From The Bonhomme Gazette, June 2, 1998
MONSTERS IN THE BAYOU?
Editorial by Amie LeBeau
I believe in monsters. Monsters killed my father, or so I’ve always been told; always believed. Monsters took my father from me, and nobody knows why. No one was ever arrested for his murder, in fact, nobody talks about it at all. My own mother won’t talk about it; won’t talk about the missing children — the ones that just seemed to walk into the night and disappear back when I was just a baby.
Now children are disappearing again, and I can’t believe that I’m the only one asking mysef if this is only the beginning. How long until someone turns up like my father? More importantly, is there a monster in Bayou Bonhomme? We’ve all heard the various legends about Remy LeVert — my personal favourite is the one about how he’s an ancient creature from another dimension who crashed here in his spaceship millions of years ago, and has been living here all this time, occasionally surfacing to feed, and then sleeping until he’s hungry again. Or how about the one where Remy LeVert is the fabled swamp monster that all those Creature Features are based on, and that he takes people out into the swamp and transforms them into monsters like him? That in fact, there are actually dozens of monsters out there, forming a little monster community right here in our town? There’s even a funny one that says that Remy is a Sasquatch — just our version of the Bigfoot monster — and that he’s just lonely.
But what if all that’s just smoke and bluster to cover up the fact that there are monsters right here in Bayou Bonhomme? Monsters that walk on two legs just like you and me? What might they look like? Do you think they’re all green and mossy and strange like that painting on the sign when you enter town? Do they have giant teeth and weird sucker hands? Do they look like some mutant gator, scaly and horrifying? Or do they maybe look like your bank teller? Your butcher? The check out girl down at the Piggly Wiggly?
There are things we do not talk about in Bayou Bonhomme, or if we do talk about them, they are with a nod and a wink. We say the name Remy LeVert as a joke — a local spook story we use to attract the tourists and sell T-shirts. There’s another name, though. A name I’ve heard once or twice, spoken in hushed tones, and when it is spoken, the room goes quiet. C’thuN’Chuk. Is this the monster’s name? In my research into the history of Bayou Bonhomme, I found reference to this word. Supposedly it’s a Tonikan word (the language of the first peoples — the Chitimacha) meaning “the good man”. The Chitimacha had a story about a thing that lived in the bayou. There are stories of French settlers going back to the early 1700s that mention mysterious disappearances and violent confrontations between the French and the native Chitimachas. There are no definitive sightings of this C’thuN’Chuk, but the same name turns up again and again over the period of nearly two hundred years. But then again, so does the name Santa Claus. So who knows what to believe?
People are dying. Strange things have happened in Bayou Bonhomme for as long as anyone can remember. So the truth can only be one of two things: either there truly is a monster that lives in the bayou, and has been here for longer than anyone here now, or else the monsters are living here on dry land, and have been committing atrocities for a hundred years for more. Something is going on in Bayou Bonhomme, and we cannot continue to ignore it.
The police have kept a tight lid on what’s been going on with the investigation into the missing children — six so far that we know of — and while everyone knows that one body has been found, there seems to be nothing so far on the other five. Chief Gillette was not forthcoming when I approached him for information, and seemed to be as in the dark about it as you or I.
If I had to give my impression, it would be that the Chief was frightened. For a man that has a reputation for being firmly in control of this town, that was most alarming.
For the first time in my adult life, I, too, am terribly afraid.
You should be, too.
From the Journal of Jean-Baptiste Levesque
June 7th, 1998
How did I not see this until today? I surely hope that young lady knows what she’s doing. Part of me wants to reach out to her, but I’m afraid if she is seen meeting with me, that might just be her death sentence. I could tell her so much — about her pappy, about what’s been going on in this town, and about who the real monsters are. She seems like she’s got fire, but that kind of fire is likely to get her killed. Had I known this article existed the day it came out, I would’ve rounded up every single copy and burnt them all before that bitch Olivia Hereford got wind of it. As it was now, it was far too late, and I could only hope that nothing bad happened to Miss LeBeau.
Oscar remembered that day like it was yesterday. He had been with Chief Gillette when he had gone to pick up Amie LeBeau. It was supposed to be a friendly warning, but Oscar had thought that the Chief had been more threatening than necessary.
“You got people all fired up,” Chief Gillette had been furious. “Causin’ a panic. People lookin’ at their neighbours as if they’re killers and monsters. Why, just today, I had to stop three fights, and I got three jail cells in the basement full of folks that are ordinarily well-behaved.”
Amie sat steely-eyed across from the two police men and took her lecture without even a quivering lip. Oscar admired and hated her at the same time.
“Maybe I ought to send you down there to lock up, too,” the Chief threatened.
“On what charge?” Amie cried indignantly.
The Chief glowered at her but said nothing in reply.
“I thought not,” Amie said, and crossed her arms on her chest.
“Your irresponsible journalism is causing public disturbances.”
“Freedom of the press, Chief,” Amie replied without missing a beat.
“Look, I’m trying to look out for you, Miss LeBeau,” Chief Gillette said, changing his tactics. “Consider this a warning. You continue writing this kind of thing, and there’s no telling who you might upset. I can’t be held responsible for what might happen to you in that situation.”
“Are you threatening me?” Amie roared.
The Chief didn’t say anything. Oscar sat quietly. He was just along for the ride on this one, and had no idea what was going through his boss’ head.
“You know something, don’t you?” Amie said, suddenly going pale.
Then the Chief said something that Oscar though was terribly strange, and though he’d never forgotten it, only now did he realize the significance of it, now that he had all the information.
“I always liked your daddy, Miss LeBeau. It was a terrible shame what happened to him. If I could have stopped it, I would have. But…”
Amie’s steely resolve had melted then, and her eyes filled with angry tears.
“Don’t make the same mistakes he did, Amie. Let us handle the investigation. I want to find out what’s going on, just the same as you do. Trust me, this will all be over soon. I promise. But you keep your nose out of it, y’hear? I don’t want to be burying another LeBeau in my lifetime.”
Later that summer, when Oscar had approached Amie with the bogus story about the rogue gator being responsible for the deaths of thirteen children and two adults, she put up enough resistance to let him know that she knew that the story was bullshit, but in the end, she wrote the story anyway, because of the fear that had been planted that day. It was enough, in fact to make Amie leave Bayou Bonhomme for nearly ten years. The story goes that she only came back to take care of her sick mother, but Oscar had heard rumours about some hushed up scandal involving her and the unhappily married editor of a well-known major newspaper. Why else would anyone come back to Bayou Bonhomme after escaping?
He’d been asking himself the same question, of course. Here he was, sitting safely in a hotel room far away from Bayou Bonhomme, and the only thing he could think about was going back. He was afraid, sure, but he was more angry than afraid.
It was time to start making plans. It was time to stop hiding and reach out. It was time to find out who he could trust.
He picked up his cell phone and dialled the number for his deputy, Marla Bergeron.