An Englishman in Bear Creek
by J M F Casey, 3.24am November 10th 2021

As soon as I landed in Bear Creek, I felt alienated. Like most rural Englishmen, I was totally unaware of other cultures as propagated by the development of ‘Moving Image’ and ‘Cyberspace’, all I had gleaned of the 'New World' was from a few pages of description at the end of a short story by D. H. Lawrence. I therefore adopted the coping strategy of absolute affirmation, that is of responding positively to every offer or suggestion. The first week I spent blind drunk, pepped up and wacked out, finding myself in a different bed each morning, with a different drool encrusted face snoring beside me. By around the tenth day I had gained sufficient tolerance to remain primarily lucid, providing I kept clear of the opioid addled trailer park and the cocaine blizzards of the haut monde. However, my relative sobriety did little to prevent my vulnerability, possessing as I did the air of one out-of-place and sticking to my rigorous policy of yay-saying. All kinds of low characters were drawn to me. I was the human toy of the Girth Mothers Motorcycle Club, I was the scapegoat of Jesus “The Marksman” Apocalyptical Church, I was at the base of many a pyramid scheme, I was a sub, a dupe, a fall guy, a debtor, but no one did me over quite so bad as that wizened little huckster and her matchbox. She weighed me up, then offered it to me, knowing I couldn’t refuse. This is how I came into possession of the larvae. When it was very tiny it was easy to look after, a few crumbs of fried chicken batter seemed to keep it quite content and for most of the day I could leave it to wriggle in the box. However, it grew quickly, graduating from matchbox to takeaway carton, carton to fruit crate, until eventually I was compelled to procure it a shopping cart. I padded it out with a thrift store duvet and rolled the corpulent little fellow from bar to bar. Now that I was effectively a parent, my promiscuous lifestyle had to be reined in somewhat, so I rented a room at the Grizzly Motel, and deposited the larvae there in its makeshift cot. At first, I was happy to live a more stable life, tending to the infant, relaxing on the bed, and reading the obscene, but rather imaginative, commentary written in the margin of the Gideons Bible. Then the larvae grew that fearsome sting from its end. It began to clang and scrape the point against the metal bars of the cart and drive me half mad, the kind of sound that slices through the brain like a sheet of glass. It was with great joy when I figured out that it was a carnivorous diet that it desired, or rather cadaverous, for as long as I flung it plenty of roadkill the larvae would stop its infernal grinding. But, oh God, it has grown large, and most unnervingly it has sprouted slithering tentacles from its flanks, unwinding from the cage, grasping at things. Since awakening with its coils around my neck, I have rented the room next door to evade its touch, but my sense of responsibility prevents me from leaving altogether. It keeps me up by rattling the doors and the fixtures, those dripping, twisting limbs reaching out, for what I know not. Now here I lie, listening, cursing the day I ever came to Bear Creek.