“Thibodoux, don’t be thinkin’ ’bout prowlin’ that swamp alone, boy. Dat Rougarou gonna have yo’ ass.”
“Horsepiss, LeBlu,” Thibodoux grinned through sparse, yellow teeth. “Got ‘dis shotgun and my big ol’ knife…and they ain’t no damned Rougarou monster no way. Gimme ‘nother pull on dat bottle.” Big, fat, with about a year’s hair left, Thibodoux was the toughest dude in the swamp.
LeBlu handed over the rum. Thibodoux drained the last slug and tossed the bottle in Bayou Frosaun. They watched it gradually fill with water and sink. “Dat damned monster gonna do the same for you, Thibodoux,” LeBlu tossed the bow line into Thibidoux’s johnboat.
“Be dark soon,” Thibodoux looked at the western sky. “Gonna run ever damned trap Consolidated set along ‘dis whole line. Outsiders don’t need none a’ our fish. Damn man, you comin’?”
Hands raised, LeBlu stepped back from the dock. In a half hour, Thibodoux had filled the bottom of his little boat with stolen speckled trout. Through the inky darkness, he poled his way along the shallow slew, using the Consolidated trap-cable as a roadmap. “Rougarou monster my ass, LeBlu,” he said idly. Two more caches and he’d head back in.
The last trap was stuck on a submerged log against a giant cypress tree. He wrestled to pull it clear, his fat belly wedged against the hull of the little boat. Then, Great God, it had him! The monster caught his shirttail and dragged him in Pitch darkness against the Cypress. He felt the claws digging into his flesh. “Rougarou, Goddamn…help, Rougarou!” he shrieked into the emptiness.
He couldn’t reach the shotgun, but the toughest dude along Bayou Frosaun would cut this monster all to hell. He came out with the big knife and slashed the monster frantically. But it had him…the choking strength of inhuman arms…suffocating.
Then the monster tore open his belly, reached into his guts. The pain was horrible…a final scream…then darkness.
“LeBlu?” the sheriff asked. “Why the hell you let Thibodoux come outcheer alone?” He leaned out of the boat to tug at Thibodoux’s body, impaled on a stub of broken limb sticking straight out a cypress tree. “See how his guts ripped out, man.”
“I ain’t the boss a’ him, Mister Sheriff. I tol’ him. Damned Rougagou got him sure as hell.”
“Rougarouu,” the sheriff scoffed. “Looka here man. Thibodoux, he got tangled in this ol’ Cypress. Then he stabbed at the tree and gutted himself…fell into ‘dis stub…bled to death. Damn shame he didn’t steal no fish.”
LeBlu and the sheriff dragged Thibodoux into the launch and began poling back up the bayou. Neither could see the yellow, evil eyes peering through the swamp brush. The monster stood quietly, waiting for the boat to move out of earshot. Then he’d scrub off Thibodoux’s blood, finish the speckled trout, patch the knife-cut on his arm. Damn fool shoulda never come into his domain after dark…especially alone.
©2012 Gary Clifton
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has short fiction pieces published of pending on about forty online sites. Clifton has been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, and often misunderstood and is now out to pasture on a dusty north Texas ranch. He has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.