Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast: Chapter One

CTB-BRBeast-logoSettle yourself in, kids… The Weekly Constitutional is pleased to bring you the continuing adventures of Cletus T. Broshus, redneck, pot head, monster hunter… Only he doesn't quite know it… not yet… 

Our story began, though, following the tragic ends of the Birchum men while on a hunting trip, when they came across a mysterious ferocious beast while walking through the woods one fateful day. But more about that later… for now, let’s sit back… relax… maybe spark yourself a little green and enjoy Chapter one of Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast… 

Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast

Chapter One:

No Better Friend

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"Thanks for meeting with me again, Lester," Darren Jolniki starts, smiling warmly at the disheveled man sitting across from him. Behind him, a few men seat themselves along the second bed of the hotel room. 

"Ain't a thing, Darren... Thought we were done with the interviews the last time..." The man he called "Lester" replies as he sits at a small table by the window, fingers quickly working a small pile of loose tobacco into a cigarette. He was tall and thin, leathery skin hanging loose of knotted muscle and bone. His hair was long and grey, fashioned into a braid running down his back. Finished with their task, his thick, calloused fingers raised his creation to his lips, a click off his lighter enveloping his head in a foul grey cloud. 

"We were... But my friends and I were in town getting some establishing shots for the doc when I remembered something from your story I wanted you to tell them..." Darren continues, adjusting himself on the bed across from Lester. 

"Glad to help, if I can..." Lester replied, confused but agreeably. He'd gotten used to people asking him to tell his stories. Came with the territory, he reckoned. 

"Awesome, just a second..." Darren says, reaching into his bag for a thin silver recorder. He fiddles with it for a second, starting a new track file before lifting the device to his mouth.

"Florida Massacre Investigation, interview subject Lester Colton..." He said into the slim silver device before leaning his hand out, holding the recorder near Lester.


"Now Lester, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about Cletus T. Broshus..." Darren started, making sure he spoke clear enough for the recorder to pick him up. 

"Cletus is a friend of mine." 

"And how did you guys meet?" Darren poked, having heard this all once before.

"I was at the bar, killing my sorrows while telling the fellers what done all happened. They took it like how they always do... The laughing, the snickering... Ain't just when I tell them either... It's at church, at the store... My wife hears it too. Kids as well. Why it took me so off when someone actually asked me to tell them more..." 

"Broshus...." 

"Yes sir... The very same. He said his name was Cletus as he bought me a drink and pulled me off to the side. He was a big feller, tall, not so much fat as uncared for... Looked like he could be trouble, if'n you get the gist... We get to talkin', the two of us... Seemed alright... Little edgy, but who isn't these days..." He takes a drag off his hand rolled cigarette, a few loose strands of the brown curling leaf bits hanging off his cracking lips as he pulls the resin soaking paper away. His white frosted tongue dabs at the strands, taking them in before quickly spitting them out haphazard. 

"He pulls you aside and then what, Lester," Darren prodded further, leaning in a little to help his microphone catch every breath. He'd spoken to Lester enough to know he needed to be moved along lest he get sidetracked.

"We talked for a good while. Told him about my Lizard Men, which, again, shockingly he didn't laugh a lick at. Seemed legitimately concerned actually, like I'd said a rabid bear was lurking the lot. We parted the night as friends, Mr. Broshus telling me he'd like to come by my place some time and maybe hunt for one of these damned things..." 

"And you took him up, I assume..." Andy, one of the men behind Darren, offered, rolling his eyes a little as he looked to his colleagues. 

"Yessir, damn right I did..." 

"Of course he did... Two strangers who meet getting sauced at a bar decide their second date should include walking armed in a dark forrest looking for Lizard People..." Steve, the other member of the peanut gallery tossed in sarcastically, getting laughs from Andy and a cutting dirty look from Lester.

"I'd suffered for years with these damn things plaguing my family... Killing my cattle, ripping up my crops... I tell this man I hardly knew and he was ready to join me in my hunt. That man was as true a friend as I ever had." Lester said, a tone in his voice implying that the next cute comment would be met with force. He eyeballed the two men, thin pale legs poking out from under shorts he felt were too short for a man. And too bright as well, each man sporting an oddly bright pastel of his own.

"I'm sure he was, Lester... Ignore those snarky assholes," Darren echoed, signaling for the two opinionated observers to leave the room (which they did). 

"I'm sorry..." He lied, hoping the offense wouldn't cut this interview short.

"They ain't the first to laugh at me, mister. Ain't gonna be the last either, if'n we're being honest." Lester replied, taking a long drag off his butt. 

"Now. As for Cletus.. Next night, round six, he comes pulling up. Climbs out of this beat up old truck that looked like he lived in it, wearing the same duds he had on the night before. But he was sober and serious, grabbing a bag of gear and a shotgun from his cab as he jumped out. My wife cringed a little as she saw him come up..." 

"Did she happen to say anything to him?" 

"Civilities... Hello, I'm Lester wife... Nothing more. She was scared of him a little, I think. Scared enough to urge me to bring my side arm... Cletus noticed it, she made sure; bringing it to me as we were half way up the drive way headed out. But it didn't seem to phase him none, and as I can now attest there wasn't a malicious intention his being there that night or since. We stayed out all night, just the two of us... Walking the wood, checking shadows and shagging noises... I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a little fun..." He recounted, his mind thinking fondly over the time. 


"And was it on that first night that he told you what you told me the other night?" Darren pushed, knowing where he wanted things to go. 

"Naw. Not that first night. We talked a bunch, sure. Mostly about my Lizard Men... Where I see them, what they're like... Mainly toward the end of the evening though... Early on we were quiet, like feeling each other out... By sunrise the next morning, we're walking back to my place and my wife's waving us in for a quick coffee and biscuit before he rides off. He takes it and leaves right away, eating that biscuit like its the first thing he'd eaten all week. Just walks off and says, if'n I'd like, he'd come back again that night to keep looking."

"Jesus, two all nighters in a row... You guys are hard core..." Darren said, smiling friendly at Lester as he subtly looked over his shoulder to his remaining observer. 

"Yes sir, we did it four days total... Them two and camped out for two days a few days later." 

"And you're wife didn't mind..." 

"No," Lester said, chuckling as he shook his scruffy head. 

"She was just happy to see someone not laughing at me. See me being me again... Made sure to send me out the next night with sandwiches cause Cletus looked hungry. Again, same as before, six pm he's pulling up my drive. New clothes but they still looked slept in and wrinkled as he climbed out. He was friendlier this time, but quiet still while around my family. But in the woods we were all laughs and stories."

"And that's when he told you..."

"Yes. We had stopped to eat the sandwiches my wife had packed. He then pulled out a joint thick as his finger. He offered me a pull and I took it... Not usually the marijuana type but figured  it'd be rude to object. And we get to talkin', like that marijuana will do... I asked him why he seemed so casual about the lizard men... It sort of bugged me since meeting him, as much as I delighted in it. I mean, he had been the first to not laugh or poke fun or think I'm crazy or full of shit. Not in a long time either, mind you, but the first ever. He said I wouldn't believe the reason if he told me. I poked more, try me, I say. But he just sits there smoking a bit, eyes getting small and red as he just stared at the ground. 

"'About a month ago,' he starts, all slow and deliberate. 'I went walking in woods like this to go find this friend of mine's kid. And I found him, dead, and the thing that killed him.' Bear, I ask. But he shakes his head slowly as he continues,'a goddamned Bigfoot. And I shot the damn thing too. Shot it and left it for dead.' And I'll be honest, sitting there on the receiving end I wasn't sure how to take his story. But he kept going... Goblins destroying his trailer, something called a windamngo-"

"Wendingo,"

"Yea, one of them, and a goddess of some sort. Said they killed everyone he knew, ruined everything he had, and left him running scared...I'll grant you it could have been the weed, but he seemed scared..." 

"And now tell us about the camping trip..." Darren led, glancing back excited at his remaining associate.

"Yea... About a week later we decide to stay out longer... I told him this theory I had over at the bar a day or so before concerning where these things might come from. This place called Rattler's Den, a swamp with green brackish water and thick high grass, no one ever goes out there on account of all that... Thinkers that we are, Cletus and I reckoned that makes it all the more perfect a place to hide something in plain sight."

"And did you guys make it?" 

"No. We got close, but turned back..."

"What happened out there, Lester, to make two gentlemen like yourselves turn back..." 

"We're walking... And it's a hard fucking walk... Ground is all water logged and spongy. We kept getting stuck as we waded in deeper. And we would have turned back sooner on account of that alone, but we kept seeing these signs... Scarring from deep talon swipes cut through the branches and trunks of the trees surrounding us, like a razor would paper... There were prints, too. And sounds... Loud, purposeful hissing... We could hear it as we drew steadily closer. The wood got thicker as we walked, the trees seeming to bunch up on purpose in our path, constantly forcing us to wade off the safer path. Then we hear these snarls, and had this burning feeling tickling our insides that someone was watching us move about...outta nowhere, we hear a voice. 'You were a fool to come so close to me, Broshus...' We both hear this voice say.." 

"You heard it say his name. You heard it say 'Broshus'?" 

"Yes sir, know how crazy it sounds and yet still I say it. The damned wind itself said his name as it blew past. Made the damned hairs on my neck and arms stand on end... Got to where every damned living thing in them woods was chanting his name, it sounded like... This evil, evil chant... Broshus, Broshus... We want Broshus... I was getting scared, looked over to Cletus and he was too. We turned back after that, two of us knowing we probably got whatever answer we were looking for..."

"And did you see or hear from Mr. Broshus after that?" 

"No sir. We got back to my house and he left, same as always... Bye Lester, I'll see you... Climbed into his truck and drove off never to be seen again." 

"Not at the bar?"

"Not nowhere, son. Dude done split without a trace. Not that I'd blame him... Hearing the wind and trees call me out would have freaked me out too..."


 

*****

 

Darren watched as Lester drove off from their meeting, turning back to his three associates, leaning against the front of his hotel room. 

"So, what did I tell you, Chris?" Darren said excitedly to the guy he didn't have to kick out of the room.  

"He met a weird guys named Cletus from Florida... That's like being shocked you met a Mexican girl named Maria." Chris replied, seeming unimpressed by the story.

"Edgy guy from Florida claiming he is running from a ruined life... Seems to be a missing piece to that weird strip club massacre about a year ago." Darren replied, digging into his pockets for his room key. 

"This is what? The third time you've found some weirdo drifter from Florida that you immediately think is linked to that fucking nightmare story. A strip club burned down, a bunch of creepy weirdos died. It happens, man. Not everything is a mystery wrapped in riddles." Andy chimed in, garnering him a second dirty look from Darren. 

"But that's not what happened. Everybody but two people died in that wreckage. Whoever it was that vanished and one of the girls..." Darren replied, giving him a stern look.

"Excuse me, no one but some tweaked out Florida backroad stripper survived, telling her insane tale..." Andy replied sarcastically, shaking his head mockingly at Darren as he did. 

"She claimed a wendingo ripped her legs off, the only thing sparing her from death was the shotgun blast of whoever it was that walked away from the mess. Said there were goblins and this bizarre nude woman glowing red with fire cackling as the monsters tore through the room. Fourteen people died there that night; she claims ripped apart by the very creature that would have killed her before being burned to cinders in a blaze." 

"And you buy that shit, seriously?" Andy continued, seeming annoyed that Darren clung to his beliefs. 

"Andy, I have spoken to the tweaked out stripper, as you call her. Her name is Mandi and she's been clean for months now. And she swears still what she has always said. Her wounds, the ripped off legs, are those consistent with other victims of animal attacks, giving her claims of having them ripped off by a fanged demon more than just passing credibility." Darren said, winded when he finished. 

"It's your life man, spend it talking to who you want," Andy replied, walking away from the group. 

"Send me the shots we got today so I can start working them into the film. But, seriously, stop dragging me into this Florida shit. It's stupid, and I don't care." He said, walking towards his car. 

Darren could feel his face burn red as he stood there watching Andy drive off, his undercarriage rattling as he pulled out of the chewed up lot onto the road. 

"He's an asshole, Darren..." Chris said to his friend, patting his shoulder as he stood there. 

"He's right, though," Steve, the remaining associate, spoke up. 

"Did we even need to get these shots, Darren? Or did you just want us all to hear Lester tell this bullshit story about the Lizard hunting idiots..." 

He stomped off annoyed, flipping off Darren and Chris as he walked to his car. 

"I take it Steve's an asshole too?" Darren asked Chris, a tinge of dejection in his voice. 

"No. Pissing off Andy is a guarantee. But pissing off Steve... The man's a saint." Chris replied with a sarcastic grin.

"So you gonna stomp off after telling me to never bother you with this shit again too?" 

"No, Darren. I'm not. It wouldn't do me any good. You'd just get your sister to make me go just to keep you alive. Figure it's more fun to play along."

"But what about this Cletus story... It's a good thread, right?" 

"Honestly, it's thin as rolling paper. But, seeing as you really don't care how thin it is, it's worth tugging on... If Lester's memory holds and this drifter wasn't lying, sure... He could be your guy. Too bad finding him is going to be next to impossible." 

"It'll be rough, that's for sure. But nerds invented Google for just such a thing." 


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