The things men do in the woods
The preparations for the trip were both meticulous and nearly complete. But as was the case with nearly every plan in Zane and Barry’s life, Nana was slowing things down. This was after all, her life’s work.;
“Now, tell me where you’re going again.”
“Into the woods, Nana.”
“Now, Zane love. You’re not making any sense to me.”
“Come on Mum. Zane’s already explained what we’re doing.”
“Shut up Barry. If I’m asking again, it’s because he’s not explained it clearly enough. Now, try again for your old Nan. Come on Zane, my little pumpkin.”
“Nana, I’m twenty three. Twenty three! Please stop calling me Pumpkin.”
“Look Mum. I’ll say it again, we’re going squatchin’ in the woods.”
“Squatchin’? What’s that Barry? It sounds like you’re squatting while watching.”
“Well, in an odd sense, we are. In an odd sense we are. We’re going into the woods to look for a sasquatch. A bigfoot.”
“Oh. In Sherwood Forest? That’ll be nice. Can I come?”
“Now, Mum, we’ve been; through this before. You can’t come with us because this is Man’s Business. Father and son bonding time. Me and Zane in the woods, at one with nature, looking for the hairy man.”
Later that day, as dusk gathered, Zane and Barry could be seen leaving their house in Edwinstowe, baseball caps on heads, rucksacks on backs. Nana sat in her usual armchair, looking rather folorn. Zane had given her a teeshirt he’d got on ebay and she’d put it on over her paisley dress. It had a slogan on the front that she’d already forgotten the meaning of. Gone squatchin’.
There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to step up, thought Colin as he looked over at Tyrone. And this was the moment. They were gathering the necessaries for their trip into the woods. Snacks? Check. Plastic groundsheet? Check. Condoms? Check. Binoculars? Check. Notepad and pencil (well you never know when you need them)? Check.
Tyrone looked at Colin and even the cat on the arm of the settee could see he was about to say something.
“Dad, I know you’ve been planning this for a long time, but do we have to go?"
“Have to go? Of course we have to go. We’re not dipping out now. People will be relying on us.”
“But, it’s embarrassing. I don’t want to go into the woods and watch people having sex! Even if they want me to.”
“Now, Tyrone. I’ve told you before. It’s a bloody privilege to be invited. I’ve been going for years, as you know. But this is your time to shine. It’s a rite of passage for you now you’re twenty one. Off doggin’ with your old man. Kids, these days, you don’t know an opportunity when it bites you in the arse.”
“But Dad, that’s kind of my point. I don’t want to see your arse.”
“It’s all about ground rules, Tyrone. Ground rules. Watch until you’re asked. If you’re asked – join in as you see fit. Do or be done to, it’s your choice really. There’s only one rule in this game; obey the law of the dog.”
So bags packed, doubts put aside for the moment at least, they shut the door of their Edwinstowe terrace, got in the car and headed out for Sherwood Forest.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the people of the Small Stature Re-enactment Society were preparing for their annual Robin Hood and his Merry Men outdoor tableau.
All was good to go, apart from poor old Leon. He’d not caught up with his e-mails and had thought it was Tarzan Night instead. He felt cold embarrassment as Little John stared down at his leopard skin loincloth with a look of pity and deep disdain on his face.
Barry and Zane had seen the TV programme on Animal Planet and it was watching it that got them into the whole searching for a sasquatch thing in the first place. ‘Finding BigFoot’, with its loud American team, running about woods in the USA and Canada, searching, for, er, Bigfoot.
Zane was gloomily reflecting on the programme as he and his dad walked into Sherwood Forest. Two of the guys’ who presented it stuck out in particular for Zane - Matt Moneymaker (you could never accuse him of hiding his intentions) and James ‘Bobo’ Fay. About nine feet tall, with the impassive expression of a stone cold killer and a mullet the eighties would have been proud of. Bobo was clearly half man, half sasquatch and Zane admired the cunning of the beast, hiding in such plain sight. A sasquatch in a team of sasquatch hunters; the elephant in the forest as it were.
Zane couldn’t help feeling, though, that ultimately squatchin’ was something of a futile pursuit. He’d never say this to his dad, but he reckoned that if the hunters had never categorically seen one in the whole of the great woods of North America, the chances of him and his dad finding one in the one hundred and sixty five square miles of Sherwood Forest was negligible.
His dad thought differently though. “It’s all about the hope, son”, he’d say. “One day, you never know what we’ll find. You never know.”
It wasn’t in all honesty much of a trip either. Yes, they were tooled up in all their outdoor gear and yes, they were prepared for all eventualities. But actually, Barry and Zane were only about a mile and a half from their house where a mildly confused Nana was gently snoring in her chair.
They’d left the main paths and the touristy part of the forest now and were heading into rougher territory. They took their nightlights out of their backpacks, attached them to their selfie sticks and as darkness fell, moved deeper into the woods.
Colin parked the Mondeo in the public car park and then he and Tyrone gathered their bags together to make the walk into the forest. The silence between them was palpable. Whatever his dad said, Tyrone just wasn’t convinced.
There was nothing whatsoever that attracted him about the plan. The coldness of being outside well into the middle of the night, the hunger of not having anything other than Monster Munch and pop, the watching of or participating in sex with strangers. No, it really wasn’t for him.
His dad was walking in front of him and whenever he looked round to see if Tyrone was keeping up, the look on his dad’s face was one of eager expectation - quite grotesque in the lengthening shadows.
Lutin’ and lootin'
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the poet was wandering lonely as a poet in the forest, thinking about words and rhymes. He decided some music might soothe his troubled soul, so he put his lute app on his iphone and continued walking in time to the softly strumming music. He was so transported, he failed to notice the man in the striped jumper burying his swag in a hollow under an oak tree.
Barry and Zane were getting down to business and had got their sticks out.
“Come on, Zane, get smacking those trees.”
“Dad, I honestly don’t know why we should. You know it won’t work.”
“You’ve just got to believe. Smack the trunk of a suitable tree with your stick. Listen carefully and wait for any nearby sasquatch to respond in kind.”
“Do I have to?”
“Just do it. Think of the grey man appearing majestically out of the mist. Think of the thrill when we finally see one. Now, let’s do it together. One, two, three”
They smacked their sticks in unison and…
“Let’s try the call. That usually brings the buggers out. I’ll do it, Zane, because I know you’ve haven’t quite perfected it yet.”
Barry cupped his hands to his mouth and hooted long and hard into the night air. The sound echoed round the ancient forest and…
Zane adjusted his nightlight and sat down on a nearby tree trunk. Sighing, he looked out into the void.
Colin and Tyrone had arrived at their destination. A clearing in the forest, plastic sheeting on the ground and everywhere, white arses of all shapes - highlighted by their night lights, bobbing in the breeze. There were noises too. Groans and whoops from the participators and the occasional intakes of breath from the non-participating observers at the clearing’s edge.
Tyrone had stopped stock still, but he looked round to see his dad ripping off his rucksack and trousers. Rubbing his hands, he bounded in to the melee, shouting over his shoulder “Get in my son!”
Tyrone adjusted his nightlight and sat down on a nearby tree trunk. Sighing, he looked out into the void.
Meanwhile in another part of the forest, the bare chested woman was rearranging her harness. The man who was going to master her adjusted her reins and she shook her head and neighed.
“Come on little horsey, let’s get trotting”, the man said, raising his whip.
The bare chested woman neighed again and began to clip clop into the night.
Zane continued to sit on his tree trunk, brooding on the meaning of life. His dad had moved away from him, but he could hear his increasingly desperate hooting somewhere in the forest’s canopy.
He was thinking he needed something more visceral in his life, more tangible than squatchin’ and he was so deep in thought, he barely noticed the troupe of small stature merry men and a disconsolate looking Tarzan walking past him. The poet wandered past in a lonely way, but again Zane was so in his own head, he barely noticed him.
“There’s got to be more to life than this”, Zane said out loud.
Tyrone continued to sit on his tree trunk, brooding on the meaning of life. His dad’s arse was now indistinguishable from any one of the other arse bobbers in the clearing and somehow, this comforted Tyrone.
He was thinking he needed something more hopeful in his life, more intangible than doggin’ and he was so deep in thought, he barely noticed the troupe of small stature merry men who seemed to be fighting with a small stature Tarzan. Nearby, the man in the striped jumper was burying his loot in various new holes, like a demented squirrel; but again Tyrone was so in his own head, he barely noticed him.
“There’s got to be more to life than this”, Tyrone said out loud.
Both squatchin' and doggin’
The bare chested woman cantered past, lifting her legs up high, dressage style, as her master shouted, “Tally ho!”
She pranced past Tyrone and interrupted his reverie. Watching her progress, he said to himself, “Doggin’? I’d much rather be squatchin’”.
She pranced past Zane and interrupted his reverie. Watching his progress, he said to himself, “Squatchin’? I’d much rather be doggin’”.