“Jose? What do your people say? Your folklore say about them?”
I’m an open-minded guy and in my 39 years on the third rock from the sun, I’ve seen some strange and unexplainable things. I’d heard the stories, seen some video footage about how a couple of supposed chupacabra had turned up dead or shot by landowners, turned out to be coyotes with sarcoptic mange, skin rot. East Texas wasn’t that far away.
Lil Jose sighed and leaned forward, his beard stubble silver white in the flickering firelight.
“Some say they were experiment, by US Army, in the 70s-80s, biowarfare, created in secret lab by white coated bastards, secret labs, south of the border, where not too many questions asked, I’ve heard they killed the scientist and guards and escaped into jungle?” he said.
“Others say it was deliberate? Turned loose on the rebels by El Presidente?” I was getting shivers, Lil Jose had style, I hit the joint again.
“I’ve also herd that they were…how do you say? Genetic mutants, caused by toxic waste dumps?” He continued. “The old ones say they are demons? Set loose by El Diablo himself, to punish the Wicked.”
Fire was dying down, getting late, the women began to gather up items and move them into the house, taking the lanterns with them. It grew darker. A log popped and crackled, flaring up briefly. Temperature had dropped from mid 50s to high 40s in the couple hours I’d been there, eating tacos and drinking beers, blazing a couple of joints. I was tired and dirty and pleasantly buzzed. A bit of a drive home to the Garden District apartment I shared with my girlfriend. I needed to head that way soon. Zero cell phone signals here, towers still down after Katrina. Might as well be on the moon.
The Jose’s walked me around to my truck, we briefly discussed their sweet little minivan; when I went to start the Bastard, there was no sudden rumble, just solenoid click of the starter. My dumbass had left the auxiliary on?! I popped the rusty hood on the Bastard and fished my jumpers out of the toolbox. The Jose’s jumped me off with the van and the Bastard’s engine rumbled to life. Some good ole boys had tuned and basic overhauled it for me in Tennessee before I left. That truck was a beast!
We were discussing how I should get back to the I-Ten when the night was pierced by a sharp high-pitched trilling sound! VERY close by! In the darkness to my left! The Jose’s exchanged looks and said, “see you mañana Amigo!” and quickly departed to the warmth, light and safety of their home. I dropped the Bastard into gear, feeling vaguely like Mad Max about to navigate the ruined badlands back to the Ten. I had a bit of a buzz but chilly damp air coming through cleared my head.
Defrost and high beams on, I drove along slowly for awhile, dodging downed utility poles and trees, couldn’t see lights of hear traffic from the Ten, couldn’t be but a couple miles West? Felt like The Last Man on Earth.
I’d changed Johnny out for Dwight and he was wailing about that fabled last ride in that Long White Cadillac and I turned onto a really dark, desolate street that still had some trees standing. Making it even darker, the Bastard’s headlights barely keeping the gloom at bay. Rolling at 5 mph, motor idling heavy and burbling. Dwight had segued into I Sang Dixie. I was feeling copacetic when off to the right, on the edge of the street, something stood up! Startled by the highbeams, its fucking eyes!? Reflecting back red?!?! Demonic red!?
It threw something down in the tall weeds, screeching that horrible trilling and it ran in front of me, leaped onto a pole, swiftly scaled it, jumped onto a power line, did a hand-to-hand back across the street and jumped into a tall pine!
Branches creaking and snapping, I heard a loud thump and it screeched again, fading away into the dark. It was leaping from roof to roof, thumps fading, out distant.
I threw the Bastard into park, 45 in my lap; I don’t remember drawing it. I’d only actually seen it maybe 15 seconds?! It was squat, three-to-four feet high, muscled, wiry, matted grey fur over green scaly looking skin and several tube-like appendages hung from its upper back; fucking red demon eyes!! No visible tail.
They say curiosity killed the cat? But the cat died…quite satisfied. I stepped out of the truck, 45 in hand. Thinking better of it, I holster the pistol and drag the 590 Mossberg from its sheath on the bench seat. Thirty-six inches of cold steel and sex appeal! I thumb off the safety and its hot, nine fat buckshot rounds, with eight .32-caliber pellets per shell. When you absolutely, positively gotta kill bloodsuckin’ demonic fucks!
I grab my four-cell Maglight from the seat, beat to shit like everything else I owned but with fresh Duracells inside. Flick it on and a reassuring cone of light. With the 590 on my hip pointed skyward, I walk into my high-beams, Bastard’s engine the only sound, what had the slimy looking fuck thrown down?
In the harsh glare of the mag light laid the desiccated, mummified carcass of a cat! Looked like it had been dead for a long minute? But the fresh wound on its throat glistened red and wet, like it had all the good juices sucked out of it?! Steam was coming off it it in the damp, chilly air.
All the hair on the back of my neck stood up and cold chills ran up my spine, suddenly that goddamned trilling call erupted! From all around! Lil Jose’s words came back to me, like a Latino Obi Wan Kenobi: “They can take down a man in numbers.”
Fuck that!! I touched off a round skyward, it was deafening! “Goddamn ya!! Goat-sucking, cat-killing ain’t getting me!! I’ve got the boomstick!!” I said.
Walking around the hood to the drivers side door I fast pump four rounds into the dark, muzzle flashes lighting up the street, buckshot clattering hard off empty houses and cars, spent shells clinking on the pavement, I laid the 590 and Maglight on the seat, jump, 45 in lap and gun the Bastard hard, doing a fast K-turn. Think I hit a couple of flooded-out cars doing this but I didn’t give a fuck!! I’m getting out of this fucking hellhole!!
I rammed a burned-out dumpster on wheels, out of my way. The Bastard finally getting to cut loose after idling and weaving all over hell and half the lower 9th Ward! My buzz long gone, I was riding a wave of adrenaline dump. I thought of going back and burning out their nest if I could find it?
I had a full five-gallon gas can in my truck, plenty of ammo and some road flares. The more I thought about it, I decided not to, not at night and no backup.
I probably hit a hundred mph all the way back to our Lower Garden District apartment. As soon as I walked in she started in on me.
“It’s midnight! You should have been home at 8?!” she said. “Are you drunk?! You smell like weed and gunpowder?! What the fuck, Jay?! Have you been fucking that slutty blonde bartender at Igor’s?! I’ve seen her making eyes at you!! Fucking kill that bitch!!”
“You wouldn’t believe me if…” and it went on for a goddamned hour. I went toe-to-toe with el chupacabra, in no man’s land and survived. Was kind of wishing they had killed me at this point, I KNOW what I saw!! She’s probably still convinced I was cheating?!
We split up a year later. I never did bang that slutty bartender at Igor’s. Had another run-in with el chupacabra but that’s another story.