From the Night Factory
In the early 1970s, while living in Boulder, Colorado, I was invited to a party in the canyon. There were three off us in the 2002i BMW that Fred drove maddeningly fast along a narrow road that snaked into the Rockies. We arrived to a modern, block-shaped house jutting out of the canyon wall, and an array of plate glass windows showing a large room stuffed to the limit with young people drinking and dancing to rockabilly. It was not my kind of party. Cocktail parties and conversations are more my speed. This was a meat market for kids who came to the University of Colorado to ski. They were not interested in people like me, pensive, unathletic, and ugly.
I couldn't go home until the friends I came with were ready to go, so I took myself for a walk. I followed the road deeper into the canyon and the further I got from the house with the party, the darker it became. There were no other homes and no streetlights. It turned into a strange blackness without depth. My eyes did not know where to focus and the blackness felt to be right up against my face, as if I had succumbed to blindness. I slowed to a snailís pace until my vision adjusted and I could again find the road. The road was difficult to see, but was indicated by an ever-so-slight glare. Then I discovered the stars directly above, but still it was pitch darkness to either side and ahead.
The walk continued for a bit and then I was sure I could hear someone walking behind me. I stopped. I couldn't see anything, neither something there nor something not there. It was just black, as black behind as it was ahead. I walked on and soon I realized it, whatever it was, was walking behind me again. It stopped when I stopped. I couldn't go back because whatever it was stood between me and the party house. So I waited.
Nothing. I began walking again and it began walking again. It had waited with me. I considered if it were some freakish echo, only it was catching up! I could hear that its footsteps were heavier than a human's. I could hear it breathing, deep, powerful breaths beyond the capacity of smaller human lungs. This is when I remembered that the week before there had been a first-time sighting of Sasquatch in Colorado. Sasquatch, more popularly known as Bigfoot, is the abominable snowman of the Pacific Northwest, the American Yeti. Well, I certainly didn't believe in Sasquatch and this was a long way from his home ground, but a bear would answer nicely to the impressions I was getting from the heavy steps and powerful breathing. And now it had caught up.
Only it wasn't in the road. It was beside me. It wasn't close enough for me to reach out and touch, but it could have only been ten feet away. Ten feet did not feel like a great distance under the circumstances. But since it was beside me, it wasn't behind me, so I turned around and began walking back. It turned around, the sound of something massive shifting, the weight of it thumping the ground, and it walked back with me.
If I walked fast, it walked fast. If I walked faster still, it walked faster still. I wouldn't run because I knew some predators are signaled by a run that the chase is on. But I thought it was getting angry because now it was snorting, so I walked slower.
I was almost to the house when I could first make out that there was a dense wall of vegetation on my right. That was another reason the beast did not get closer, we were separated by what must have been a tall hedge. The only reason I now knew there was a hedge between us was because down the road before me, where I could see it indicated by different shades of black, I saw enough to know the hedge came to an end. Soon, nothing would separate me from this heavy shadow lumbering alongside.
There seemed no other way out. I wanted to be closer to the house, so I kept going. The invisible beast hadn't pounced on me yet, maybe it didn't want to. We walked together, my incredibly heavy, snorting beast and I, and when we got to the end of the hedge, I discovered it was a horse. That the horse didn't get any closer was probably because there was a fence or wire between us I couldn't see. I made it safely back to the party.
Mr Bentzman will continue to report here regularly about the events and concerns of his life. If you've any comments or suggestions, he would be pleased to hear from you.
Selected Suburban Soliloquies, the best of Mr Bentzman's earlier series of Snakeskin essays, is available as a book or as an ebook, from Amazon and elsewhere.