Halloween night, and I found myself driving on a dark country highway 65 miles northwest of Austin. State Capital of Texas and home of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. And of course SXSW film and music festival. I was trying to think distracting thoughts so I would not soak up the forebording vibe out on this night of spooks and goblins. I'm a driving fool and a fearless man... that's what I'm supposed to be, anyhow.
That's about the time my front tire blew out, and my heart jumped right thru my throat and up to my brain. I swerved hard on this narrow two lane highway, but was able to control the car and get pulled over on the side of the road. I got out and could see a problem right away: it was so pitch dark out that I was going to have a heck of a time changing tires. I got out my trusty flashlight and fumbled to keep it aimed on the tire as I did my task.
I kept on hearing noises from the woods on both sides of the road. It was more than a little unnerving. Some of them were louder and more odd than others. I felt a chill go threw me. I heard something pop to the left of me, and jerked my head to the side to see. Then I heard a distinctive crack to the right of me and whipped my head in that direction.
Then just as I was finishing tightening bolts on the spare tire, the jack and crowbar slipped and I jammed my right hand hard. I dropped onto my butt and grasped my hand in pain, and then I heard it...
Crashing and thrashing sounds coming from the woods. Unlike any of the other sounds I had heard, this was big and it was moving steadily in my direction. A deer darted out of the woods and across the road. I jumped up and climbed into the car, locking the doors. Even in the dark, I could make out the movement of the trees and this huge object moved towards me. When I caught sight of it stepping from the woods, I thought it was a bear. Or could it be a really large gorilla?
Or maybe... I grew up being fascinated by the legend of Bigfoot. Sasquatch. I always just figured it was a really good story, but I think that this was him. Or it. And he is what ran for my car as I started up and screamed away faster than I've ever driven in my life. With the car trunk wide open and the tools left on the highway. It sounded like I hit something as I drove away. It was 30 miles to the next gas station, and I stopped there to check on the tire and see what I hit.
Turns out I didn't hit anything. But it looked like something had hit me. On the right rear fender there was a large indention where it looked like a small tree had fallen. And in the mouldings I saw lots of hairs. I felt every hair on my neck stand up and salute. A childhood boogeyman had just become very real to me. And crossing paths with this terrifying creature would no doubt haunt me for some time to come.
Interestingly, I had just read yesterday that a company called Court Five is coming out with a movie called EXISTS which is about Bigfoot. Since it is directed by Eduardo Sanchez, who did THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, I am certain that it will be very scary. I am also certain that I will be squirming in my seat when I watch it, remembering the night that a driving fool had a close encounter with a legend.