It was Saturday. I was sitting at my desk, trying to find the perfect onomatopoeia for a hernia. I had narrowed it down to Scrusshh and zzlllrchh when Patrick moseyed into my office. He slammed a stack of papers onto my desk, and staring me in the eye, said, “Have you ever heard of the Chupacabra.”
“Urban legend.” I immediately said. “There is no Chupacabra.”
Ignoring me, he continued, “Y’know. Bear-like creature, sucks goats.”
“No. Chupacabra literally translates to ‘it sucks goats.’”
His story checked out.
“What about it?”
“Well, it’s been terrorizing Mexico’s goats for almost twenty years. And I want you to catch it, stuff it, reanimate P.T. Barnum, sell it to him, de-animate P.T. Barnum, and take back the carcass.”
“You mean Barnum’s carcass or the chupacabra’s?”
“Both if possible.”
“Patrick,” I said, “You know I love nothing more than doing some insane task because someone dramatically bursts into my office,” Patrick nodded, “but this one can’t be done.”
“Why? You don’t think the chupacabra exists?”
“No, it totally does. Or did. I was in Guadalajara when they caught him. Turns out it was just a homeless guy who really hated goats. Or really liked goats. It’s a matter of perspective really.”
“Can you score us an interview?”
“He was executed.”
“You think someone would’ve reported that.”
“All evidence of the event was destroyed. Everyone present took a vow of secrecy…. Shit.”
Patrick and I stared each other down. “Now we’re even for that Masonry thing.” He said. I agreed, reluctantly. I had been saving that one for a rainy day.
“Well, since we can’t get the real chupacabra, and I can’t think of anything else right now, it looks like you’re going to Mexico.”
“I’ll pack my water.”
Twelve hours later I was in Puerto Vallarta, because that seemed about as good a place as any for my purposes. Also, someone had reported seeing a chupacabra in the area. I went to the outskirts of town, where I was supposed to meet a chupacabra expert. I saw him sitting by an elaborately painted van.
“Hola,” I said, “Estoy buscando por el experto de las chupacabras.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, slowly, “No speak Spanish.”
“That’s okay, neither do I.”
In retrospect, I should have known that the man wearing the oversized sombrero and rainbow poncho was a tourist. He was also reading the Las Vegas Herald.
His name was Dominick Winthrop. He was a burly man of about fifty with the bushiest beard south of Hobotown. He was a professor of cryptozoology at Louisiana State University and he was in Mexico following the same report I was. I realized that he was speaking, and I had tuned out what he was saying several minutes prior, my natural instinct of ignoring useless background noise coming back to bite me. I struggled to focus.
“And that’s about it, really.” He said. “LSU pays me to research and track down mythical creatures.”
“But if you catch it, it’s no longer mythical, and you would be honor-bound by the laws of the jungle to release it as wrongful prey.”
He sighed, “It is our curse.”
We contemplated the futility of it all before forging ahead into the rainforest. There was a little tourist retreat that housed a petting zoo, containing sheep, chickens, pigs, and goats.
According to witnesses, the chupacabra had been seen feasting on one of these goats just two nights ago. The offal had been removed by the time we got there, and it looked like a dead end. Still, we decided to ask around.
It was late afternoon by the time we had interrogated all the hotel’s occupants. We weren’t able to shake any information out of them, and were about to give up and go home when we happened upon a man waiting outside. I immediately drew my pistol. Pointing it at him, I shouted, “Why are you trying to flee the scene.”
“What?” the man replied, his eyes fixed on the gun.
I cocked the gun.
“Don’t play dumb with me!”
I uncocked the gun. Then cocked it again. For effect.
“What are you doing out here!”
“He’s the chupacabra!” Dominick shouted, lunging at the man. The two of them proceeded to beat the ever-loving shit out of each other, leaving me with little to do.
Five minutes later, they showed no signs of slowing down. “Knock it off, or I’ll get the hose!” I said, hoping they were as afraid of water as my aunt’s cats. When that didn’t seem to work, I went to the side of the building to find a hose. On the way there, something caught my eye in the petting zoo. A large brown creature was crawling around the edge of the fence. I ran over there, as fast as my legs would carry me.
As I neared the mass of brown fur, I made a horrible discovery. What stood before me was a man, his head overgrown with unkempt brown hair, his body clad in a bear mascot costume. He looked angry, scared, and confused but most of all, he looked wasted.
“Do you know what your name is?” I asked.
“Party! Wooo!” he replied.
“Do you know where you came from?”
“Happy Cinco De Mayo!” he shouted, raising his arms to the sky.
“It’s November,” I said, more to myself than to him. He had been partying for six months straight, and it had destroyed him. The human body could only withstand so much. If only someone had noticed in July, mid-August even, they might have been able to save him. He would be found eventually, and his captors would have no mercy. There was only one thing I could do to help him.
I rubbed my hand across his matted hair, and we watched the sun set behind the trees. “Somewhere,” I said, “Somewhere over that hill is a big party, just for you.”
“Party?” He asked, pleased with the idea.
“That’s right. And we’re going to go there. It’ll be our party. It’ll belong to just you and me and nobody else. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“And if you look real hard, you can see it out there in the distance. Way beyond those trees. Are you looking?”
“Party.” He agreed.
I took a step behind him, drew my pistol, and did the only thing I could.
Twenty four hours later I walked into the darkness of my office. The lamp next to the desk turned on, illuminating Patrick’s face. “It was only a matter of time before I found you.” He said.
“Fuck!” he said, “I’m in the wrong office.” He stood and made his way to the door. As he was leaving he turned to me and said, “By the way, what did you do in Mexico?”
“A kindness.” I said, and shed a single tear.