just that we were about to
make him part of our family, not our prisoner. So we might as
well start out as relaxed as possible.
Basically, we moved into the log cabin that night. It wasn't
quite livable yet, but we had no choice. I stayed with the baby
and worked on the house full-time, Elaine commuted to Boeing to
earn money. Every night she came back with a load of our things
from the apartment in Seattle until only the big furniture
It was a long commute for Elaine, 55 minutes each way to the
Boeing Plant in Renton, but we would need money to live on and
her job paid better than mine as a substitute teacher. We
decided that I would concentrate full-time on fixing the house.
I had spent several summers and college breaks working as a
carpenter, so I had the necessary skills. Fortunately, because
I had been working as a substitute that year, I had no contract
binding me to a job. But then we didn't have much money for the
materials it would take to finish the house.
It had gone by the name of "The Old Forest Place" for generations,
because it had never been a farm or a ranch, but we began jokingly
calling the place Hacienda Forest until we could come up with an
official name and it stuck; everyone calls it that now.
The house itself was spectacular: an enormous two-story log cabin
with sprawling covered porch in front, woodshed alongside, barn
behind. The interior was all raw wood and stone, high ceilings,
vast living room with a great stone fireplace, big kitchen, 3 other
rooms downstairs, 6 upstairs.
When we got it the place was a shambles, there was little glass
remaining in the windows and it was filled with 20 year's worth
of cobwebs. An old rusted hand pump still provided water from
the well, but there was no plumbing or electricity. The outhouse
had collapsed into its own hole. The stone fireplace was glorious
but the roof was just starting to leak. Behind the house the big
old barn was in fair condition, although there too the roof was iffy.
The 80 acres of land around the house were mostly wild woods,
there had been about 10 acres of cleared pasture land, now well
overgrown and sprouting thousands of young alder trees. Evergreen
forest was thick all around us and the unpaved driveway which
connected us to civilization had been too overgrown to drive
through when we first arrived, a quarter-mile tunnel through the
jungle. We loved it.
The house had been unusable when we got it, but we had camped out
beside it on weekends until we had cleaned it enough to camp out
inside it. The first big project had been to cut our way through
the driveway with machetes and axes so that we could get our
newly purchased old Chevy pickup somewhere near the house. I put
new cedar shingles on the roof--we still had enough money at that
time since we were both working. Then I started on the windows.
We'd only had the place a couple of months when the sasquatch
mother was shot. Then her baby moved in and so did we.
Old Uncle Wallace's grandfather, Cobham Forest, had built the
house in 1870, when they were the only family around for miles.
Old Cobham had liked his privacy and his grandson was the same.
Wallace Forest had lived there alone for many years after his
parents had died, becoming, in fact, a hermit. And when neighbors
moved in closer he abandoned the place, disappearing into the
mountains to be alone. No one saw Wallace for years at a time,
although he came into town occasionally to buy supplies, cashing
in small bags of gold he had panned from mountain streams. He
would spend a few days at home on the farm and then be gone into
the mountains for years again.
Elaine and I met Old Wallace once, at a family gathering. No one
in the family had seen or heard of him for so long that it was
assumed the crazy old coot was dead--he had to have been about 90
years old by then. But he just showed up that day at my Uncle
Gary's house in Woodinville, apparently as healthy as a much
younger man and demanded to interview all his nephews and nieces
so that he could decide who to give the old Forest place to.
I had heard of Old Wallace since I was a kid, the notorious family
hermit, but had never really believed in him. So I was intrigued
and took Elaine with me to the gathering just to meet him, with
no expectation of being given his house and land place because the
Forest Clan is rather large. I was also considered a black sheep
in those days because Elaine and I were "living in sin", while many
of my uncles and aunts and cousins were missionaries and preachers.
A lot of the Forest clan is very religious, but I hadn't gone to
church since I was 17. And even worse, I had a beard and long hair,
was obviously a hippy.
But at that family gathering there was also one other guy with beard
and long hair: Old Uncle Wallace. He was a fantastic old man,
white-whiskered and wrinkled, with hair much longer than my own.
Old Uncle Wallace was much more a hippie than I could ever be, a
wild man of the woods and yet amazingly lucid and intelligent.
He was hard to understand at first, as if he had a hard time
remembering English, having been living as a hermit for most of
his life alone up in the Cascades, I reckoned it was a wonder
he remembered how to talk at all.
I introduced Elaine to him and he got very excited about her and
the fact that we were living together without being married. He
"So many people in this family are crazy about rules, plumb
crazy!" he said (imagine colorful dialect here), "Me, I lives
alone so's I can make my own rules--and then I kin break 'em!"
He laughed when he talked with us. Later I found out that we
were the only ones he laughed with. "I see's you wears a beard,
Art," Old Wallace said to me, "man should wear a beard."
But it was Elaine whom he really liked. He seemed about to fall in
love with her, totally enchanted by her golden brown eyes, staring
at them all the while. Elaine is a beautiful woman, accustomed to
the admiration of men, but there was something mysterious about
it anyway. "It was so intense and immediate, even though he was
so old. He kept smiling at me in that goofy way and nodding his
head, as if we shared a secret," she later commented, "me
wondering what the secret was."
She told him how she had grown up on a ranch in Montana and
wanted to be out in the country again someday, how we had been
casually looking for some land.
"Wall, listen," he said, "You two are exactly who I'm lookin for.
I'll give you the farm on the condition that you can't sell it--
and that you live on it and take care of the place."
And he did, just gave it to us. We didn't believe it at first--
actually we figured it was a worthless lot with a rotted hut. But
he insisted we drive him out there immediately to see it and we
were dumbstruck over the big beautiful log cabin and eighty acres
of timberland. The next day he met us at a Realty Office in
Monroe and signed the property papers. There was a bundle of back
taxes to pay on it, but nothing compared to the value of the
Then he asked us to drive him up a logging road high into the
Cascade Mountains, where he got out of the car, loaded himself up
with his old canvas pack and marched off into the woods, not to
be seen again. His last words to us were, "Now you folks take
care of that place, fix it up right purty, make a home of it.
Good place for a kid to grow up, hee hee hee."
The weird thing was that Elaine had told Old Wallace that she
couldn't have children.
And now we did have a kid to grow up on the place. Although to
tell the truth, we were not yet certain if Adam was a person or a
pet. We couldn't determine if his intelligence was like a human
or like a chimpanzee, but sometimes he did seem stupid enough to
be a human infant.
Actually, there wasn't anything especially different about Adam
than any other baby. He was bigger and hairier, but behaved pretty
much as babies usually do: eating, shitting, sleeping, playing,
getting into stuff where they're not supposed to. Except that he
didn't ever cry, never bawled out loud anyway, just made pathetic
little mewing sounds like a kitten when he was upset. In fact he
was generally very quiet--probably an instinctive trait for
surviving in the wilderness--no goo goo's or gaa gaa's and no
laughing either, although he did smile when he was happy. But
in our daily routine, we forgot that he was of another species,
he was just our kid.
But we were also constantly reminded that he was actually from
another world than us: Adam was already toilet trained--sasquatch
style, of course--at least he never messed the house. He would
go out in the woods and do his stuff, without leaving any clue
that he had ever been there. Sounds nice and clean, but he did
have one nasty habit we had to break.
It didn't take long before our cute little baby sasquatch started
to stink again, because he urinated into his hands and smeared
himself with it, defecation too, it was awful. His mother had
probably taught him to do that and he just thought he was being
a good boy.
But we couldn't live with that and we told him so, as politely
as we could: by holding our noses and stepping back. We tried to
reprogram him with as little trauma as possible, so it was the
old "when you stinkee, no get cookie" trick. Lots of hugging and
affection when he was clean--but none when he smelled bad, no no.
It took a while, but he finally stopped doing it.
Of course, we wanted to keep his presence a secret for as long as
we could, because we knew that raising a baby sasquatch would
arouse a blast of sensationalism from the media and we didn't
want to deal with that yet--or ever. Which meant that we couldn't
just take him into town with us, nor leave him alone with a baby
sitter, one of us was always stuck with him. That became too
problematical, so we had to eventually call in a few trusted
friends to help us now and then.
Uncle Gary and Rhonda were really great, but they were careful
not to let the religious part of the family know anything. There
was already some dissatisfaction about how we "sinners" had been
given Old Wallace's land. Steve Bonneville, an old college buddy,
helped a lot.
It was amusing how quickly people adjusted to meeting a sasquatch
child: first overwhelming disbelief, then amazed acceptance,
eventual excited observation and finally amused nonchalance.
After a few hours of proximity it was everyday stuff-- the public
already knew that sasquatches did indeed exist: proved by the body
of that female Bigfoot which had been shot a few months before,
so of course there had to be baby sasquatches as well. This one
just happens to be living with Art and Elaine, no big deal.
We weren't sure if his real sasquatch name was Dadam or Adam or
something else entirely, but Adam was a good symbolic name in
our own language, so we kept calling him that: he had come from
"Eden", he was a primal man, etc-- also because the original
Hebrew word itself (ádám) means "man", which we hoped
that he was. My own family name, being Forest, also seemed
appropriate enough for a sasquatch. So we gave him the middle name
Leroy, suggesting the French le roi, ending up with Adam
Leroy Forest: Adam, king of the forest.
Some friends who eventually got in on the secret suggested names
like "Sammy Sasquatch" or "Billy Bigfoot", automatically thinking
of him in terms of "it" or a pet gorilla. But Elaine and I
strongly suspected that he was human, of a sort and wanted him
to have a chance for some dignity. Lord knows life in our society
was going to behard enough for him, even if he wasn't an idiot by
We even entertained the notion that sasquatches could possibly be
superior in intelligence to humans, mental as well as physical
giants who simply do not need civilization as a crutch. Adam was
an absolutely unknown quantity, anything was possible.
Except, of course, keeping Adam secret forever. We lived an
isolated life in the woods, but friends and family would visit.
They saw him, it was unavoidable. Some we trusted and told them
the truth, others we convinced that Adam was just an ape. No one
was supposed to tell, but a word slipped here and there anyway.
People we didn't know started coming around. We were fortunate not
to have a telephone at that time, it was difficult for strangers to
contact us, or even find us.
The story of the sasquatch shooting had gone international when
it broke, on every media, newspapers, television and magazines.
Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, National Geographic had all
displayed "Ms Bigfoot" on their covers, announcing "the greatest
zoological discovery of the century". The first wave had passed
us over, my name had been noted, but just as "a witness".
But now we dreaded the arrival of the sleazy tabloids--the National
Inquisitor, The Star, various Strange-But-True-TV documentary
makers--they had my name too, linked to the story and they were
still interested in milking that poor dead mother for headlines.
We knew they would come knocking at some point, probably very soon.
Indeed they did.