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The Beast Father of Westerly Farrell National Park

May 6, 2018

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The Beast Father of Westerly Farrell National Park

(for an older brother)

At ten years old, a spooky relative or a scary friend may have told you there had been a woman killed in nearby Westerly Farrell National Park. Her killer was never caught. This had not happened yesterday back then on that day you heard the tale. The horror legend was years old. Whoever had told you probably said the murder was mere months ago, but even then you knew. You knew a woman had died, but until that day, you did not know precisely where in Westerly Farrell National Park that this happened, nor any other detail. Gory minutiae was late to shimmer inside your mind’s eye. Whoever hoped to make you pee your pants surely told you about the Beast Father.

The Beast Father caught her,” they said then claimed, “And he fed her dismembered body parts to the animals.”

So much was nearly all of what you ever more heard. “There in Westerly Farrell National Park.”

Even so, there is where your family probably created your vacations. Westerly Farrell is where my own went camping and fishing. There are hiking trails, I’m sure you know about them, but my family never went hiking. Nobody was interested. My brother and sister and I went swimming.

We swam with the fishes, because there were so many. Have you seen them in Beckman Lake? They were always visible just beneath waves, they sometimes splashed from below. We went swimming almost all day almost every day. I wonder if the fish are still there; probably not with the drought. I do not know if swimming is even allowed anymore.

I wondered if the Beast Father was still there. Supposedly, he was; he still is. A bogeyman never dies – especially with all the fishes and tourists to eat. But Climate Change is real, and a killer madman cannot deny that. Even he has got to feed himself. I went looking for a man.

I was curious, and there was no risk. There had been no news of the Beast Father nor his victims since a thirty year old Halloween story was reprinted in the local newspaper twenty years ago. The writer laughed at himself then and pretended he was Stephen King. The impersonation of the more revered author was a costume. The reporter wore his stressed jeans and a tattered fleece jacket in a black and white photograph that he had snapped of himself on Merry Bluff in the park. Both scribes wore beards in that year. The photo appeared next to the printed text. Gary Foegel, I think was his name. I do not know what became of him and I have lived here all my life. The man might as well have vanished; for me, that is.

There had been nothing since I was a kid, and even that was old news – but, oh, the power of a tall tale. If the story is scary, it’s easier to remember – remembering is a survival mechanism. And this whole thing probably happened yesterday for a new ten year old kid. She or he may already dread to tremble alone in bed throughout this night.

That day I went to find the Beast Father, the sun was shining and I followed a trail in the park. This was ‘that’ trail; you know the one. Everyone says to this day, “If you want to meet the devil, take the path on the left, the untended, trodden footpath.”

The path was wide enough to fit a horse the year I climbed the trail – it’s all uphill. I noted and remember water must have washed through this way on its way downhill – smooth rocks resembling polished foreheads appeared from the yellow dirt. Even being dry, they were slippery. I almost broke my neck and I knew why nobody ever dared seek the local legend.

Even then, climbing back down was more risky than gaining the top of the hill and finding the second trail around the back. You now about the second trail, right? It’s not a secret. It’s on the maps, if you look.

So the road to Hell ends at a dead spring on the top of the hill; that sounds like a Greek fable, right? Like and unlike Sisyphus – hey, I bet that’s where the water came from and washed those rocks on the trail. Well, I guess that spring is not dead anymore, if that matters to anyone; after a hundred years.

There is a glade on top of the hill. I saw that and a bear. I almost crapped my pants for real, but before I did, I heard a hollow tone – someone chanted a song; a man, the man, I suspected. His rasping grunt vibrated the air with words I clearly understood. I remember what the Beast Father sang.

Atop the world to all the coasts

Our nation has long sailed

Our father dead

Our warriors bled

Through peril, his son prevailed.

Brother, we pledged to you our oath

You who adorned the crown

We took up oars

We lowered sails

And conquered foreign shores.

Oh, brother, when you, too, face death

Our love pledged to your son

For his promise

For your promise

And that of our father.

Our nation is yet one.

I can’t know if I sang that right. How did it sound? In honesty, I have no idea where it comes from. I never heard the song before. Have you? You will have if I sing it to you again. Play it back in your head and save me some time. I’ll tell you about the Beast Father.

I’m not talking about the wild fiction we tell each other as children. The Beast Father is nothing of whatever you have read of him in newspapers. I met him there, on that day. He is an element of nature. We all are, I suppose we all expect, but the Beast Father is integral. Where we mortal beings survive a matter of cycles, he stands outside the wheel and, at once, within.

Here is when I am telling someone all about the Beast Father, and they will buy me a beer – but not to listen to the whole story. No, I’d get my beer and they would tell me to go and sit down, stop talking. The same thing happened to him, whether you believe it. More than one brave stranger sought to explore the forest and get the Beast Father drunk.

I brought no beer with me that day; I don’t know anyone who could make it up that wash with that sort of load. Honest again, I never expected to find him. I did not expect to encounter a Brown bear, either.

Before the animal spotted me, it just laid down and curled in the long grass. I know the song rocked the bear to slumber; I myself felt a heavy serenity in my heart – like a load you are only content to carry for a king.

The presence of the Beast Father is exhausting. I do not believe there was any majestic magic connected to the whole deal. I graduated High School and all my electives were Science classes, and so, I was skeptical. It was hard to breathe, out there in the trees, and I think the Beast Father sucked oxygen out of the air, or maybe had his song. The bear fell asleep because of a de-oxygenated brain. My own head hurt after the affair.

I told you what happened, I talked to the man. The Beast Father came from my left in the shape of an average human being. He wore contemporary outdoor clothes. Most notable were the thistles and thorny briar stuck in his brunette hair, his beard, and the layers of cuffed socks. The needling weeds were as fruit plucked in passing. I had picked up a few on my pants.

The Beast Father wore oversize boots and multiple pairs of socks to fill that empty space. Each sock had been rolled over the top of the one below. All the them came folded at the shin over the top of worn combat boots. The thistle and briar were so thick here, they formed spiked wreaths around his denim clad calves.

The song had stopped and so had his approach. The bear yet slept yards away and I noticed the leaves on their branches stopped waving. I myself had not then noticed there was never a breeze. That is one of those after-facts – when you look at the evidence of that day, like the weather in the newspaper. You then realize something impossible happened.

Already overcome with awe, I asked the ordinary shambling figure in my peripheral vision, this man I knew at the core of my being was the Beast Father, I asked him, “What was that song? Were you singing?”

Aye, I don’t remember the song,” he told me. “I only remember the words and I guess that’s how it goes.”

It sounded like an anthem,” I commented.

He told me, “Aye, it is old.”

Fixated visually upon the sleeping bear, I was cautious when I asked, “Who are you?”

Mit B. Reign,” he told me. “The B is for Boris, and that Reign is not like rain falling from the sky. It’s what a king is suppose to do.”

A king,” I repeated yet somewhat absent. “People call you the Beast Father.”

I am,” he answered my accusation with no hesitation.

Stupid in youth, I informed him, “People say you killed a girl in Westerly Farrell Park.”

The legendary Beast Father laughed with the same extinguishing inhalation consumed by his song. A Mit B. Reign then said, “Seventy years ago! A girl did die, but it wasn’t this park and I was here.”

I heard about it then because I was asked so long ago.”

Are you old?” was the foolish thing I did wonder aloud.

Aye,” the Beast Father said. “One as me stands besides Time and we intervene upon our wish or need. I, myself, step inside Time only to be next to Nature. This, an example of our own selfish needs.”

Selfish needs?” I said to myself. Back then, I did not have the purist mind. My thoughts were libel to drift with the current in a water bed. I was somewhat then certain I knew how the Beast Father, Mit B. Reign, got his nickname. I did not need to ask, but the legend explained himself.

I feed birds and squirrels dried legumes, flower seeds, and those birds get suet throughout the year.”

Shaken from my own distraction and eager to disclaim my depraved imagination, I was clumsy and I asked the Beast Father non sequitur questions.

Where do you come from? Here, the park?”

Whether the Beast Father was an accustomed witness to stupid reverence or he overlooked my fumbling interview skills, the man answered. He told me, “No.”

I mean,” I said, “Were you born outside time? Is that where you come from?”

When were you born?” I recall I asked and I felt pretty coy about that.

The Beast Father told me, “I remember Prussia and the Empire in Austria – if that is what their nations are now called. Neither place is from whence I had come.”

Eager to actually be helpful, I asked, “Was that song you were singing your national anthem?”

Aye,” he said. “I don’t know, but your idea sounds truthful; and not only because you said as much.”

Well,” I proposed, “Your anthem is about a king, and Prussia and the Austrian Empire were there until, like, 1920 – if there was a king in the 1920s, that must have been an eastern European country…”

The Beast Father sought to correct me. “Great Britain has a king,” he said. I now realize what he was saying. Too late, I told him, “But your song was about sailing and conquering foreign lands.”

Aye, I suppose,” he mentioned.

I ventured to say, “You look Slavic, a little, maybe some Celtic blood in you.”

You probably came to America in the 1920s,” I suggested to the Beast Father. The man nodded his unkempt head. “What did you do then? How did you come to Westerly Farrell National Park?”

The bear still slept, and myself yet drowsy because of the song, I leaned against a stump. The Beast Father remained standing. He had stayed in place since we started our conversation.

The Beast Father revealed to me, “I worked as a hired hand…”

So, you are a mortal man,” I shouted, “Or were.”

Undistracted by my internal musings, the Beast Father continued to say, “I bought a small farm but lost everything in a fire. I never gained much and I always sought less.”

I came to the wilderness but lost everything, too, in the first year.”

I managed to blurt, “Man, horrible break.”

Without acknowledging my empathy, the Beast Father said about himself, “I was lucky to survive winter – the animals helped me.”

Now I help them survive the winters.”

What about the Law of Nature?” the early conservative inside me interrupted to protest. “What about the Cycle of Life?”

Nature is big and tough,” the Beast Father assured me. “Survival is a rigged game.”

But Nature doesn’t mind if somebody has to cheat to get by. She always finds ways to drop all of us to the ground.”

Uncomfortable with the direction the Beast Father sounded like he was taking our topic, I demanded, “So, you feed the animals. What else do you do? Do you have any powers? Do you do anything else?”

Do you control the animals?”

He said, “They don’t do what I tell them to do. You can’t make a feral animal follow your will. They must want to help.”

Oh,” I said unimpressed. “You have good English,” I told the Beast Father, “And nice clothes.”

Mit said, “I talk to everybody.”

Do many people come up here?” I wondered and asked.

The Beast Father informed me, “I get a lot of practice all the time talking with human being. I am given gifts.”

But people think you’re crazy,” I abruptly informed the man. “Well, those who don’t know you are really here.”

Mit replied, “I hope not for those I’ve talked with. Who says this. your friends? Have your friends talked to me?”

As I’ve told you,” I warned my new friend, “Nobody is even sure you’re here. Not just my friends think you’re a myth, but the whole world does… except, I guess, for a select few.”

The Beast Father then blessed me and said, “I think that now includes you.”

I’m not hiding,” he said. “People often find me when their not looking. No effort besides a climb is all; you found me and you only overheard I was here.”

His misconception had to be corrected. I confessed to the Beast Father. “What if I said I went looking for you before?”

Mit Reign said to me, “I would tell you, you didn’t really try at all.”

Then is when that bear I was telling you about, it woke up. The Beast Father did not have to tell me it was time to leave, because I remembered he reminded me there is no telling a wild omnivore what to do. There were no more words exchanged, just a hush from one of us – you can ask the Beast Father if you ever see him – I don’t remember which of us made a sound. We both waved farewell.

Go have your own experience with the immortal hairy man in the woods; he is there. If you don’t have a pass, go on Veteran’s Day when the park is open for free. I cannot be certain my own meant anything, but after these years, I have thought about that encounter.

There’s nothing very special about the Beast Father, except, maybe he has some authority because of who he is – living forever, and all. With authority, you don’t have to play by rules. But to gain that authority, an ordinary man must be selfless. You have to be kind and feed the little animals.

_END_

Matthew Sawyer

Read other stories not quite like this one at the author’s publisher page on Smashwords.com

 

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The Answer Is Green

July 28, 2014

What Color Is Your Blood?

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The Right To Be Wrong About Everything

October 3, 2013

Not so long ago, a couple Jehovah Witnesses came to my door and asked me the cliche question “Is it possible everything we know about the universe is wrong?”

“Certainly,” I exclaimed. The stale reply to their suited and sweating bromide came out of me automatically.

And I did not slam the door “In their faces” as my United Church of Christ Pastor demanded me and my hateful class of Christian Confirmation initiates. I was disobedient. I always have been. I am absolutely faithless and I had been one of those kids pinned to moral pillars only by pierced ankles made by fear. Fear for my lost-already immortal soul.

Then I grew up. But before, I came to know 1 Corinthians 13:11

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

That passage had been the root of my disbelief. The principles of Science came later and when I actually became curious about chemistry and physics. Neither field interested me so much as the Liberal Arts and especially the occult and Satanic aspects of its exposed myths and false magic.

Nevertheless, I understood the theories and hypotheses of Science stand until they are proven false. A true scientist expects they may be proven false. Such is science. And yes, everything we know about the universe may be wrong. And Science will correct itself even if men must admit there truly is a Higher Power.

Until then and the perspective never, men must question everything they know. So, what if everything we know about the universe is wrong? What then? Wild possibilities feed verdant imaginations. One would have to dream as a child to even contemplate answers. Indeed, the question itself sounds as if asked by a kid in grade school.

I don’t know who originally wondered the possibility. Now it’s a crusted setup wielded by Christian apologists as well as every other deluded cultist inclined to argue. Those folks swing this dying cat about, letting its weak screech account for every contention.

And following every round of exchanged blows, as I wipe away hiss and gore, I must wonder “What if any answer to THE question is wrong?”

Mine is a fair query. If we, as conversant, intelligent adults, willfully devolve into foolishness, I have a right to ask. Indeed, there is more to know.

And, uh, what if we know all there is know? That’s an ignorant question, I know. But I didn’t open the door – well, I guess I did. I only said hello to those Jehovah Witnesses because I’m still Midwestern polite. And I suspect like most people who yet live in Wisconsin, I regret smiling at anybody.

So, what if this is it? What if we know all there is know? Right, I’ve moved this goalpost. It’s difficult to find a firm foundation upon all this ridiculousness. But if I’m about to be inundated again with stuff historically-agnostic people made-up, I’ve got to know the parameters of this fiction.

What if God gave mankind all the information He knows? And is there a god that created him who didn’t tell him important details about reality? Or maybe even he doesn’t know.

 

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