Night of the Swamp Creature
You can believe this tale really happened or you can not believe it. I'm here to tell you that every word is the God's honest truth.
It was 1972 and I was camping with my childhood chum Lenny on some obscure piece of bayou in southern Louisiana. I had already crawled into the tent for what I thought was the night. Lenny was just outside, finishing up his traditional bedtime snack of orange juice and chocolate chip cookies. (If I tell you that this remains a favorite of his to this very day, then I also telegraph the fact that both my friend and I somehow survived this horrific incident.)
I was right on the cusp of fading into slumber when Lenny suddenly called me.
"Quick get out here!"
I liked crawling out of bed no better back then than I do today, but the urgency in his voice had me stumbling through the tent's zippered flap in about ten seconds.
"Look!" he said.
"Don't you see it?" he asked, pointing excitedly into the black night.
And now I surely did. There in this pitch darkness I could easily make out two glowing eyes, eyes that were now clearly focused back on me.
"What is it?" Lenny asked.
I answered in truth that I didn't have a clue, and then retreated back into the tent to retrieve my camera. As I mentioned, this incident took place in the early '70's when one of the popular movies of the day was something called The Legend of Boggy Creek. We hadn't seen the movie but just about everyone knew that it was about some sort of hideous swamp creature that may or may not exist in the Arkansas swamps.
Well, we weren't in Arkansas, but we were certainly in the swamps. And it was dark and it was spooky and we both had very active imaginations. So when you take all of that into consideration what we did next might be classified as sort of brave. Sort of.
Quietly we crept towards our car and started it. The plan was to drive slowly towards the creature, whatever manner of beast it might be, without scaring it off. Then we would suddenly turn on the headlights and, hopefully, not be so terrified by what we saw that we'd fail get a picture.
We started the car, which sounded blaringly loud to us on this dark and quiet bayou. We looked again and confirmed that the eyes were still glaring at us. Whatever it was, car engine or no car engine, this thing wasn't running anywhere. Except maybe at us.
Lenny put the car in gear as I clutched the camera in my now-sweaty hands, and we slowly crept forward. Still those eyes weren't backing down. When we determined that we were close enough to take a photo (but not too close, heh-heh) Lenny quickly switched on the headlights. A second later the dark Louisiana night was further split by the flash from my camera. Got 'im!
As I stared at the huge creature I marveled that no matter how much you think you know in life, and no matter what your age, there's always something new to learn. For example, I never knew that cows are sometimes let out to graze at night. Did you?