Bigfoot: Three Small Stories
Rebecca King


Every few nights, Bigfoot picks up after the men who hunt him. Now that winter has receded and still-silver buds line the branches of the trees, they've come again. Even in the moonlight, he finds the signs of their presence: cigarette butts and energy bar wrappers, duck calls and shotgun shells pressed deep into the mud. He gathers these into a black Hefty trash bag, which he will later deposit in the dumpster at the campsite to the east.

And then, at least for a little while, the forest will look like his again.

Sometimes Bigfoot watches them as they watch for him. He smells them: beef jerky, tobacco, sweat, and coffee. He hears the clack of their camera shutters, their clumsy march through the undergrowth, their quick breaths, and even quicker hearts. He follows them as they study their maps, their books, the blips on the their GPS screens, so intent that he's seen them walk into trees. He watches them get lost, and then found again. Eventually, they all find their way.

Tonight, he finds one of their maps, wadded and whistling in a thistle bush. The paper has been rained on and dried again in the sun. It is brittle and crinkles like an autumn leaf in his fingers as he unfolds it. In the moonlight, he studies the green and blue blobs, the rainbow- colored trails numbered and named, but no forest.

No wonder they get lost, he thinks. No wonder they've never found him.


Each week during the summer, Bigfoot raids the dumpsters outside the Girl Scout camp near the lake in his woods. He brings any reading material he can scavenge back to his cave for the long winter nights, still months away. He towers the horse books and girl detective novels to the sides, and stacks the magazines, Seventeen and Teen Vogue, along the back. From these, he learns how to attract mates, apply eyeliner, and get over heartbreak. Of course, all the articles work on the basic premise that one has others to talk to, to love.

Within pages of the magazines, he finds pictures of attractive young people running, hiding from the gaze of those camera lenses. They turn their heads. They cover their faces with hat bills, hoods, sunglasses, and hair. Sometimes, they too wish to remain unseen.

Bigfoot tears their faces from the binding and sticks them to his cave walls with sap, and at night the moonlight bounces off the glossy pages like they are water. In his mind, they commiserate about the restlessness of those hunters, the people who want to take their photograph. They talk about the native peoples who once lived in his woods, who thought cameras didn't only capture images, but stole pieces of your soul. In that cave, they know that the price of a picture is freedom.


One day, as Bigfoot searches through the Girl Scout camp dumpster near the lake in his woods, he discovers some precocious little girl has thrown out three issues of National Geographic. The yellow covers are a treasure, a welcome break from his normal finds, and he rushes back to his cave to read them, forgetting all about collecting fungi and moss for his dinner. In his den, he picks up the first issue hungrily, which is, to his delight, about the ocean. Bigfoot, of course, cannot swim, and so he might as well be looking at pictures of Jupiter. He ogles the bright coral reefs and the herds of shining fish that dart through cerulean water.

Reverently, he flips through the glossy pages, reading about the ocean's unknown secrets—only 5% has been explored—and the strange undiscovered species that might exist along its floor, until he reaches the second feature story about a whale. This whale doesn't have a herd. It swims alone along the tip of Africa, singing in a pitch no other whales can hear, in a register that gets lost in the deep, dark parts of the ocean. Still, the whale cries out as it swims. It doesn't know that its voice can't be heard by its kind, that it will never be found.

Bigfoot has never used his voice. In fact, he doubts that he has one. If he called, he wonders, who would find him? He doubts other bigfoot would come. Only they would come with their cameras and maps. They'd turn him into another expose, another pitiful oddity like the whale, another forest to be mapped and dissected. He tears the blue whale's picture from the yellow binding and hangs him next to the celebrities on his wall as an example.

This is what they want from us, he reminds the faces, and they agree with glossy eyes.

But later, in the safety of the dark night, as he stares at the waves of rock above his head, Bigfoot decides that if he had a voice, if bigfoot could swim, he would find that whale in the ocean and tell him he's been heard. As sleep comes and his eyes grow too heavy to open, Bigfoot imagines the two of them. Together they would swim deeper, past the pollution and trash, past the sunlight and warmth where their cameras can still find you, deep into the dark and undiscovered parts of the ocean, ninety-five percent of it unknown. Ninety-five percent of it theirs.

Rebecca King lives in the American Midwest. The founder of Origami Zoo Press, she has stories in SmokeLong Quarterly, Corium, Decomp and others.

Detail of art on main page courtesy of Philip Kirk.

W i g l e a f               01-09-15                                [home]