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Bigfoot Dreams by Francine Prose {Excerpt}

Bigfoot Dreams by Francine Prose {Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Though she’s written dispatches from across the globe—covering the Loch Ness monster, live dinosaurs, and the ever-enigmatic yeti—Vera Perl never leaves the offices of This Week, a supermarket tabloid covering the universe’s stranger side. Her reporting is done entirely inside her own head, and now she’s contemplating a Bigfoot exposé that will astonish even the most jaded conspiracy theorist. No one is better than Vera at imagining these weird, wild stories, because more than anything, she wants them to be true.

One day she dreams up a scoop about two Brooklyn children whose lemonade stand has amazing curative properties, and is shocked to learn that the children she invented actually exist. The resulting lawsuit sends this master of hoaxes into a very real tailspin, and a search for something even more elusive than Bigfoot: solace.
Though she’s written dispatches from across the globe—covering the Loch Ness monster, live dinosaurs, and the ever-enigmatic yeti—Vera Perl never leaves the offices of This Week, a supermarket tabloid covering the universe’s stranger side. Her reporting is done entirely inside her own head, and now she’s contemplating a Bigfoot exposé that will astonish even the most jaded conspiracy theorist. No one is better than Vera at imagining these weird, wild stories, because more than anything, she wants them to be true.

One day she dreams up a scoop about two Brooklyn children whose lemonade stand has amazing curative properties, and is shocked to learn that the children she invented actually exist. The resulting lawsuit sends this master of hoaxes into a very real tailspin, and a search for something even more elusive than Bigfoot: solace.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Sep 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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!
 
Francine Prose
BIGFOOT DREAMS
 
!
IN THE SUBWAY GOING to work, Vera decides to write about Bigfoot.Her story will be datelined from some backwater southern town that has been growing an acre of tobacco as a kind of vegetable sacrifice ever sinceBigfoot loped into town one night and smashed up a Texaco station andmade off with fifty cartons of cigarettes. Eyewitnesses describe a hairycreature, fifteen feet tall and stinking like a giant ashtray. Every fall, bathtub-sized footprints can be tracked from the woods through the clayfields to the tobacco patch where Bigfoot comes to claim his crop.Across the aisle, a good-looking kid in white painter’s jeans with atool box tucked under his work boots sits reading
 Motorcycle World 
andlooking worried. From time to time he takes a cigarette from behind hisear and rubs it lovingly between his fingers. He has beautiful hands, andwatching them, Vera thinks of the headline:
BIGFOOT LIGHTS UP
. Chancesare he will never see Vera’s story, and yet she is writing it for him. For despite everything Vera knows, some part of her still believes that you canmake someone who wants a smoke feel better by telling him how Bigfootwants it worse.There’s a game Vera plays called Where-Did-This-Story-Come-From? Aside from the obvious—the kid, the Li’l Abner boots, thecigarette—two answers seem clear. First: Six months without a cigarettehasn’t made Vera quit wanting one. Second: She’s worked at
This Week 
too long. UFO sightings, sex-change aliens, cancer cures in the humblestgarden vegetables, new evidence of life after death. Yetis, Loch Nessmonsters, live dinosaurs in hidden African valleys. Five years of writingthese stories have taken their toll: Vera can’t see a handsome face or bootsor an unlit cigarette without thinking about Bigfoot.It’s rush hour, but the front car’s nearly empty. Years ago Vera andher friend Louise used to ride the first car the way other girls rode horses.Knees braced, leaning into the turns, faces pressed against the front
 
Francine Prose
BIGFOOT DREAMS
 
!
window so the tunnel came rushing straight at them, they’d pretended itwas dangerous, and now it is. Often now Vera warns her daughter,Rosalie, to stick with the crowds and the transit cops in the middle. ButVera still rides the front out of loyalty to who she once was and becausenow more than ever it draws certain types: People who need room, whodon’t care if it’s dangerous or simply don’t know. In this last group areevery imaginable variety of halfway house resident, shopping-bag lady,and screamer.Vera can’t remember so many people talking to themselves.Maybe she and Louise were just making too much of their own noise tohear. She can’t remember when she started hearing them nor when shestopped fearing they’d start screaming at her. Vera’s only half jokingwhen she tells herself that screamers are her way of keeping in touch withher audience. They’re like
This Week:
the same subjects keep croppingup—atom bombs, the environment, the whole world buried under junk cars and poisoned and finally blown up. But their great theme, the themethat underlines and transforms every word, is the suffering of the innocent,deception and betrayal by everyone from Henry Kissinger to circuit court judges, doctors, husbands, wives, parents, best friends. Vera’s first byline— 
DEMENTO DENTIST PLANTS CB RADIOS IN MALPRACTICEMOLARS
 —came from something she heard on the train. On good days shelikes to think of herself as a kind of screamer spokeswoman, bearing their messages to the world.Today there’s just her and the good-looking kid. If someone werescreaming, she’d be listening instead of writing Bigfoot stories in her head. As the train nears 34th Street, she stands and walks past the kid,noticing only now that his mouth is beautiful, too. The regret Vera feels isso piercing and disproportionate, she knows it must be about somethingelse. But before she can figure out what, the train lets her out and she

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