Publication: The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: August 5, 1995
By Roy Teicher
Elkin Haas returned home from work. It had been another day of great disappointment. Such is the life of America's last Bigfoot hunter. He wearily trudged through the front door, placed his rifle and camera on the kitchen counter and poured himself a glass of ice water.
A few seconds later, his wife, Beth, also arrived. For the past 24 years, she had taught at a local preschool. In 1972, in the woods, adjacent to the playground, she first set eyes on a dashing young man with a rifle, a camera, and a dream to capture the "man-beast."
In recent years, Elkin and Beth had steadily grown apart. On June 23, 1990, after Elkin once again returned home with the announcement: "No Bigfoot today, honey," Beth enrolled in night school. The financial strain also had affected his relationship with his 14-year-old son, Mark, who seemed somewhat ashamed of his father and now spoke with unveiled cynicism. Arriving home, Mark turned to his Dad and said, "Some pretty big footprints down by the mailbox."
Dinner that night was particularly tense. They took turns giving perfunctory recaps of their respective days. Beth told of a finger-painting mishap, and Mark announced that he remembered nothing of the day, except that he had no homework.
It was Elkin's turn: "I ventured into the woods, looking for the man-beast . ." Beth picked up the paper, Mark dozed off on his plate and Elkin continued: "In the distance, I saw something quite large. Very hairy, with enormous feet. I said to myself, could this be Bigfoot?" Beth interrupted: "Elkin, did you pick up milk on the way home?" "Sorry," said Elkin, "I was consumed by the hunt." Mark lifted his head: "Next time you're at Circle K, check out the man-beast behind the counter."
Undeterred, Elkin continued: "I would approximate his height at 7 foot, 9 inches. Although, for the international casebook, the entry would have to appear as 2.4 meters." "How many casebooks do you appear in, Dad?" questioned his bemused son. Beth, as always, came to Elkin's defense: "Do not talk to your father like that. We must support him in his quest for foot-beast." Elkin exploded: "What is foot-beast? There is no such thing as foot-beast! After all these years, how could you not know who I am hunting for! You never listen! I'm out there in the woods all day, tracking evolution's greatest mystery, and you can't even get the name right!"
There was a stunned silence. Elkin, always awkward in these situations and uncertain how to proceed, simply continued with his day's tale: "I knew I was closing in on the man-beast. Beneath me, in the sand, was a sight I was unfamiliar with." "A paycheck?" blurted Beth, in uncharacteristic bluntness. Elkin waited for the last of his veins to pop, then launched into a spirited defense of his quixotic pursuits: "When you married me, you knew what my goal was. You knew I did not seek money. You knew I did not seek comfort. You knew that I only sought the man-beast. When I met your father, he asked me how I intended to support you, and I told him there would be a sizable reward for the capture of Bigfoot. Though he said nothing, I knew I had his blessings. And now, after 23 years, to hear you flout the chase of the man-beast is a crushing disappointment."
Once again, there was an uncomfortable silence. This was a family in crisis. Elkin responded the only way he knew how. He continued his tale: "Now where was I? Oh yes. I thought it was the man-beast, but in fact, it was not. And that was my day." Deep down, Elkin knew something would have to change. He was watching his marriage dissolve and to save it, something had to give. He held Beth's hand and took a deep breath. Beth sensed she was about to hear the words that she'd longed for. Elkin smiled, took another deep breath and said: "Honey, I feel us moving apart. . . .I'd like you to quit your job and join me in the hunt."
Submission by Marlene Trask
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