The gargoyles were not broken on the small town church until the righteous storm of 1963 when everyone in that sleepy place believed they’d gravely sinned–dancing too stompy–at a raucous Knights of Columbus, New Year’s Eve celebration. Gabriel, the avenging angel arrived that woeful wet night to sort their small town souls into piles. His dispatching sword had sliced at will along the way, sparking small fires and cutting down church roof embellishments. As self-punishment, it was unanimously decided that the smashed Gothic heads must remain where they died. Humping along a back road path, she catches a sense of beast.
A bit of a girl with a penchant for black and white horror, is little Lisset. She proudly noticed King Kong had ping-pong-ball eyes way before Lenny, Alby and Byron ever did. She is passing the empty church yard where only the dead dare sleep this time of day. Fierce bulging eyes stare up at her. The outrageous weeds slither through flaring beastly nostrils. Lisset kicks a busted jaw. She thinks rattling old gargoyle canines is pretty funny and she wants to swing the steel-reinforced toes of her new black work boots. She’d menaced her mom until her two dainty feet were clad in tough leather construction. Claimed the all-weather boots were quite necessary for monster hunts. Lenny, Alby and Byron wore silly Toughskin boots. Hers are the ones she remembers on her father’s feet. Monsters had taken him away a long time ago when she was much smaller than she was now. Her father wasn’t wearing his steel-toes that gloomy day. Lisset still sometimes dreams of worn bluejeans and dark work boots with yellow laces. She stares at photos to remember his face, otherwise she can only picture Don Brown from the kneecaps down.
The sky is blackening, ominous grey and good–a perfect day for monster hunting. In the distance, rumbling ogre bellies echo over the mountain peaks. Lisset is to meet Lenny, Alby and Byron. Lenny and Alby are afraid of storms. Brother disease is what Lisset calls it. It seems whatever Lenny fears, his younger brother fears also. She also knows if Lenny and Alby are not coming, Byron won’t show either. Lisset calls this boy doofessness. With her black magic shoes laced to the top eyelets, Lisset marches on. She must make the treeline before late afternoon. Once there, she will sit and wait. Most monster hunting is done this way. It’s a waiting game. All the best pros know–the thrill is careful, observational patience but the payoff is priceless. Lisset must be patient and wait too. The legend says, “If you see Wampus and do not run, she might answer a single question if she decides not to kill you first.”
Behind Mount Whitman, electric bolts light up the sky. Lisset wonders if the gargoyles fear lightning since it sliced their heads clean off. There are to be no sidetracking thoughts, Lisset. Her steel-toes chat sense back into her wound-up mind. She will wait for Wampus Cat and pray for the best. She will hope its foul death breath is manageable. She will pray it does not kill her with its powerful claws and razor sharp teeth. If Wampus lets the young girl live she can ask one question. If Lisset is ever to find her father, she must find a monster first. And the odds aren’t too bad while she wears her black magic shoes.
Wampus Cat created with Tombow markers about two years ago for a special project-thank you