“Wait, Harry,” Sidney says as they cruise into the woods. “What if the guy lives in Logger’s Pond? What if I just made a permanent enemy?”
“I doubt it, honestly,” Harry says nonchalantly. “We cover a lot of shit with the LogPond Gazette and nobody wearing a black cloak and slashing tires ever came up.” He sniffs loudly. “You’re probably fine, dude.”
“I know, but… wait, hold up.”
Harry puts pressure on the brakes, as though he was about to pull over into the shoulder again.
“No, keep driving, I mean… whatever. I forget exactly how long ago it was, the days kind’a blend together for me, but did you guys do a story about the group home guy who tried to break into my house?”
“Old Jack?” Harry asks fondly. “Hell yeah we did, that was one of the biggest stories we ever put to print. Real fuckin’ psycho, that’s for sure. Deserves to be locked up in that nuthouse if you ask me.”
It’s the funniest thing, Sidney actually didn’t ask him, but he’s just going to let that one slide, he thinks.
Yeah, definitely not going to dignify it.
“Okay, so you know Old Jack was able to escape the group home,” Sidney says, leading into, “and he was very clearly mentally unstable, a danger to himself and others.”
“I think you were the danger in that situation, dude,” Harry says, not unkindly. “Like, no offense, you fucked him up with that pencil and the glass in his feet. That was fuckin’ brilliant by the way, with the glass. Teach the fuckjob to try and come back for more.”
“The glass was an accident,” Sidney explains. “Remember that smoking pipe you, me, Keaton, and Carl smoked out of that time we all chilled at your campsite?”
“Yeah, uh…” he trails off to think. “You had a name for it, right?”
“Yeah, The Peace Piece.”
“Ahhh yeah, that’s right.”
“Yeah, so I uh… so when I was smoking a lot, I’m pretty sure it was the same day I had my Dark Tower episode, I kind’a… well, I thought there was something in the woods, a bigfoot or something; all I heard was this rustling and it freaked me the fuck out so I threw a bunch of rocks and my pipe at it. Talking about it now I’m pretty sure that was Old Jack that I heard, actually, but anyway, yeah, the night he uh, the night he made himself known he must have run through the broken glass and carried it in his feet back to my house. I stepped in it too, couldn’t really walk for about a week. It was rough.”
“Sounds rough, man.” A moment of smooth driving, a turn made onto some street that Albey doesn’t pay attention to, as he’s too busy looking for his man in black. “So what’s your point?”
“My point…? OH, right. So what if my cloaked guy is an escaped group home patient?”
The drive is silent again. So, so very silent.
“I uh…” Harry says, then takes a gulp of unease. “I didn’t consider that.”
So, so very silent.
They take another turn, then another turn, then a few more turns, or maybe a couple, maybe several, maybe some; Sidney can’t bother himself with keeping track of where they are and where they might be going, that’s what Harry’s doing (or at least supposed to be doing); Sidney is concerned only with finding the cloaked cunt who cut up his tires, nothing more and nothing less. That said, he does recognize when they come to the center of Dantez Furnace, the neighborhood itself shaped like a furnace the way the roads are laid out. It’s like a big square with a bunch of little squares inside of it, like a Russian matryoshka doll in a way, and at the center is a large square plot of land in which the high school sits. Stewart O. Bashby High, the place where both Carl and Jeremy work, the place which singlehandedly prepared Albey for life in smalltown Logger’s Pond and nowhere else in the world, the place which gave him the idea that college was not for everyone, especially not him, but Sidney went anyway, and just look how that fuckin’ turned out.
“Hey,” he says to Harry as they do a lap around the school. “You were going to tell me about Stewart O. Bashby, right?”
“Oh yeah,” Harry says. “How much do you know about the history of Logger’s Pond?”
“Not a whole lot, honestly,” Sidney says honestly. “Any chance you could give me the short version?”
Harry chuffs nasally. “There’s not a long version, don’t worry. It actually started on your street, Sawblade Lane. Back in the day this town was literally one road–”
“What do you mean back in the day? This town is still one road,” Sidney interrupts. “Mane Road. Everything is on that street, besides the school. And the houses. And farms and stuff. But the town itself is pretty much one hundred percent on Mane.”
“True, but I mean wayyy back in the day, like, when the town was founded. It was a deep-forest logging operation that became a place where folks lived. It started as Sawblade Lane, there was a lumber factory down at the bottom of it. That’s why the forest thins out when you get down there, they cut all the trees and didn’t bother replanting ‘em. Like, some of them grew back, but not all. Otherwise it would all be as thick as it is up at the top by Mane. The factory was obviously demolished, and then the land was turned into a cul-de-sac and a few houses – hey, you live down at the bottom there, right?”
“Yeah, on the left side of the circle. I’m hesitant to call it a cul-de-sac because it had a big circular planter in the middle instead of open space, but you pretty much got it.”
“Yeah… where was… okay, so before the factory was demolished there were four houses on Sawblade where folks lived, three which were attached to the factory and one, like, halfway up the road. Mane Road used to be a stretch of One’Fifteen – well, a stretch of the long dirt road that One’Fifteen used to be – but when the town became an actual town it got bought, or something. I don’t know, the modern shit kind of goes over my head, lots of political corruption, but in the old days there just were the four houses on Sawblade.
“So the guy who lived in the one house halfway up the road was named Aaron Dantez–”
“Like Dantez Furnace?”
“Yeah, and Iiron Heights too, which was originally Aaron Heights before they found a bunch of ripe iron there during one of the wars. Renamed it to Iiron, with two Is. So anyway, Dantez lived there in that fourth house halfway up the road with a couple other families, I think nine folks in total. He was a loner, didn’t have a family or anything, but he took care of those two families like they were his own. Down in the factory there were a lot more folks, laborers and their families, and they followed a guy named Stewart O. Bashby. Stew’ and Dantez were good friends, there was no animosity between them at all, there just wasn’t enough room for everybody to live down at the bottom so Dantez moved up the road and built himself a house when the factory closed.
“Oh, almost forgot, the factory closed down at the end of summer, I forget what year to be honest, sometime in the seventeen’hundreds I think. Maybe early eighteens. Regardless, the factory closed down and the folks were on their own so they turned to Dantez and Bashby to take care of them, and take care of them they did. Then the winter came, and things got bad. Real, real bad. I don’t think anybody died, but in what few journals were collected from back then it was pretty much unanimously referred to as The Dark Winter, so uh, y’know, do with that what you will.
“After The Dark Winter thawed away the town was in dire straits, so Bashby and Dantez came together and made a pact of sorts; over the years, those two and those two alone did everything they needed to do to make sure Logger’s Pond didn’t end up like the factory. They hustled, they robbed trains, they almost definitely killed a bunch of folks, merchant caravans and such; the result is what we have today: Logger’s Pond, a backwoods little town with its own food supply and education system and more or less everything it needs to keep on keepin’ on by itself. To honor the two leaders, the townsfolk name all of their stores and businesses after Stew’ Bashby and, when it came time to build them, the neighborhoods after Aaron Dantez.
“And yeah, man. That’s Logger’s Pond. Now you know.”
“Now I know,” Sidney says, his eyes dull with glaze. He zoned out completely during the back half of that, even stopped looking for the cloaked cunt. “Hey, where are we right now, ‘man?”
“We are just about to pull back onto Squirrelwood Terrace, which will bring us to Weaseldrift Drive, which then takes us to Mane Road. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see any men in black and purple cloaks.”
“Yeah, me either,” Sidney admits more to himself than to Harry. “Fuckin’ sucks.”
“Does it, though?” Harry asks seriously. “Like, I know I asked you this before, but I’m go’n’a ask you again: even if we caught the guy, what exactly were you going to do? Hop out of the car and tackle him, make him explain why he slashed your tires? Fine, I’ll give you that; then what?”
“I… don’t know. I guess, uhh…” Sidney sighs. “I just don’t get why someone would do that to me. Like, what the fuck? I hardly leave my house, I hang out at the library – I’m one of the few, the very few who hang out at the library – I keep to myself and I don’t bother anyone, yet I always catch dirty looks around town and attitude from cops and shit. Why does this fucking town hate me, Harry? Do you know? Because I don’t have the foggiest fucking idea.”
“I don’t think anyone hates you, Albey,” Harry says sincerely as he pulls onto Weaseldrift Drive. “I don’t think anybody… well, maybe not anybody, but like… you really think the folks of this town are out there thinkin’ about your ass all the time? Excuse me for saying it, because I know this is going to come off as snotty, but don’t you think you’re being a little arrogant?”
“Maybe even a little narcissistic?”
Excuse the fuck you, Harrington Bogspekti? Are you rea–
“Like, don’t get me wrong man, I don’t hate you – I don’t exactly want to be your best friend, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I want to be your friend, either. That’s not to say I carry any ill will against you; we’re just different guys, like… there’s a saying, uh… oh yeah: Don’t befriend an elephant trainer if you don’t have room for an elephant in your house. Like, obviously you’re not an elephant trainer, but you are an author, you write books–… well, you’re writing this one book, but from the way you talk about it it sounds like it’s going to be the first of many, and I just don’t read books. I don’t care to read books, so I’m not going to spend all my time keeping up with a guy who writes ‘em. And that’s okay.”
Harry turns to Sidney then, who isn’t looking at him. Not out of animosity, just out of… well… it’s hard to explain. Malaise, mayhap, or just plain awkwardity, but it doesn’t feel awkward, or negative in any way. It’s just like… it’s kind’a like… he’s almost glad Harry is telling him all of this upfront, like, being straightforward about it, but… but what?
“That’s okay, right Sidney?” Harry asks earnestly. “Like, I don’t want a war with you, but I don’t want to build a city together either. You’re chill with that, right?”
“Yeah, ‘man,” Sidney says, turning slow to face what feels like his greatest fear: a human being who gets him but doesn’t want anything to do with him. As it turns out, that fear’s not so horrible to look at. A little uncomfortable, sure, for now at least, especially because they’re stuck in a car together, but not so horrible. Huh. “Of course that’s fine, I don’t want a war with you either. But… like…”
“Why did you offer to drive me around and look for the cunt in the cloak?”
“I didn’t,” Harry reminds him, then chuckles. “I didn’t, dude. You asked me if I was doing anything, I said I was getting food and then lied about the fact that it could wait – don’t know why I lied, but at this point I feel like we can just be honest with each other – and you said we were going to do woods kid shit, which apparently means stalking after and then beating the shit out of someone who did you wrong.”
“Yeah, woods kid shit,” Sidney says with a perverted sort of pride. “We’re like the ghetto except without all the sidewalks and concrete. In a way we’re dirtier.”
“I guess we are,” says Harry. “Not really me, though. I only moved here a few years ago, like, I grew up in mansions with pools and shit. I still live in a mansion with a pool, I just don’t use it much anymore.”
“I feel you,” Sidney says, not feeling him but also not wanting to hear about his pool and mansion. “But…”
“I don’t know, honestly,” Sidney says without thinking, but the truth really is that he doesn’t know.
“Me either,” Harry says, then puts out a hand. “How about we call each other acquaintances and keep it at that?”
“How about we don’t call each other anything?” Sidney says, then shakes his hand. “How about we just keep on livin’ and keep in mind that we know who each other are.”
“Shit, that works for me,” Harry says. “Hey, so–… uh, you want to go home now, right?”
“Oh, I mean,” Sidney fumbles. They’re about to turn onto Sawblade Lane, whoops. Sidney really needs to start paying more attention to his surroundings, this is getting a tad bit ridiculous. Harrington could have taken him anywhere. “I guess so, yeah.”
“Word. I assumed, because you can’t drive your car and all, but I figured I’d ask.”
They turn off Mane Road and disappear into the thickest of dense woods.
“No, yeah, it’s cool.” After a few moments, “I uh–… I mean, I kind’a wanted to go back to the library and tell Tori what happened.”
“Can’t you just text her?” Harry asks. “You said your phone was at home, right?”
“Yeah, well, I mean… she’s my woman, Harry, I’d like to see her if possible. You’re going back there, right?”
“Yeah,” Harry sighs, “yeah I am. You’re comin’ back with me?”
“I’m comin’ back with ya, if that’s all the same with you.”
Harry shrugs. “Yeah, might as well.”
And so these two guys who know of each other’s existence drive all the way down the twisted and tortuous Sawblade Lane until they come to the circle with the planter at the end, and Harry takes a right and goes around that circle, and just as he’s about to get back on the main stretch, mere moments after they pass by the long driveway of Sidney’s parents, a blur of black leaps out of the planter directly in the path of Harry’s car.
And Harry hits this blur of black with the bumper and then the front wheels of his car.
And Harry, out of sheer astonishment and nothing else, slams his foot down hard on the gas.
And Harry hits the figure cloaked in black with the back wheels of his car.
And Harry skids to a stop at the end of Sawblade Land, in the very same spot Sidney parked his car the night Old Jack came a’humpin’, and his hands drop from the steering wheel.
And Harry and Sidney, the blood frozen like red ice in their veins, stare unblinkingly into the rearview mirror.
And the figure cloaked in black does not stir.
This has been the sixth subchapter of the fifth chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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