Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast: Chapter 3

CTB-BRBeast-logoMonsters, paranormal investigators, and pulled pork sandwiches… 

Business as usual in the world of Cletus T. Broshus…

When we last left off, Darren and Chris had made their way to Ellijay, Georgia in order to investigate a mysterious case of a father and son disappearing into the woods when Darren reveals he might have had alternate motives for making the drive. A few plates of barbecue and a curse chat later, Darren finds himself with a date with destiny as he finally had scored himself a meeting with Cletus himself… 

So, please, sit back, relax… maybe spark up some kind green… and enjoy the next installment of Cletus T. Broshus and the Blue Ridge Beast… 


Cletus T. Broshus

And The Blue Ridge Beast

Chapter Three:

A Meeting at Last...

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Darren navigates his car down the narrow mountain road cautiously, his eyes jumping along the roadsides reading signs. It had started raining a few hours earlier, after he and Chris checked into their hotel. He'd left Chris there, by request of Mr. Broshus (not that Chris minded being kept out of the weirdo meet and greet), taking the journey out into the mountainside alone. 

Darren hadn't worried about heading up by himself until he started getting close, the story of that long ago night in central Florida that sparked this whole damned hunt coming to life in his imagination. 

He'd never put any actual thought into his research... Always seeing the "story" and less its "characters". But making the spooky drive up the narrow mountain roads, he could feel his stomach start to twist with nerves as sweat slowly ran off his forehead; the images of someone blasting his way into the demonic bloodbath flooded his mind as he guided his car around the tight cut mountain road, hearing the shrieks of the slaughtered innocent and demonic alike as his tires screamed to hold grip on slick banked roads. It nearly made him sick, watching the mental shooter game in his mind as blurs of rocky green ran by his rain blurred window. 

 

"You sure you wanna do this?" He remembered Chris asking him as he walked out their room

Of course he was, he had protested, once again citing his nearly year long obsession with the story.

"But are you ready..." He could still hear Chris asking. 

"Ready to walk into what you believe is the living room of some stone cold killer who has evaded any sort of detection of a year... He might not be all that friendly once he figures out why you're there." 

He left before Chris could talk sense back into him, deep down knowing his grim warnings were true.


Seeing a roadside marker Dixie had told him to look out for, he glanced down at the hand scrawled directions she had given him when setting this date, claiming GPS would die half way up the mountain (which it did, only adding to the ominous nag twisting away in Darren's guts), making note of the final few directions. He then made his final turn onto Broshus' street, Darren's tiny car splashing into murky water hard as it cut into a muddy road nearly invisible by the encroaching woods. He could feel his throat get tight with dryness, feel his hands grow slick with oily sweat, as the car moved along the choppy dirt and stone road, counting mailboxes until he reached the fifth. He pulled his car to the obscured driveway it marked; the opening grown over with heavy, leafy branches. He strained, staring hard to try and make out the lot number scrawled ages ago deep into a wooden post marking the property edge, thinking this would be the wrong place to go wandering up the wrong driveway. 

"824 Warcloud Path... 824 Warcloud Path..." He muttered quietly to himself, finally satisfied he had arrived. He slowly rolled past the post markers, urging the car along the narrow steep trail as it quickly rose along a hillside. The ground was slick from the rain, tires having difficulty getting grip along the angled, muddy path. His tiny car slide a little here and there as it struggled up the rain slicked clay and stone, eventually making it to the top and onto firmer ground (though not by all that much). Once over he could see their home, as Dixie's directions foretold. The house was hardly eye catching, a decades old double wide sitting half tilted on a wearing foundation in the middle of a weed engulfed clearing. The once white exterior of the trailer had faded to a rusty cream hue; brittle paint chipping off in sheets along the battered shell, whole patches of the walls down to bare oxidizing metal; a few spots, not even that.

He drove his car along the property, pulling into a driveway once coming upon it; parking behind a beat up red pick up. He took a moment to catch his breathe before stepping out of his vehicle, a year of research having led him to this point. He liked to take these little victories for himself; quietly relishing in his successes that he knew no one else ever would. 

He'd done a few of these before... Location interviews, that is... He and Chris had been running a fairly successful paranormal investigation show on the web for nearly a decade now; the pair having covered their share of oddball topics and subjects. 

But this one was special.  

Darren been tugging on that Florida thread for a long time now... Long enough that even he had grown tired of his constant obsessing over it. He understood why Andy and Steve had gotten so frustrated those months back, his obsession maddening to any who he bored telling. But he couldn't help himself... The curse of his life forever having been his inability to let go of things that struck him queer. Up until he and Chris had started the investigations (which had started years before the video taping and production aspects), this tendency of his had brought him nothing but misery and trouble (his father even blamed it for his divorcing Darren's mother, the boy's inquisitive nature leading him to unravel a string of infidelities that his father had been hoping to keep his mother in the dark on). 

And perhaps this thread he currently tugged would do the same, his momentary relishing of victory cut short by the toothy gnaw of lurking fear at his guts; what could be a violent killer just waiting to meet him some fifty yards away. 

He finally stepped out of the car,  grabbing his bag before exiting the vehicle. He was careful as he did so, the ground littered with murky mud puddles made all the more difficult to avoid in the dwindling twilight. It took him a minute before reaching the front door, navigating around the treacherous mud holes harder than he had envisioned. But he arrived unscathed, carefully scaling the iron steps leading to the door. There were three in all, steel grates resting atop decaying steel stands. He could feel them slightly giving way under his weight as he stepped on them (doing little for his self esteem, as he was already feeling a bit chubbier). He knocked on the door once he reached it, its inhabitants taking a few minutes before opening it up to invite him in off the collapsing staircase.

It was Dixie who opened the door, smiling half stoned as she looked at Darren. 

"You're early, mister." She said, smiling a goofy grin as she waved him in. Her work clothes had hardly done her justice, her feminine form even more appealing as she stood there shyly, wearing only a large t-shirt. Her hair was mussed and frizzed and her cheeks flush, Darren getting the impression he might have been interrupting something. He caught himself staring a bit while she was distracted by something across the room, his eyes tracing over her form. 

"Thank you again for setting this up..." Darren opened nervously, extending his hand to the woman in friendship as he moved off the rickety steps. 

"Don't go thanking me too hard just yet, you ain't spoke with 'im..." She replied, still grinning goofily as she accepted his hand. She had rough skin and a firm grip, hurting Darren's hand a little as she shook it. 

"Speaking of, lemme go fetch 'im... Should be done getting dressed by now..." She continued, walking past Darren as she made her way to the other side of the room. 

"Make yourself at home," she called over her shoulder as she disappeared down a hall. 


Darren milled about their entrance for a bit, taking in the scene before venturing in deeper. 

It was cleaner than he would have imagined from the conditions outside; a few things left tossed around during the course of daily living the only things that seemed out of place. The furniture was old and mismatched, picked up peace meal as the pair came across them. The walls were nicotine stained and bare, lest for a single crucifix that hung over the front door. 

Darren moved over to the living room area, taking a seat in the arm chair. It was old and rough feeling and smelled a little like urine, but he sat in it anyway; feeling things might go over better if he left the lovebirds the couch. 

He could hear them making noise off in the back room... Not talking, maybe fucking... 

He tried not to think of it as he kept himself ready for whatever would happen once Cletus came into the room. He could hear them getting louder before finally quieting down, taking a few minutes more before he felt the rattle of heavy footsteps coming towards him from down the hall.

Darren felt a certain level of energy and excitement stir in him when Cletus finally came into the room, his worries of meeting the killer fading with each thundering step down the hall; building with each footstep as his anticipation heightened. He was almost embarrassed to feel his breath tighten as he could feel Cletus about to step in, eyes wide as the man entered into the room like a star struck girl who happen upon her teen idol. 

Just as Lester had described, Cletus was a sight to behold; tall and shaggy and troublesome in appearance. In the time since he had left Lester's he had apparently thinned and toned, his arms like two knotted ropes of tattooed flesh hanging off his thick torso. He smiled as he saw Darren, nicotine yellowed teeth poking out from behind a few weeks growth of whiskers. 

"Sorry about the delay there fella, but you sorta interrupted something..." Cletus started, his voice low and chewed up by cigarettes. He paused as Dixie walked behind him into the kitchen, her shapely body now covered by a loose wearing sundress. 

"I'm sure you understand," Cletus continued, smiling slyly as he gave her a flirty look before moving towards the couch. He was not as handsome as Darren had imagined him to be (especially once he had seen Dixie, who was rather fetching), but could see he had a certain quality to him... An air of masculine energy that would have had no issue drawing women to his call. 

"Name's Cletus, friend. And you might be...." Broshus said as he extended his hand.

"Darren... Darren Jolniki..." Darren said, his voice tight and creaky as he pushed it from his throat. He felt Cletus' hand engulf his as he shook it; hard, callous leather gripping his hand like a vice.

"Pleasure..." Cletus said, taking a seat on the couch. Dixie, carrying three beers with her, sat next to him. She handed Darren one of the beer and Cletus the other. 

The trio sat for a moment, quietly drinking beer as they stared at the other (with Cletus and Dixie occasionally sharing a quiet chuckle among themselves, most likely are Darren's expense). Cletus lit himself a cigarette, leaning back a little in his chair; days old clothes hanging off him as he sat there. 

"Now," he starts, his mouth billowing smoke like a threatening volcano as his gravely voice croaked.

"Dixie here says you popped into her work asking about me... Naturally, I am wondering why, being that I don't know you..." He said this doing his best to sound serious and threatening, narrowed eyes focused on Darren. 

"Well, Mr. Broshus," Darren started, trying his best to not sound frightened. He'd grown up around a lot of these country alpha male types, his formative years spent in a small town a few hours out of New Orleans. They were a friendly enough bunch overall, but they respected perceived power. Shaking voices and timidness wouldn't be interpreted as soothing or passive... It would be seen as weakness and rejected in disgust. 

"My name is Darren Jolniki-" 

"So you've said," Dixie said, looking up from her work of rolling a joint as she did so. She smiled as she said it, slightly crooked teeth grinning half baked. 

"And I am a paranormal investigator..."

"A parawho?" Cletus asked, pretty sure he knew what he meant but wanting to be certain. 

"A paranormal investigator. I look for ghosts and monsters and the sort... Do a show on the Internet... Unexplained with Darren and Chris... It's popular..." He said, trailing off as he saw Cletus gloss over, seeming uninterested in his explanation. 

"Ok, and what does that have to do with me?" Cletus asked, his voice again doing its best to intimidate. (For the record, it was working... The tone and glare emotionally transporting Darren back to Freshman year of high school, quivering as the bigger, older boy had his fill of making his tremble). 

Darren paused, nervous and shaken; the conversation not at all going along as he had play acted it every time in his head. Broshus was focused and hard as he glared at Darren, the man obviously disturbed by the stranger who had not only decided to bother him at home but had harassed his girlfriend at work in order to do so... In retrospect, Darren thought he should have probably sent a letter. 

"I-uh..." He stammered, caught off guard and intimidated; the larger Broshus' mean glare leaving him speechless. 

"Here, Cletus," Dixie interrupted, handing him the joint once she grew bored of watching this scene play out. 


"He gets a little irritable when he hasn't had his medicine, Darren..." She said, watching Cletus light the joint. Darren nodded silent, pulling himself together as he watched the menacing man puff away at his hand rolled cigarette. 

"I'm not irritable, I'm being bothered..." Cletus protested, his scowl cracking a little as he was finding it difficult to hold his face. It soon gave way, a goofy smile breaking out of his stern glare.

"I'm just being a dick, man..." He said to Darren, shaking his head a little as he passed the joint over to him. Darren laughed it off as he accepted the smoke, taking a light hit off it before handing it to Dixie. 

"But I really am curious as to why you're bugging my chick while she's at work about me..." Cletus continued. 

"Well, like I said, I am a paranormal investigator and it seems that your name has come across in an investigation I'm doing..."

"In Blue Ridge?" Cletus asked, hoping to mask the flash of nervousness that crossed his reddening eyes. 

"Well, I am here investigating something else actually, just worked out you happened to be in the area. No, your name came up in a case I was working in South Carolina about six months ago..." He said, taking a hit off the joint as his turn arrived again before passing it along. He was keeping himself vague, so as to not startle Broshus. 

"You must be talking about Lester and his damned Lizard men..." Cletus said with a toothy smile, chuckling slightly at the sound of Lester's name left his lips. 

"Yes sir, the very same..."

"And how is ol' Lester?"

"He's good. Sends his regards, or at least asked me to should I ever bump into you..." 

"Excellent, excellent. And send him mine, should you ever see him again," Cletus went on, taking a draw off his beer as he spoke. 

"Who's Lester?" Dixie asked, confused. 

"Lester," Darren started," is a man who claims his property is being terrorized by Lizard Men."

"No shit." Dixie said, her face deadpan. 

"Yea," Cletus chimed in, stoned smile painted wide across his bearded face. 

"Had me out there a few times with him to try and hunt one of those fucking things... Good guy, that Lester... Crazy as all fuck, but a good guy..." 

"So you didn't believe his story? He had painted you as a true believer..." Darren asked, fumbling around in his bag for his notebook and recorder. 

"I'm going to take notes, if you don't mind..." He continued, setting down his equipment as he went, hoping to explain his sudden actions. 

"And here I thought we was chatting all friendly like..." Cletus teased as he tossed a half glance towards Dixie (smiling pretty, unsure of what to make of all this herself).

"Oh, we are... Just you're telling me things I hadn't gotten about Lester..." Darren vamped, setting the recorder between the three of them on a wobbly coffee table, hoping to settle his subject... Get him comfortable talking about some thing else before springing his true reason upon him. 

"So, you were saying... About crazy ol' Lester," 

"Well, uh... Is this thing on..." Cletus teased, tapping his finger against the recorder.

"Naw, he had a good story, sure... And I guess it must have touched him more than I had figured, my not laughing at him as he told it, but I never saw nothing to lead me to believe that there were no Lizard Men." 

"No scratches, no dens?" Darren said, the story Cletus telling vastly different than that told to him by Lester. But Darren had vetted Lester's story... Hear it countless times, the details the same each and every telling. He had seen the dens and the scratches too.

"Nothing to make me say there be lizard men in the low lands... Bears, maybe... But no lizard men. Now is that all?" Cletus asked, his tone a bit irked. He wasn't being rude, but Darren could tell he was hitting a wall; something in the topic drawing an ill ease out of Cletus. This was something Darren was hoping not to do. 

"No, actually it wasn't at all what I was here for..." He started, looking over at the pair. They fed off each other, Cletus and Dixie; his growing ill at ease causing her to grow spiny as she glared at Darren. 

"Just finished my doc on Lester, sorry... Hard habit to break... Actually, I am in Blue Ridge investigating a sighting a few miles away from here..." Darren quickly covered, losing his nerve as he felt Broshus' eyes focused on him. 

"A sighting of what?" Cletus asked, a tone of concern in his voice that Darren could hear. 

"A lizard man!" Dixie teased, stoned, playful fingers flying towards Cletus' side. 

"No, but a beast of some sort... Said to be part of an Indian legend..." 

"Yea, the monster at Lover's Leap..." Dixie chimed in, drawing a look from both the men. 

"I grew up around here... We used to tell ghost stories in Girl Scouts about it..." she explained, her tone slightly shocked they too hadn't heard of it.

"You don't happen to remember this ghost story, do you?" Darren asked, reaching over for the recording device in the table and angling it more towards Dixie. 

"Yea, damn it how'd it go..." She said, frustratingly pausing as he tried to jog her memory by lightly slapping the side of her head.

"Um, um,um..." She stalled, the pair of men watching her ape this odd dance, her womanly bits jiggling loosely under her ill fitting garment as she seemed to literally try and shake the memory free from whatever resin soaked corner it had been stashed into. 

"Got it... The story went something like there was this witch and she was in love with this guy, and the guy's wife was the daughter of the dude who ran things..." 

"Yes! The legend of the Sauntee Witch!" Darren exclaimed, half excited that she had heard the legend of the Magistrate's hunt (which, according to legend, had less to to with treason against the Confederacy and witchcraft and more to do with a cheating husband and wrath of his powerful father in law.)

"You and your friend were talking about it earlier..." Dixie continued, fingers busy rolling another joint. 


"Excuse me, but I'm a little lost..." Cletus interrupted. 

"Sorry," Darren apologized, turning to Cletus as he did so. 

"According to legend, and one document historically, there is a beast that roams the woods at the base of Lover's Leap," Darren started.

"Yea! I remember my scout master told us that story too... How the Indian princess and the warrior threw themselves off Lover's Leap and in their blood was born a beast that lurked the woods." Dixie interrupted, excited she had remembered as much as she had.

"Precisely. There are all sorts of other stories and legends concerning it.. The one of the Sauntee Witch, like Dixie just said... There are also Cherokee and Creek warriors that would speak of it trailing their hunting and war parties, striking at any who would dare venture too close to the Sacred Lands it protected... And even in the famous "Battle in the Clouds", which happened at the peak of Lookout Mountain- not far from here- the rebel soldiers spoke of a beast that slaughtered Braggs' remaining men during their retreat through these lands... Said to be what lost them the Deep South..." Darren paused, seeing the pair engaged in what he was saying; stoned eyes focused like lasers as they passed the joint quietly between themselves. 

"Anyways, about a few months back a father and son went missing out in the area... Gone up there to prep some land they had for hunting and never came down... Few days go by... A week... Then suddenly the kid shows up, out of nowhere... He's all sorts of chewed up and bloodied, like some animal had been keeping him as a chew toy for all that time. Crawled right out of the brush and into the RV of these two hikers. They come home, find the kid bleeding out on their floor and call the cops. The kid died before the cops came, but not before he told these people what had happened..." 

Darren paused as he took a sip from his warming beer and lit a cigarette. 

"So what happened," Dixie asked excited, slightly bouncing up and down as she did so; the pair hanging off Darren's words as though he was telling them around a camp fire. 

"The kid told these two that he and his dad had set off to track a hog or something that was ruining their feeding stations. That's where they saw it... Where the chase began... He said they gave it a good run before it finally caught up to his father; killing the man in a single blow. It seemed to toy with the boy though, giving chase and being playful by comparison; swipes that merely bled him out as opposed to gutting him in one swoop." 

 

"That a pretty goddamn awful story," Cletus finally said after the trio sat in awkward silence following the end of Darren's tale. 

"Yea, I'm pretty bummed out now..." Dixie added, thin pale arms wrapped tightly around Cletus'. 

"And I'm not seeing where I fit into all this..." Cletus continued.

"Being as my chick seems to know more about this than I do, and I am neither a dead man or his son..."

Darren had to think quickly, not sure exactly himself where he had taken things, the combination of nerves and marijuana shaking him from bringing up his true reason for being there. He could feel his throat tighten again, his hands grow slick and his armpits drippy. He looked around the room, hoping to hide his snitching eyes from his audience, the two stoned hicks giving him the same look dogs give when human behavior strikes them odd. 

Then it came to him, the solution to his problem seemingly brought about by divine intervention, the idea manifesting itself out of sheer panic. 

"Well, after hearing from Lester what a great help you were to him in helping him hunt his fantastic beasts, my associate and I would be wondering if you would do us the same favor..." 

He could see the request crash against a sea wall of glazed eyes and confusion, two blind melons grinning back unsure of what exactly their guest was getting at.

"I mean, obviously we would be willing to compensate your time..."

"How much compensation were we talking?" Dixie chimed in, finally a topic they understood coming across. 

"It.. It wouldn't be much, unfortunately... It's sort of a side business project between my associate and I... But say two hundred for a few days time? Take us into the woods, find what we need, help us get out alive, as I'm sure you have had clocked more woodland time than either my friend or I," Darren continued, laying it on a bit thick (while he and Chris were hardly woodman, between having grown up in the south and spending their twenties chasing ghouls and ghosts, they both had had their share of time spent in the wilds and wilderness). He could see the wheels turning, more in Dixie than Cletus (he seemed to sit there glaring at Darren, who wasn't sure if it was done in a poor attempt to be menacing or just the blank stare of a mindless junkie looking back). 

She whispered something into Cletus' ear, him whispering something back agitated. She then shot Broshus a look, cold and stern as her eyes and his met. She mouthed something quiet; those once kissable lips pulled thin over clenched teeth as she did her best to mask the dispute. Darren watched this duel play out over a few seconds, the two going back and forth like this as they debated taking up his offer. He could see Dixie was urging for it, while something seemed to stay Broshus from taking it (if for nothing more than to have put an end to the big eyed glares and exasperated looks coming off Dixie). Cletus finally relented, though; Dixie reducing her debate style to simply driving her pointed finger into the soft meat between his ribs as she whispered something about needing the money. He gave a heavy sigh, to be sure everyone understood the level of duress he had made this choice under. 

"I'll go with your friend and you, though truthfully I'm not sure just how useful I'll be. I'm big 'n strong, sho'nuff. But around these woods, I'm as fresh as you two cats are... But if we bring Dixie with us..." He said, the scowl of duress slowly morphing into a cheshire grin as he looked over to his chick, her eyes growing large as he dragged her into his business.

"I'd love to Cletus, but I-" 

"- I would love to go with you guys, is what she was gonna say... When we getting started?" Broshus bulldozed, ignoring her effort to back out as he shot her a glance. 

"Well, figure earlier the better... Say nine o'clock, over by the north entrance to the trail leading in?" Darren offered, loosening a bit as he bought himself more time with Cletus. 

"Nine works... Ain't been up that early in a few, but I think I can muster..." Cletus said with a grin, running thick fingers through his shaggy head of hair. 

"Now, about that fifty you said I had coming if I sat and listened to your bullshit..." 



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