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Towpath_Bluffs - By Perry - 11/13/03 he posted this on the RDR Forum

Perry is an RDR Forum member who knows how to write some really great stories .............I love all of his work.......because he writes them for ME and about Sasquatch!!......;)...............read on if you dare............

Towpath Bluffs


Rubber touched the pavement with a screech as the Boeing 727 landed at Baltimore/Washington International. A reunion of sorts was taking place as friends from around the country were joining together to remember old times and to invent a few new memories. For Ralph Davis, it would be bittersweet. Two of his long time friends, Mojo and Rene were flying in from San Francisco and Wisconsin, but he knew only to well that they would have to leave again in only one short week. They were childhood friends, buddies that shared everything, but jobs and family obligations had torn them in separate directions. At least he would have this week and he was bound and determined to make it as memorable as possible.
The drive from the airport took milliseconds compared to the grueling time it had taken Ralph to get there. Traffic into the city was backed up for miles. An eighteen wheeler had swerved into another lane, crushing a small compact car making it even smaller than when it had rolled off the assembly line. Ralph had wondered if anyone could have survived such a crash. His question was answered as the three men traveled west. Three bodies covered by rain ponchos lay lifeless on the concrete next to the wreckage; one appeared to be a child.
“I hope that isn’t anyone I know” Ralph quietly murmured.
Mojo and Rene rubbernecked to catch a glimpse but were only too sorry they had.
Attempting to change the mood, Rene bellowed “So what do you have planned for us Ralph… keg parties and strip joints?”
Ralph smiled as did Mojo, remembering the days before they were married and had no care in the world except partying and then partying some more.
“Actually, I thought we would spend a quiet week fishing. I know a great spot that is miles from everywhere…and more trout than you can imagine.”
The idea sounded good to Mojo. He dealt with high finance, although lately, his thoughts had drifted elsewhere. After suffering from a mini heart attack at the age of 34, he had taken up photography. He had plenty of money in the bank and could retire if he wanted. It was tempting.
Mojo confirmed his thoughts aloud then said, “how’s that sound to you Rene?”
“Fine with me…I am sick of looking at people, especially women.”
Ralph laughed then said, “Oh I feel for ya Bro…a gynecologist…must be tough.”
Rene smiled then replied, “well ya know, it’s not all eighteen year old hotties that come in for exams…imagine having to see your grandmother naked from the waist down. I have nightmares. I can relate to Vietnam vets that still sleep with there rifles.”
Ralph and Mojo looked at Rene, seriously for a moment, then shut him down in a barrage of laughter and heckling. Who was he kidding?
Before the three men had noticed, they had arrived at the campsite high atop a mountain, smack in the middle of the Appalachian range. Ralph’s new Dodge pickup easily maneuvered the rugged terrain that led them up to the twenty acre pond and the sparse campsite that Ralph and his friends Lou, Fatty and Phil had previously constructed. As Ralph’s truck pulled in, Lou greeted them with a wave, and then dropped his load of kindling for the camp fire; Phil and Fatty were fly fishing from the bank of the pond. No introductions were needed. Mojo and Rene knew all the guys well.
“Holy smokes…how long has it been?”
Big Lou greeted the newcomers with an outstretched hand.
“Ages Lou…you look good. Married life agrees with you I see.” Rene patted Lou on the belly. He always poked fun but knew where the line was. Lou had a temper and when he unleashed, it was like a grizzly mauling a freshly caught salmon.
“Hey you two…get over here.” Lou motioned to Fatty and Phil who promptly ignored him. Fishing was more important than sappy long time no sees.
Ralph helped Mojo and Rene set up their tents then they strolled around the pond. The sun set over the blackening mountain behind them sending pink and yellow brush strokes throughout the early evening sky. Trout rose on the pond to greet the mayflies that were hatching. An occasional splash could be heard, echoing off the forested hills around them. After a hearty meal of fresh trout and beer, the men settled in for the night.

*****

“You hear that?”
“What”
“Ralph….RALPH!!”
“What?”
“I heard something.”
“Of course you did. We are in the woods dummy…go back to sleep.”
“No…I mean I really heard something.”
“Mojo…”
“There it is again.”
Fatty spoke up. “I heard that too.”
“What is that smell? Smells like…wet dog.”
The six men were all up on an elbow, half in and half out of their sleeping bags. The fire had soothed itself into a crisp glow; the embers shimmered in the darkness flickering a calming sensation over the grassy surroundings. Rene peered at Mojo then over to Ralph.
“Someone poke Lou!”
Big Lou was famous for his sleep marathons and could shake the bark off a tree with his freight train snore.
Mojo whispered only too loud, “wake him up already!”
“WHAT??”
Lou, startled from his slumber, reacted with an unconscious mind.
“Shhhhhh……..Rene pointed into the brush beyond the two trucks only barely visible in the firelight.
Silence enveloped the friends as they strained to hear any noise that did not belong, but no noise came. Only the heavy sound of darkness and the crickets chirp could be heard, but the men did not sleep, except for Lou. He was out again in no time.
Morning came late, taking forever to arrive for the sleepless men. A heavy dew had landed, soaking everything and everyone to the bone. Phil shivered as he stoked the fire and put water on for coffee. Within minutes, all were up, except for Lou. Five of the six men hovered around the fire, rekindled from its near extinction. Steam rose from the long underwear clad men as they sipped there java.
“What do you think that was that we heard?” Ralph said, holding onto his mug tightly.
The others just shook there heads.
“Well I say we look around.”
“Look around for what?” Big Lou said, rising from his catatonic state.
“Phil and Fatty…why don’t you two look over that way…” Ralph pointed towards the towering pines.
“Rene and Mojo can come with me. We will search the area around the trucks and up towards Towpath Bluff.”
“What about me?” Lou said, not wanting to be left out.
Ralph thought for a moment then decided it would be best if someone remained in the camp. Lou was fine with it. It took him awhile to get moving anyway.
Fatty and Phil walked off towards the stand of pines as the other men headed in the opposite direction. Ralph walked carefully, eyeing the ground for any visible clue. As they reached the pickups, Mojo motioned to Ralph and Rene and then pointed towards the hood. A large dent was prominently featured on the edge of Ralph’s hood. Part of the grill was broken as well. An angry path led away, trampled by someone or something. The three men followed as it led towards the bluff. Rene was the first to find her. He stood gazing in horror, unable to mutter a word. Mojo and Ralph called for him yet he said nothing. He couldn’t. He had no spit.
“There you are…we thought…what the ####?”
She hung from one leg which was wedged in the crook of a tree. Her hair covered her face but no clothes covered her disemboweled torso. The remnants of intestines reached for the ground which was soaked in blood. A ravaged backpack lay strewn about the forest floor. She was alone and appeared to have been there for a few days. Whatever had done this was an animal, human or not.
“RALPH!!!!!!!...........ARRRGHH..HELP ME!!!”
The scream shattered the early morning. The voice was Lou’s but sounded nothing like him. By the time the men could get back to camp, Lou was a fury of arms and legs, covered in ten feet of hair and spit.
“GET IT OFF OF ME!!” He screamed in terror.
The animal stopped its molestation and dropped Lou’s big frame to the ground. It stood half upright then fully erect. The men shuddered in place, beholding a creature that defined reason. It quickly moved towards Mojo who backed away then tripped over a log. It stopped again, displaying its arms that stretched on forever. Its eyes penetrated and its teeth froze the men solid. Without warning, it sprinted off into the bush, following the trail that led to the girl.
Lou lay on the ground panting. His chest and stomach were torn as was his face. Blood gushed from a wound the size of a grapefruit.
“We gotta get him outta here” Ralph said. No one argued.

*****

As Ralph sat in the hospital chair, tending vigil over his badly wounded friend, he read the paper. The headline read “Lone hiker missing”.
He read and re-read the story and thought of her family. They never did find her body. It surely was a vacation to remember.


 
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