Saturday, March 24, 2012

Old Man Brakken

March 1926
High Desert of eastern Idaho

Journal of Clyde Preston Merrill Berrett Packer
(Spelling and Punctuation modernized)

I still remember the day old man Brakken lost his courage.

It was early spring of ‘26. Dad papa had headed off to the war, and money was tight for a family of eight kids. Mom had been doing Old man Brakken's laundry and we kids were his hired labor on his ranch, where the desert meets the buttes. When the bank took away our house, Brakken let us live with him. That’s just he way he was, could cuss up a storm, and chew you out til you couldn’t find a corner small enough to hide in, but looking back, i can see he was a good man. Takin in this family of Mormons, when his preacher told him we were of the devil and he’d go to hell with us.

Living with him, I saw just how old fashioned he was. I seen him stand between a mama cow with her calf and a bear. Only his shot gun protecting him. I seen him pull the wood sleigh by himself in the dead of winter, when his horses refused to go further. I seen him break a chicken’s neck and eat her raw, when we was out on the range, and needed food.

But this was different. It started about a week before. The animals started acting really weird. horses’ colts being still bourne. The chickens stopped laying eggs. The cows milk turned sour. And they were on edge. I couldn't get the bull to follow me to the new pasture. When Brakken came, thought he’d get mad. He couldn’t get him to move either. And not for lack of cussing and kicking.

The goats started attacking my little sisters whenever they left the house. Lil’ Ruthy, fell and broke her arm. Brakken got real distant. Spent a lot of time talking to other ranchers, late into the night. Ain’t none of them knew what was going on.

Then came the stench. Smelt like you took rotten eggs, mixed it with cow dung, and let it set sun for a month, in a puddle of rotting potatoes. First thing I wanted to do in the morning was retch, last thing in the evening too. And you can't’ sleep all that well when you dream of being stuck in the bottom of a latrine for the entirety of the evening. We all took to wearing kerchiefs around our nose and mouth. Not that it helped. The stench permeated everything. inside the ranch house and out.

There were tracks too, large tracks. Looked like that of a man, but too big, and the balance was all wrong and the gait too long and tufts of moss like hair, in the trees and caught on the barbed wire. Of course then the livestock started to get ate. Old man Brakken had had enough.

It was about ten pm. When we the cows started acting up. Sounded like every single one of them, male and female, was given birth all at once. And there was another scream. An unearthly howl that reached from the solid core of the earth to the wispy firmament above. A howl of deep primal hunger, and rage.

I wish i’d been man enough to go with him. But when he grabbed his hat and gun, I froze. He looked at me with disgust, told my mom to hid the children (and he looked at me as he said it) in the cellar and to bar the door.

He was gone for the better part of the night. Even though the air was still, and we were deep in the cellar we could still hear the moos, and the breas and the gunshots. And that deep howl, the guttural groan, entering every nook and crevice of the ranch and our souls.

It finally stopped. All of it. We stayed nestled in the cellar next to the bean and spuds. Come morning, i found courage to see what happened.

The scene was out of the bible, when the Lord commanded the entire land to be destroyed. The farm was down, the carcases of heard stretched across the entire back forty. Not a single cow was left alive. it was utter desolation.

Took hours to find old man Brakken. When i finally did, he was at the bottom of the latrine. Babbling incoherently. curled up like a baby. “so big, so big, so hairy, “ we fished him out, and noticed the smell was gone. He stayed in his room for days. When he finally could speak he told a tale of a beast. In the form of a man, but larger, stronger, and unnatural, like it came from the depths of the earth.

We moved back to the city soon. I prefer it. Sure there is the noise of the cars, and the people, and the occasional stench of the hessian. But Nothing like the night hell rose up on old man Brakken's farm.

Writers note. I’d like to thank my Dad who introduced me to Bigfoot Lore and told stories much more engaging than this one to youths camping on the trampoline in the back yard.