“All right big guy, what’s the word? You comin’ with me or not?”
Albey’s journal, a three subject notebook of college ruled looseleaf with a solid green cover (aside from the blocky white text explaining all that) stares back up at him without saying a word. He decided he should definitely take his pen – it’s always a good idea to carry a pen, a lesson he learned from his old college roommate Nicholas – but the journal is decidedly less necessary.
“Well, the pen’s not technically necessary either,” Sidney reminds himself. “I’ve done all my notetaking in pencil so far, like any rational writer should, so I guess I don’t really need to take the pen.”
The pen comes out of the pocket to be scrutinized by a ‘man with more stubble on the left side of his face than on the right to ultimately be shoved back into the pocket. It’s always a good idea to carry a pen.
“But what about you, Journal?” Sidney asks himself more than he does the green notebook. “What about you?”
Journal, of course, does not give an answer. Not a verbal one, at least; despite its owner’s many assertions to the contrary, the green notebook named Journal does have feelings, and thoughts, and even a consciousness. It’s a very limited form of consciousness compared to beings like Sidney Blake who have a biological body with a brain spinning around inside its skull, but it’s a consciousness nonetheless, and a consciousness Sidney once got the chance to explore back in college. He pretends not to remember now – boy, does he ever pretend to have never experienced this wacky shit – but one night during the Jocelyn subchapter of the college chapter of Sidney’s life, the Jocelyn in question decided it would be funny to spike her beneficial friend’s bowl with something a little more minty than the standard cannabis they’d get from the on-campus dispensary. It didn’t take much, only a small pinch of the stuff, and despite the fact that Albey had no idea he was dealt a joker along with the jacks and queens, he played his hand perfectly. Dude killed the bowl in one big toke, held onto it like a friend with benefits who doesn’t quite understand his role in the arrangement, and then exhaled in pace with his falling back onto the bed. Jocelyn, after wiping the mirthful tears from her bright crystal blue eyes, proceeded to undo Albey’s pants and go about waking him in a way he’ll never be woken up in again for as long as he lives, he’s very sorry to be sure of, but Albey didn’t know it at first. Albey slipped out of his body, you see, as some folks who take a tiny pinch of salvia divinorum to the face often do, and his spirit went barreling through that strange dimension of reality lurking behind what one sees with eyes wide open like a bustling stagehand prancing around behind the scenes whilst the play is going on, and when he finally landed, he touched down in his notebook.
For a brief span of however many moments which felt more like endless eternities passing in cosmic insomnia, Sidney Blake became his journal named Journal. He did not think, he did not feel, and he was only aware as far as knowing he had incarnated into the form of a notebook he had not yet acquired for five dollars and ninety-nine cents from the school’s book store, but it happened. The diviner’s sage slapped Sidney “Albey” Blake across the back of the head so hard he got tossed out of it, hurled through time, and trapped in his notebook in the moment when it sat on the little writer’s desk in his bedroom back home being asked whether or not it was coming with its owner to the local library. And in that moment, he answered Nah.
Then he woke up to muffled giggling around the feeling of hot, slippery suction and forgot all about the out of body experience some folks would literally kill to have for themselves. Until now, that is, but he’ll be damned if he’ll admit it to himself. Thinking he’s being stalked in the woods by a goddamned bigfoot is one thing; thinking a famous author’s magnum opus is the prophecy of his life is one thing; smoking himself into a psychotic break after slugging through a day composed of the above two things and sprinting off into the woods at night is one thing, but believing an herb could make him incarnate as a notebook? Come on, that’s just ridiculous.
“So you’re not coming, then,” Albey decides, hastily scooting back from the desk and springing to his feet. “That’s fine, ‘man, no skin off my sack. Be well, Journal. Long days and pleasant nights.”
He slings his backpack on his back, then takes it back off to make sure he has everything he needs. Plain white binder, check. Manual pencil sharpener with little baggie to store the shavings until he has a fire and he can dispose of them properly, check. Pen and pencil in his pocket, check. Phone in his other pocket, check.
“Yep,” as Sidney slings the backpack back onto his shoulder, “got everything I need. Out the door I go.”
Out the door he goes.
Both of his parents are at work, but that’s neither fortunate nor unfortunate. That’s just kind’a what it is. Ashley and Jeremy were all sorts of worried about their troubled son during the days immediately following the forest episode/incident, but things have mellowed out considerably since then. They haven’t once smelled the aroma of pot smoke (aside from the couple times they went into Sidney’s room to check on him in the middle of the night, but there’s a very noticeable difference between the smell of a fresh powwow and the stink which resides from a session of days past, a difference Ashley and Jeremy Blake know all too well) in their house, nor have they come home to their little poet’s car missing from the driveway. As bass ackwards as it may seem, sometimes all a guy needs is a good clapping to the cranium to straighten him out.
“Yeah, great,” as Sidney hops’n’bops down the front steps to the driveway. “Now all I need is an income, a girlfriend, a place to live, friends… but hey, at least I don’t smoke weed all the time.”
At least Albey doesn’t smoke weed all the time. At least there’s no joy left in the worl–
“Nope. Not even go’n’a go there,” he decrees to himself as he lets his practically empty backpack flop to the passenger seat and climbs in after it. There are many ways to make things real, it seems, BUT, since he’s not even go’n’a go there, Sidney presses the ignition button and allows himself to be pleasantly surprised when the car comes to life. “Wait, what? I thought my parents took the keys so I couldn’t drive!”
Uh-huh, sure. That’s why he went to start the car, right?
As it turns out, Sidney’s parents didn’t sneak into his car which they are still paying for to steal the keys so he couldn’t drive it whilst reeling from his head injury he doesn’t clearly remember the details of. Sidney simply put (read: tossed and slammed) the key fob into the center console on his spastic drive home from The True Commons and totally forgot about it. This whole past week he’s been acting like he was stuck at home; Albey had himself convinced his folks were gaslighting him by refusing to acknowledge his missing keys (he never asked about them, of course, but that’s beside the point), a very out of character move for the elder Blakes but not something their adopted son would put past them. After the little powwow they had in his bedroom the other night, Sidney Blake wouldn’t put anything past Ashley and Jeremy Blake.
But they didn’t steal the keys, they’ve been here the whole time, and Albey was able to use the self-imposed period of house arrest to plan out not only the novel he’s going to write, but also the process he’s to follow in the writing of that novel. Everything worked out just as it needed to, as things always do. Everything happens for a reason after all.
Doubting this last sentiment, Albey backs out of his driveway and starts his crawl towards the top of Sawblade Lane. The seasons are beginning to change in Logger’s Pond and the trees are starting to change right along with ‘em, but only ever so slightly. To an outsider whose GPS had them take a wrong turn into Logger’s Pond for one horrifically unfortunate reason or another, it would look like prime summertime; it takes a seasoned backwoods veteran like one Sidney Blake to notice such a nuance in the leaves of the many trees. There are no browns, no oranges, no reds, and even describing the color as yellow would be overstating it, but not all the leaves are that pure hue of emerald green they were born with in the spring. Some of them have faded slightly, they’ve gone dim in a way, into a specific shade that’s almost green but not quite. It’s so, it’s so… chartreuse.
“Hell yeah,” as Sidney locks his phone and drops it back into the cupholder. “That’s the perfect name for it, too. Just fancy enough to come off as pretentious, I love it.”
Not sure whether he’s being sarcastic or not, Sidney puts his car back into drive and looks both ways before pulling out of the dirt shoulder across from the driveway where all those cops went that day he was taking a highride through town and thought he was going to be pulled over, but his foot doesn’t leave the break.
“What the hell is down there, anyway?” he wonders to himself, scratching the sparse patch of stubble on his right cheek. “I could just go, see for myself. I’ve asked, all I must do is receive.”
But yet he doesn’t, because Sidney knows himself too well to fall for some nonsense like that. He knows this is just an asinine ploy to procrastinate his arriving at the Logger’s Pond Public Library and further put off his transition between step one and step two of his patented novelwriting process.
“I don’t even know why I’m so anxious about it,” as his car climbs up onto the road. “Like, honestly, the inspiration is the hardest part, and I got that shit down like a clown in a storm drain, yo. I’m halfway done with step two, too, so like… what’s the problem, dude?”
Dude doesn’t tell himself what the problem is, and by the time he comes to the end of Sawblade Lane he forgets about his novelwriting anxiety altogether. Now this may sound good, but it’s not. Sometimes getting rid of a bully is a great thing, but sometimes it’s just an omen. Sometimes, the reason a bully decides to grow up and scram is not because (s)he decided to grow up at all, but because an even bigger, even homelier bully came to steal the crown.
Sidney Blake is going to the public library to do some research on bigfoot and finish taking notes in preparation for the novel he’s going to write. To get there, he has to drive up Mane Road all the way to the end where the turnoff for Bogspekti Park is, and that means he has to suffer through the vat of carcinogenic and hideously toxic energy of Logger’s Pond during the day. Logger’s Pond is the apotheosis of backwoods small towns, as Stephen King almost definitely wouldn’t say because a ‘man of his caliber wouldn’t be caught in Logger’s Pond unless he was murdered and buried here where nobody would find the body because such would involve coming here and getting out of the car – now that’s one hell of a thought, Jesus Christ, Sidney – and outsiders are not welcomed.
There’s no faking it, either; the pretense is so real Albey can feel it clotting the blood in his veins. He doesn’t come into town often, as he has everything he needs at home on Sawblade Lane (the two Ws, my good ‘man: weed and wilderness), and thus his car is not one the townsfolk often see driving through. This means that the townsfolk have to blatantly stare at him, you know, to acclimate themselves to this strange vehicle trespassing through their territory. They have to stop what they’re doing, pause mid-stride, even walk off the sidewalk and step so close to the stream of traffic the tips of their Timberland boots get scuffed by the rolling tires to stare at this strange young hoodlum with his shameful sort’a long hair menacingly rolling by in his awful sedan which he probably uses to smuggle drugs and child prostitutes.
“Okay,” as Sidney takes his cell phone into his hand and starts scrolling through his contacts in search of somebody to call. “If I act like they’re not there then maybe they’ll stop staring.”
They won’t, and he knows it, and he’s sure both of his parents are going to come home with stories about some evil gayboy with mud-colored hair that covers his ears lurking around town trying to abduct the eighth graders before they get too old to fit in with the rest of the trafficked goods, but that’s out of Albey’s control. They’re just haters, damn near every single smitten soul cursed to wallow in this towny embodiment of societal entropy and stagnation of the human race is so good at hating that they hate themselves without even knowing it, but there are a select few who rise above, a very small percentage who don’t wake up with the intention of making everybody around them’s lives as utterly miserable as possible, and it just so happens that Sidney is very good pals with the best of the best of ‘em.
Albey’s phone, speaker mode engaged, rings from the little pocket in the armrest on the driver’s side door. It rings again. Rings a third time. Starts to ring a fourth, then goes answered.
“Keaton! Hey ‘man, what’s good?!”
“Albey the Mad Poet, what a nice surprise. What’s crackin’?”
“Not a whole lot, my ‘man. How are you doin’?”
“I’m doing well, walkin’ home. Just got finished helping my little cousin move some weight at the pet store.”
“There’s a pet store in town?”
“Yeah ‘man, right on Mane Road. She just started working there, said she got the gig as a present for her birthday. Homegirl just turned sixteen last week.”
“Wow, that might be the worst present I’ve ever not received. Was she furious?”
“Nah, not at all. Her folks run a secondhand shop across the street and down a few treks, they wanted her to get some cashier training away from home before they make her a manager. Folks sometimes come through with their dogs, she likes it well enough.”
“Huh, well that’s awesome then. You said you were helping her move some weight?”
“Yeah,” Keaton chuckles, stretching the arm that’s not holding his phone to his ear. “Her bossguy couldn’t come in today and they got a delivery of dog food, like, fifty-pound bags. Tiny little thing couldn’t manage to get them off the ground, so she called me.”
“Damn, that’s freakin’… you’re a good dude, Keaton Quinn. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”
“They don’t! Hey, so what’s goin’ on? I love hearin’ from ya, but what’s the occasion, buddy?”
“Oh uh, I was just coming up Mane and the Loggers were shooting me with all sorts of stinkin’ eyes.” Sidney glances into his rearview mirror and sees the driver behind him picking his fat nose with his middle finger, obviously to flip Sidney off. “I got your text the other day and thought I’d call ya, chat a little bit.”
“Well that’s mighty kind, Sai Blake. I’m glad to hear you decided to leave your house. What are you gettin’ into?”
“Hittin’ the library to do a little research. I decided to write that Tee’acHe’Cee book after all, wouldn’t you know it.”
“No shit!” Keaton says incredulously, garnering stares of shock which melt into Ah, good ol’ Keaton Quinn smiles when the Loggers around him realize who just bleated the shit word in broad daylight. “That’s absolutely fantastic, Sidney. I’m not go’n’a lie, I probably won’t read it, but that’s only because I haven’t touched a book since we got out of high school. I’ll support ya any other way I can, broth’a.”
“Aw shit, Keaton, that’s so cool of you. Listen, you said you were walking home, right? Do you need a ride? I’m just about to pull into the library now but I can turn around real quick.”
“Nah it’s all good, sun’s shining too bright to not bask in the glow. I appreciate you, though.”
“You sure?” as Albey drives in a circle through the library’s tiny parking lot, preventing an especially crotchety librarian from pulling out and going home after a most repugnant morning shift that lasted a half-hour longer than it should have because the new hire decided to show up late for her first day, the nerve of the spoiled little snot-nosed kids of this awful millennial generation, it’s reprehensible, it’s incorrigible, it’s downright heinous!They all deserve to total their cars in automotive accidents and get flattened into screaming bloody pulps on the cold pavement whilst crawling away from the burning wreckage! May God strike down every last one of them with burning bolts of rapturous lightning!! “It’s really no trouble at all.”
“Yeah ‘man, I’m sure. I like walkin’ up The Heights, makes me feel like I can do anything.”
“That’s why I love ya, Keaton. A’ight buddy, I won’t keep ya any longer, I just parked. Y’boy’s got some notetaking to do.”
“That’s my boy. Good talkin’ to ya, Albey.”
“You too, Keaton. Peace, homie.”
“Well that was just downright pleasant.”
Albey slides his cell phone into his pocket, then unbuckles his seatbelt, then turns the sedan off. A rusty gray oldsmobile carrying a miserably old croon who’s waving her fists like she was screaming at her windshield passes so close to Sidney’s back bumper that he fears for the safety of her mirrors, but there is no collision. That’s just how folks in Logger’s Pond are – all bark and no bite. When the croon, ‘Lookin’ a bit like Rhea of the Coos, come to think of it,’ safely escorts herself out of the parking lot, Sidney opens the door and climbs out, hauling his backpack with him.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a lighter backpack in my life,” as he closes his door with his butt. “What a scam that college bullshit was. Fuck you, Louberg yoU. Fuck you very little.”
For the first time in a long while, Sidney Blake is feeling himself. It feels so good to be alive, baby! The air tastes clean in his nose, the sun feels warm on his skin, and the breeze is just cool enough to pull it all together with a chilling line of gooseflesh sent a’racing down his spine. There are five steps in the novelwriting process and five steps to climb to reach the glass doors of the Logger’s Pond Public Library, and Albey’s got all the inspiration he needs. He bounds to the platform two steps at a time and patiently waits for the glass doors to open in front of him.
Hello Commons, this has been the first subchapter of the third chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project, a novel about a writer who writes a novel about bigfoot.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Untitled Bigfoot Project and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~