about a year or so later, i was living with my then-girlfriend, now best friend, dani, as well as my dogs and my rabbit (the kids) and pretty much obsessed with the latest offering in dc comics' factoid book series, the big book of the unexplained. editors andy helfer and jim higgins were doing a kick-ass job on these books, all of them great reads and, to me anyway, truly fascinating. i had loved the big book of urban legends, the big book of conspiracies, death, hoaxes, scandals, but my favorite by far was doug moench's foray into the unknown. (i'll be listing a bunch of websites and books on the weird and paranormal in an upcoming blog, but if you're reading this, then read that. it's full of great tales and great information and it felt as if mr. moench probably could've easily penned a sequel. or two!)
i had, of course, always been drawn to stories of bigfoot and the loch ness monster, and through my friendship with inking legend terry austin, had learned everything there was to know about the mothman and the events surrounding that flap. but the big book opened up so many new doors to me in the shadowy realm of the bizarre and i was consumed to learn all i could about the kelly goblins, the flatwoods creature, and most importantly, the chupacabras. (i even passed that particular curiosity onto impulse in jla: world without grown-ups. check it out!)
anyway, i was on about the big book for weeks and i'm sure dani was sick of it (but was too kind to say so) by the time her mother came to visit from wisconsin. we had gone out to dinner and were back home, sitting by the fire with glasses of wine and chatting, when i started to tell barbara about my newly revived interest in the unexplained and especially the cryptozoological. i related to her my tale of the floating thing i saw in the field the year or so earlier, and she countered that story with one of her own...
she said that it had been some 4 or 5 years before, that she was driving home from a long weekend conference or something on some windy back roads in wisconsin. it was very late and she was a bit miffed because her then boyfriend, a quasi-loser named chuck, had said that he'd drive back but was now passed out in the passenger seat and she, exhausted herself, had been left with the driving chores.
she made it a point to repeat; she was very tired.
she said that she was focussed on nothing but the headlights on the road, when she spotted a pale shape at the side of the highway ahead. as she came closer the shape began to cross the road in front of her and she slowed down, trying to make out what it actually was. she said that as she got closer, her mind was trying hard to identify what she was seeing, to make some kind of sense of it, but it just wasn't coming together. it was short, maybe 2 and a half to 3 feet tall, and it looked like a cross between a chicken and a monkey--chicken legs and a monkey's upper body. she said that, as the creature was caught in her headlights, it turned to look at the slowing car, and that, where most animals have a look in their eyes of fear or disorientation when confronted by a vehicle, this creature's eyes conveyed a different message, a sentience and a knowledge that it had been caught and that it was not supposed to be seen.
she said that she had brought the car almost to a complete stop, just inching along slowly by the time the creature turned away and bounded off into the darkness. barb continued on, a bit spooked. chuck never woke up.
when barb described the creature to us, dani and i exchanged glances, but didn't interrupt. but when the story was done, dani told me to go get the book and show her the picture. i flipped the book open to the story of the chupacabras and when i put it in front of her, barb simply pointed to and announced rather plainly, "that's it. that's the thing i saw."
a chupacabras. in wisconsin. this would've been around 1993-94. i've checked and can't find any other reports (but then, barbara never reported hers...), but there was a long series of cattle mutilations in that area...
barb went on to offer her theory, one i'd heard before but, that it may very well be that sleepy state of mind that makes it possible for us to see things we wouldn't otherwise see. that maybe they're there all around us all the time, invisible to us on this plane, but that our tired minds are able to see past what we're supposed to see. she was tired when she saw her chupacabra. i was tired when i saw that thing float over my jeep.