Like a dog behind a window watching a squirrel dash through the yard, Sidney’s eyes lock on to the dirt shoulder across Sawblade Lane from the mouth of the long dirt driveway to the group home and stay stuck on it as he drives by.
“I could stop now and run all the stuff back there,” he offers, then immediately shakes his head and starts paying attention to the road in front of him again. “Nah, I don’t want to miss Victoria. That’s a long walk, I can go after.”
Doing so might pay off, too; having never gone camping, Sidney put an excruciatingly small amount of thought into tonight’s arboreal endeavor. At first dude figured he’d be fine with just the tent, then his mother had to remind him that it gets cold at night in the middle of November so he grabbed his big sleeping bag and pillow, although the pillow was his idea, as was the stuff he stuffed inside the sleeping bag. Now, as he’s turning onto Mane Road, another thought occurs to him: rather than sitting in the clearing in the middle of the woods like Albey the Mad Poet before he managed to get himself sustenance, Sidney might want to pick up a case of water and some snacks. He doesn’t need a meal, a few bags of chips and maybe a pack of hotdogs and buns will do him fine. Maybe some candy, too. Why the fuck not?
“Do I even have money for food?” Sidney asks himself, moving to dig his wallet out of his back pocket whilst cruising down Logger’s Pond’s main strip. There’s some green in there. “Yeah, I think I got enough. I don’t need that much food, I’m’a fill up on weed anyway.”
Sidney drops his wallet into one of the cupholders and returns his hand to the wheel. The rest of the drive is vastly uneventful, like the majority of drives through Logger’s Pond during the day. A moment is spent to ponder what it would be like to live in a town where it feels like things are actually going somewhere, then Sidney forgets what he was thinking about when he sees Harry’s coupe pulling out of the library parking lot.
“Oh Christ,” Sidney says as he casually smiles and waves. “Great, now I’m go’n’a have to see him twice today.”
Oh well; everything is as it should be, in Sidney’s words of the Mad Poet, just like it always was, just like it always will be. Sidney parks next to Tori’s coupe and takes her book off the top of the pile, then gets up out the car and stashes it into his big center pocket.
‘Huh,’ Sidney thinks to himself as he’s climbing the steps to the library, the very same steps where he met not only Mister Kyng but also that weird cloak-wearing douche who slashed his tires, ‘I didn’t even listen to music on the way over here. Weird.’
Weird, yes. Something to be concerned with for more than a few seconds, no. Sidney walks through the Logger’s Pond Public Library like he’s a regular walking into a restaurant – and that’s not very far off, now is it? – and pays Rhea Cooswood a smile and a peace sign hello. She scowls at him, as per usual; as far as Cooswood greetings go this isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s about as close to a hug as one can get. Sidney finds Victoria stacking books with Denny the Pudge all the way back in the nonfiction section where the tumbleweeds roll around crushin’ dust bunnies for sport. He hugs her from behind and kisses her neck a few times, much to the chagrin of Denny.
“Excuse you,” he says snottily. “This is a family-friendly facility, you know.”
“Oh I know,” Sidney says pertly as Tori giggles to herself. “Hang around homie, you might get to see us make a family.”
Disgusted, Denny leaves for the fiction aisles, giving Victoria and Sidney all the privacy he doesn’t want them to have.
“Hello,” Victoria says when she turns around to face him.
“Hello,” Sidney says, then locks lips with his love. “How are you?”
“I am wonderful,” she tells him sarcastically. “How are you?”
“I’m doin’ great,” Sidney says, then slips his hand into his pocket. “I have a surprise for you.”
“If you pull a condom out I’m calling Denny back over here,” she threatens, only halfway serious.
“You wish,” as he reveals the second signed copy of The Face of Fear. “Books came today, and this one is for you.”
“Oh shit, no way!” Victoria squeals, snatching the thing out of his hand. “Dude this looks so legit!”
“Right!” he agrees. “Signed it for ya, too.”
“Damn right you did,” she sasses. “What page is The Forest Bride on? I’m go’n’a read the shit out of this thing.”
“What?” he asks. “Oh, I took that out.”
Victoria looks utterly devastated.
“I’m just kidding,” Sidney assures her. “You’re really go’n’a read it, though?”
“Of course!” his love scowls at him. “What, did you think I wasn’t? What kind of a bitch would I be if I didn’t read my man’s first book?”
“Uh… not a bitch?” Sidney asks, hoping that was the right answer. “You don’t have to read it, babe.”
“I know,” his woman shrugs. “I want to, though. So what page is The Forest Bride on??”
“Just start from the beginning,” Sidney tries. He really does try. “You’ll get to it eventually.”
“No,” she says simply. “You said it’s the most fucked up thing ever written, I wan’a read it right now so I can react openly, honestly, and without a filter right to your stupid face.”
“I said it’s the most fucked up thing I’ve ever written. Other folks have definitely come up with worse.”
“Yeah, well, we’ll see. What page?”
Sidney sighs heartily. “One’fifty-five.”
“Of course you know the exact page number,” she mocks, flipping excitedly to page one hundred fifty-five. “Ooh, I like how the runes came out.”
“The Forest Bride,” Victoria begins epically. “A creature, by far the biggest and the strongest of all in their village, rises before the rest of the creatures. It crawls from its hut…” then she trails off as her voice moves from her mouth back into her mind. Time begins to crawl as Victoria’s eyes roam hungrily from line to line to line, waiting for the twistedness to start. When it does, she says, “Sidney.”
Victoria says nothing, simply keeps reading. Then, “Sidney.”
Eyes moving slowly from left to right, quickly back to the left, and slowly to the right.
“Sidney,” as she turns the page.
He knows he won’t be answered, but still he says, “Yes, Victoria?”
Tori says his name with worry in her voice sixteen more times before finishing the first subchapter of the seventh chapter (eighth if you include the Exordium) of Sidney’s first book. When she’s finished reading, she gapes up at him and slowly closes the book.
Manic giggles begin to bubble from his toothy grin.
“Was that?! ”
“‘Twas The Forest Bride, my dear. You like it?”
Victoria, mouth open, looks at the book. Then, up at Sidney’s eyes. Then, back at the book. Then, at Sidney Blake.
“If I didn’t know you, I would be extremely concerned.”
“So you liked it, then?” he asks. “Because the next book is going to be all Forest Bride.”
She stares at him for a second. “You’re shitting me, right?”
“Kind’a,” Sidney says with a smile. “The main character is go’n’a be based on Old Jack, that dude from the group home.”
“Jesus Christ,” she says with sad belief. “You’re not shitting me.”
“Oh come on, it won’t be that bad,” he says. “I don’t think Old Jack has it in him to do what the bigfoots do to their forest bride.”
“I guess,” Victoria says, looking now at the book. “Is uh… the whole book’s not like that, is it?”
“No, definitely not,” Sidney says without concern. “There’s a part where Albey finds the bigfoots’ nest, that’s kind’a dark, but The Forest Bride is the most disturbing part. It’s pretty much the only disturbing part, tell ya the truth.”
“Good,” she says with some relief. “I’m still go’n’a read the shit out of this, just to make sure you’re not lying.”
“Word,” he says, satisfied.
“How does it end? Do the uh… does the biggest and the strongest get… uh… danced with?”
“Nah, there is some comeuppance for him though,” Sidney spoils. “There’s a war at the end of the last chapter, and then in the Envoi…”
He trails off. What happens in the Envoi?
“And then in the Envoi… what?” Tori asks him. “What happens in the Envoi?”
“I…” Sidney says, squinting as though he’s trying to think really really hard. “I don’t… I don’t remember. The Dirtbiker is riding through the burnwoods, and…”
Sidney scratches the back of his head. “Shit, babe. I honestly can’t remember.”
“You can’t remember,” babe asks without making it sound like a question.
“Nope,” Sidney says innocently.
“You wrote the book,” Victoria says, as if only to confirm this, “but you can’t remember how it ends.”
“I really can’t remember,” he tells her. Then, to make himself not seem like a psycho, he says, “Or maybe I just don’t want to spoil it for you, to make sure you really read it.”
Tori rolls her eyes at her boyfriend. “You’re such a lame-ass.”
“Perhaps,” Sidney admits, then takes her by the hips and brings her close. “I’m your lame-ass, though.”
“Got that right,” she says, then flicks his nose with her finger.
“Ow!” Sidney says, grabbing his nose with both hands. “Damn, it’s like that then?”
“Yup,” Tori says confidently, then takes his hands in hers, stands up on her toes, and kisses the tip of his nose. “Thank you for the book, baby. I’m very excited to have something to do besides listen to my grandmother talk shit about her children all weekend.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Sidney says, all smiles, then leans in for a proper kiss. Tori leans back, curving him like her figure. “What?”
“After reading The Forest Bride I feel content with making you wait the weekend to kiss me again,” Tori says plainly, then turns to continue shelving the library’s books. “Skedaddle, Blake. Some of us have to work to make a living.”
“A’ight, I see how it is,” Sidney says, then pinches her on the ass. She doesn’t mind it. “Love you, Tori.”
“Love you too, baby.”
On the way towards the door Sidney sees Denny peeking around one of the shelves at him. Sidney drops the Pudge a wink and Denny swiftly disappears back between the stacks. He doesn’t see Cooswood on the way out but that’s just as well, she probably didn’t want to see him anyway, and as for Jason? Jason’s on vacation this week.
“Sweet,” Sidney says, closing his door and push-buttoning his car to life. “Two down, three to go.”
This has been the second subchapter of the last chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~