“Look, I’ve been visiting Salt Fork for my entire life. I’ve never seen one of these things, and I’m never going to see one of these things, because they’re imaginary.”

“Well, sir, if they’re imaginary, then somehow a whole hell of a lot of people have the same imagination. For thousands of years, people all over the world have reported sightins, have had encounters, have heard them outside their campsites. I was talkin to one guy a couple of years ago and he says, ‘Jim, I was always a skeptic about this stuff. I didn’t see nothin, but I know what I heard down there in the valley. There was somethin down there, and it’s somethin that I don’t wanna run into.’ And I meet these people all the time, I’ve heard so many stories from them that I needed to start writin them all down. And by the way, I am gonna be stayin after the meetin for a while to sign books if you want your book signed.”

“Okay, but in the millions of years, nobody has ever found the bones of one of these. Nobody has ever hunted one successfully. It just doesn’t make sense!”

“Lemme take this one Jim. Sir, I’m an investigator with the Cryptozoology Society of Ohio. I dunno if you know what Cryptozoology is, but it’s where we study the animals that have kept themselves hidden from us for whatever reason. Now, first I wanna correct you on somethin. You said millions of years, but we can prove now that the world has only been around for ten thousand years at the most. An that’s science. There’s a museum about it over in Kentucky. But what you asked was about bones, and we believe that scavengers have a special attraction to these creatures. An we know that the Good Lord has made everythin work together, so we can figger out that mice and hawks and ants and maggots must all just be in sync with these creatures, so that when one dies they take care of the body real quick.”

“That makes absolutely no sense.”

“An to your point about the huntin. Look, these things are smarter than other animals, and they’re crafty. That’s how they get away all the time. An you’ll find if you read Jim’s books that most of the people who have encounters are the women and the children. We think that’s because when they see a man they sense the danger, especially if that man is carryin a gun.”

The cookies on the back table were stale. The coffee was weak.


[word count: 433]


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