"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-"
"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..."