“Quiet, Ray!” Bug Braden whispered to his younger brother. Sharp pebbles and dry fir needles poked into their knees.
“Where they coming from?” Ray whispered as he whipped around and leaned against the tree, sitting now. He picked the matted weeds from his bare knees and rubbed them hard. Another rock bounced off the fir just a foot above Ray’s head. “Bug! Another rock.”
“But Bug,” said Ray as he turned again onto his knees, positioning himself directly behind his older brother.
“Listen Ray, shut up. We could be in a lot of trouble here.” Bug turned his head just enough so he could whisper into his brother’s ear, “Could be Roy and his gang out there trying to scare us.”
“Well it’s working. I’m scared.”
Bug laughed. Seven-year-old Ray comprehended subtle points very quickly, faster than himself, but he was three years younger making him all but a baby. And baby boys required watching out for, a lot of watching out for. “I’m going home,” Ray sobbed in a loud voice. Bug grabbed hold of Ray’s belt and pulled him down before he got to his feet. A bigger rock landed within inches of the tussling boys.
“Now you’ve done it. You little creep!”
“Stop calling me that! Mom said ...”
“Shut up!” Move around the tree. We’ve got to get out of the line of fire.”
“I’m going to tell Mom!”
“Listen here! ... What was that?” Bug pulled Ray closer and pushed him flat to the ground. Bug was trying hard not to think of the harm Roy had done fellows he’d caught out in the woods. He hated that his little brother was seeing him act like a coward. At least Ray would think that when it was all over, cowering as he was here, behind this fir. Before he knew it he was on his feet. “Stay here. Don’t move.”
Bug broke a dead branch off as he stepped from behind the tree. He held it pointed end out. A rock ricocheted off the tree and landed with a thud on a near mossy log. “All right you *%#%’s, come on out or get out of here!” He waited. Nothing. Nervously he swayed side to side, weight shifting from one foot to the other. He pounded the branch into the palm of his hand. He waited.
“Bug!” Ray screamed. “There in the tree!” Ray stumbled to Bug’s side. Bug looked to where Ray pointed. He could see nothing. But then the trunk
seemed to be moving. Something, a bear maybe, was coming down it.
“Let’s get out of here! Run!” Bug shoved his little brother ahead as he glanced back one last time before pushing down hard on his bike pedal. There stood a drooling sasquatch, huffing and slobbering. All Bug could think about was he wished it had been Roy throwing the rocks. And he was so glad his little brother didn’t see the face of that thing, ‘cause for sure he’d have nightmares. Forget Ray having nightmares, Bug was sure he’d have them for a long time after seeing an animal that is not suppose to exist. “Hurry up, Ray, let’s get out of here!”
It was many years before Bug Braden told his story. Even then he really didn’t want to tell it. But a TV crew was coming to town and Molly, his sweet wife, wanted to be at the town hall meeting. So before he knew it he was telling his story, but he left out the years and years of nightmares he had suffered. He was hoping the nightmares would not start again. But, he guessed they would.