A Missing Link

I searched the Himalayas for near 5 years before I captured Janice. When we caught Sasquatch, he thrashed and cried. He damn near broke his cage. But not Janice, she just stared at me with them razor-blue yeti eyes of hers, hate singin’ through ’em. She new she’d been duped.

Regardless, we come down from them mountains with that big white snow-bear of a half-woman and took her to the ranch. Now we hadn’t had time to set up the proper private caged accommodations, so we just tossed her in the pen with Sasquatch and called it a temporary solution.

That old gal was a good foot taller than Sasquatch and scarier in every other way too. To say the least, they didn’t get on too well; that first night she damn near mashed his head into the ground. She took his cave and left him with scraps to eat. He’d become a beat dog, cowerin’ and sulkin’ anytime she even looked at him. That is until she went into heat. The lust for sex overcame his fear and that horny bastard snuck into that cave and some how managed his business. Janice probably would have killed him if we hadn’t tranquilized them both and gotten him out of there.

Nine months later she gave birth to the first of ’em. We had it tested and everything, but even still no one believed us, why would they? It weren’t possible. People come and took both Janice and Sasquatch, and threw me in jail. Somehow my lawyer convinced the judge that if I was innocent, Janice would be able to have another.

They had to bring in one of them specialists horse crankers who milk the Kentucky Derby Studs to get Sasquatch to perform again. This time they watched Janice like she was a celebrity princess, and just as before the baby was human.

The world had a goddamn conniption ponderin’ where people’d come from. Religions had no answers. Shit, no one had answers.

So they did more experiments. The next thing they tried was to mate her with a Gorilla, and well ‘course it worked. She gave birth to somethin’ that looked like that Spock fella on TV. It was a cute little pointy-eared bastard, whatever it was. They kept tryin’ every chance they could and kept getting somethin’ outa fairy tales. I became the warden of mythical creatures.

I didn’t really know what to do with ’em but they was smart, some smarter than people. So I started out just by teachin’ ’em what I knew. Elvis, what with havin’ a cow’s head and all couldn’t get speakin’ down, but did ok at writin‘. Waylon was just as dumb as hell, but obeyed like a faithful old dog. Hank and Loretta acted just like kids are supposed to. Spock I hardly had to do nothin’ with, everything was easy for that boy. Jesse however was the hardest to interact with, but I taught ‘most everyone to swim so we could spend more time with her.

When they got big enough we’d go hunting together. Elvis and Spock took to it quicker than I’ve seen. Between the two of them we could track pertnear anything alive. Life continued on like that and all of us adjusted and we called our lives normal.

The government truck come by one day. So those that could, jumped in my truck and we went out to see what them boys was droppin’ off.

“What have we got this time?”

“Read the file Jack,” one of them boys said handin’ the bundle over to Loretta. I looked at the cover page of documents.

“What?”

“You should see him, looks like he aught to by shootin’ arrows, and handin’ out heart-shaped boxes of candy.”

“They bred Janice with a human? Someone actually approved that?”

“Rumor is they didn’t ask for approval, one of the scientist just went for it, if you know what I mean.”

“For christ-sake.”

“Jack, what does it say?” Hank asked.

“Take a look buster,” I said and handed Hank the file.

“You know Jack you’re not supposed to let anyone see…”

“Wings? Son of a bitch, that’s not fair, I want wings!” said Hank.

“Well you sure as shit ain’t no angel, so keep wishin’… and watch your language.”

“The offspring are all lookin’ good Jack. Any problems?”

“Besides Jesse eatin’ all the fish in the lake? Waylon growin’ bigger than the house? Elvis’ horns coming in? Merle diggin’ holes all over the god damn place? Good lord worst of all I gotta teenage girl here, and you wanna ask me about problems?”

“You sound like a Dad.”

“Any Dad you know got a mermaid in his lake? Tell me, what else they workin’ on?”

“I wouldn’t know Jack. No ones talkin’.”

“Ah hell. You know what they say ’bout the preacher’s daughter.”

“The preacher’s daughter?”

“Never mind.”

I named the angel Willie, and I passed him off to the nanny for nurturin’ while he was young and needy. His presence didn’t change nothin’ much on the ranch. The four oldest, Loretta, Hank, Spock, and Elvis were growing up so fast that the ranch seemed to just shrink in around them. They begun wonderin’ what else was out there. Spock was particularly curious readin’ and masterin’ every bit of information he could get, and then he’d tell the other’s all about what he’d read.

I caught him in my office one afternoon, he had put together a dominoing series of events, he assumed would keep me occupied long enough for him to find somethin’ new. When I found him he was looking through my old research material.

“So, this abominable snowman…”

“Yeti”

“Sorry, Yeti. I noticed the last entry in your journal was about this Yeti giving birth to a baby girl. Now that would be Loretta i’m assuming. So then this Yeti creature is our mother, correct?”

“You aint supposed to be in here Spock.”

“Why did you not finish this project? You still have one more creature on your list.”

“That’s what you’re worried about?”

“Well, yes. I’d understand if it didn’t exist, but you didn’t even look for it.”

“Shit Spock, insteada pokin’ around here readin’ about safaris and snipe-hunts, why don’t you figure out a way to build that underwater room so we can visit your sister during the winter.”

“Alright Jack.” Spock put down the journal and tidied up the maps and started sulkin’ towards the door.

“And don’t you go rebel ‘rousin’ to your brothers and sisters about any’a this.”

“Ok Jack.”

Next morning a’course Spock had rallied the kids to his cause.

“Jack, what does Mono Grande mean?”

“Loretta, what kinda question is that to ask at this time’a day?”

“Spock says it means big monkey in Spanish”

“Well then why you askin’ questions you already know the answers to?”

“Were you going to capture King Kong, like in that old movie?”

“This monkey ain’t quite that big sweet-pea.”

“Jack we want to catch Mono Grande.” said Hank

“Well Hank that ain’t gonna happen.”

“But…”

“But nothin’, we aint goin’ on a hunt. There’re too many’a you critters here to be gone that long.”

“I bet Spock and Elvis could track and catch it in a week,” said Loretta.

“Huntin’ deer and catchin’ a myth ain’t the same thing kiddo.”

“Even if I was willing to consider this little proposition of y’all’s, We can’t leave the country. None of y’all have passports or even birth certificates.”

“We’ll get birth certificates, and passports,” said Loretta.

“Oh, really? Where you think you gonna find ’em?”

“Same place the Mexicans find them,” said Hank.

“Don’t be a smart-ass Hank. Look I know you rascals get bored, but I gotta thousand acres of hills and trees and creeks for y’all ta go hog-wild on. So y’all’re just gonna have to find somethin’ around here to keep yourselves busy. ‘Cuz ain’t no amount of doe eyes is gettin’ y’all to South America.”

I tell ya, them kids should be lawyers. Just when I think I’ve made myself as clear as spring water, them kids come back, each one of ’em with their foot in a different loop-hole. The very next mornin’ they was back at it.

“Jack we want to go to Vernal, Utah,” said Spock.

“Good lord, what did I tell you kids yesterday?”

“You said we weren’t going to South America,” said Loretta, “and that we had to keep busy somewhere near the ranch.”

“Vernal is less than two-hundred miles away,” said Hank, “compared to South America, that is near by.”

“Jiminey Christmas, so let me guess, you wanna catch a skin walker?”

“No, a Wendigo. Some people say it’s the same thing as big foot.”

“And some people say they’re the same thing as skin walkers, and skin walkers are Indian witches, and since witches don’t exist, they are just pissed-off Indians.”

“But Jack, this place isn’t too far away and there are many strange stories,” said Spock.

“Everything can be explained, the trick is filterin’ thru all the bull-shit so you can see the truth of it. If you don’t even know what you’re lookin’ for how are ya ever gonna find it?”

“Come on Jack,” said Loretta, “we just want to try.”

“Alright, if this is where you kids wanna go, I suppose I wouldn’t mind going campin’. Y’all have one month to find whatever it is ya wanna find. But we ain’t spendin’ one second longer on a cold trail.”

“Thanks Jack, when can we go?” said Hank.

“Well Hank, this ain’t my trip. I just need to make sure everything is settled here, you four are the one’s that need to come up with the plan. We’ll leave when y’all are ready.”

So they did. They fitted the horse trailer with a special room so Elvis could be comfortably hidden, and we went to Utah. The kids investigated their hunches, set up lores, but unfortunately the month came to an end with nothin’ stranger than a lack of cell-phone reception.

The kids were understandably curmudgeoned by the disappointment of it, so I promised if they did some more research we’d give it a second try. On the way back home we happened upon a man wranglin’ some loose cows that’d got out on the road. “Howdy.”

“Need a hand?” I asked.

“Na I’ll manage, thank you though. Oh hey, if yer headin’ upta the Gorge you’ll wanna stay on highway 191, brush fire’s got highway 44 shut down.”

“I appreciate it.”

“May the Lord bless you in your travels.”

We kept drivin’ a few miles and passed an old barn with the phrase, “Thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name,” written on the side of it.

“Jack what does that mean?” Loretta asked.

“I don’t know pumpkin, maybe we should ask that old cowboy back there, bet that’s his barn.”

A few hours later, and we was back on the ranch. While we unpacked the truck and trailer Jonathan, my head hand, hurried up to me.

“Mr. Jack, them government people was by while you was gone, and they been callin’ most every day.”

“What’d you tell ’em?”

“Just what ya told me, that you’d gone campin’ with a few of the kids. I tried to call, but couldn’t get ya.”

“Thanks Johnny, I’ll take care of it.”

We continued unpackin’, and I took a shower. Supper was pertnear done when the phone rang.

“Hartelius Jackson speakin’.”

“Dr. Jackson, this is James Fitzgerald with GenTec Research Labs, are you available tomorrow for a delivery?”

“Shit boy, I ain’t had y’all’s last delivery but a couple months. How in god’s green acre did y’all manage another critter already?”

“Dr. Jackson the details will be fully disclosed tomorrow, suffice it to say we felt it necessary to delay delivery pending further research and evaluation.”

“Twins then? Christ, ya know, y’all can make critters no problem, but I’m the one who’s rearin’ these little bastards o’ science.”

“As always Dr. Jackson, you will be compensated I assure you.”

“Ya, ya, compensated. Shit, well… I recon there’s no point in talkin’ if ya ain’t gonna tell me nothin’. Evenin’ to ya Mr. Fitzgerald. I’ll welcome your delivery in the mornin’.”

Now I ain’t sure exactly why, but that phone call was a splinter deep in my ass. And I couldn’t do no sittin’ but to think about it. So, I went upstairs to see how Willie was holding’ up. Janet the nanny said ain’t no doubt he was an angel, best baby she ever saw. Sure as shit she didn’t talk that way ’bout Waylon I tell you what. All together I had eight of them critters, all shapes and sizes. And the thought that they’d bring another in the mornin’ just took the fight outta me. I sat there thinkin’, watchin’ that baby fly around near it’s crib and thought, by the time that bugger’s grown, i’ll be an old man.

I took to peerin’ out the window, and them kids was playin’ football in the barn light, carin’ bought nothin’, just like kids aught. Elvis got the ball, put his head down and charged right through Spock. Waylon, so excited to tackle Elvis clocked Loretta in the face tryin’ to get to ‘im, and kept on tryin’ even after Elvis had scored a touchdown.

At breakfast the next day, I told ’em all to put on their smiles for the government men that’d be by anytime.

“But Jack, the doctors aren’t supposed to come for another three months,” said Spock.

“God almighty! What happened to yer eye?”

Elvis starting cow-chucklin’.

“It’s no big deal Jack, it’s just from football last night,” said Spock.

“You look like shit, why wasn’t Waylon guardin’ him?”

“Waylon was gaurdin’ Merle,” said Hank.

“Are the six of you retarded? You had the biggest guardin’ the smallest?”

“Don’t worry Jack, Waylon can’t move fast enough to catch him.”

“You know the day he does Merle will get mashed like a toad on the highway.”

“Waylon”s only getting slower, and Merle is getting faster,”said Hank.

“You better make out a will Merle, before Hank gets you killed.”

The kids all laughed and ate their breakfast. After some time the intercom buzzed and Hank jumped up to answer it.

“Hello, you’ve reached Dr. Jackenstein’s Amazing Monster Emporium. How may I direct your call?”

“Excuse me? Let me talk to an adult.”

“Hank, you idiot, get away from that thing.”

“I assure you I am quite capable of assisting you sir. Now tell me, are you interested in buying today, or are you just…”

I pushed Hank away from the intercom. “I’m sorry about that, this is Hartelius, I’ll be right out to meet you.”

“Jesus Cross-Dressin’ Christ Hank! I can piss off these people well enough without your help. Alright now critters, y’all stay here and finish yer breakfast, I’ll go see what they want.”

“Jack can I come? I’m already finished,” said Loretta.

“Alright Sweet-Pea, go get in the truck. Hank don’t forget to take a couple trout out to your sister.”

“Ahh, but I did it yesterday,” said Hank, “it’s Spock’s turn.”

“You heard me Hank.”

‘Bout ten minutes later Loretta and I were at the front gate. The delivery truck wasn’t the usual one, and neither were the men. I stepped outta my truck and some fella in a suit started talkin’.”

“Good morning Dr. Jackson,” said the man.

“Call me Jack. What can I do for ya?” I said as I disabled the security alarm and opened the gate. Suddenly their truck took to rattlin’ like a diamondback.

“We have a few items to discuss, perhaps you should send the offspring back to the house.”

“Na, she’s fine. From the sound of it ya brung back Janice. Why don’t I just sign for her and y’all can get back to playin’ with stem-cells.”

“Dr. Jackson…”

“Jack.”

“Sorry. Jack, as I said we have a few items to discuss. The return of the test subjects is only one of those items,” said the man.

“Well, hit me man, I’m open.”

Another man got out from their truck holding a carrier kennel, and proceeded to hand it to me.

“Loretta darlin’, why don’t you take this new critter and hop in the cab. I’ll be along directly.”

“Ok, Jack. Can I take it out?” Loretta asked.

“No baby, not yet. Let me see what we got first.”

Loretta left, and the man in the suit handed me a clip-board, which I tossed on the hood of their truck and begun readin’.

“Wait… this one ain’t from Janice? What have you brains done now? Ain’t a thing sacred to you people?”

“We are trying to better understand our existence on this planet Jack,” said the man.

“You found some poor woman pumped her full of Sasquatch semen and expected to learn somethin’ other than it was a fucked up thing to do? What’s item two?” I said as I signed the first paper.

“The test subjects are being returned to you. I however, am sorry to say that the female did not survive the birth of the most recent offspring. We have estimated what we consider generous compensation for your loss,” said the man.

“Ok, tell yer boys to toss ’em both in the back of my truck. You just hit yer stride now, don’t keep me in the dark about item three.”

“You will find further compensation for the extraction and acquisition of eggs and semen from the test subjects,” said the man.

“You want me to sell you sperm and eggs?”

“We already have them Jack. I suggest you take the money. Your lawyer can’t do anything for you this time.”

“You listen to me boy. What yall’re doin’ ain’t right. Them critters ain’t just a science experiment.”

“Dr. Jackson are you going to sign the documents?”

“What about my request?”

“You didn’t wait for item four. We are as anxious to sever this relationship as you are. We received your request for official identification. You’ll find in the attached envelope birth certification reports for each of your ‘critters’. To obtain official birth certificates you will need to submit our official reports along with the included forms to the appropriate state office. GenTec will no longer be concerned with any of your affairs.”

So I signed everything they give me and (with Sasquatch, Janice and the new devil baby) started back to the ranch house. Each time they brung me a critter I wondered if I’d somehow heralded the apocalypse, but that daughter of the morning swaddled up in Loretta’s arms had my soul down right chilled this time.

“Soooo, Jack, what are we going to name her?”

“I don’t know kiddo, how about Skeeter?”

“Skeeter? Really Jack? That’s not a girl’s name.”

“Well, you name her then.”

“Ummm how about Patsy?”

“Patsy it is.”

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