Billy Hiller saw the Skunk Ape on State Road 520 a few years ago. SR 520 had a bad reputation in those days. It cut through forest and swamp and midnight fog. There were no streetlights. There were a lot of accidents.
He was driving through a wooded stretch when he saw a large man standing idle at a bend. Billy found it odd to see a man standing alone on a highway in the woods at three in the morning. He stepped on the gas because he was vulnerable. His Jeep Wrangler was a soft-top.
As he approached he saw that the man was covered from head to toe in thick auburn fur. Turns out Billy was passing no wacky bum. This was a Bigfoot, bona fide.
The Bigfoot was at least seven feet tall and thick of limb and skull. It was standing motionless, as though caught in a reverie by the thick fog rolling out of the flatwoods. When the headlights flashed, Bigfoot looked right at Billy.
It had cream-colored hair on its face. Two yellow canines protruded from its gaping jaw. Bigfoot stepped into the road in the Jeep’s wake. It stood there, bathed in the red glow of the taillights, watching Billy get away.
Bigfoots in Florida are called Skunk Apes because they stink. They’re also smaller than their northern cousins, topping off at just over 7 feet. Photographs on the Internet matched Billy’s description. Gargantuan man-apes with white facial hair.
Further research showed that Skunk Ape sightings were most prevalent in Brevard County, which is where Billy had sighted it. SR 520 was a hotspot. One man claimed he had pulled over to take a piss and a Skunk Ape had chased him back to his car.
I wanted to see the Skunk Ape too. We decided to lure one out of the woods along SR 520. Several sources said that Skunk Apes tend to pick garbage. They thrive on a diet of legumes and fruit and dog food.
We raided my dad’s kitchen in the middle of the night. Grabbed a party bowl and filled it with apples and lima beans and dog food. Mixed it all together and jumped in my car.
It was after 2 am and SR 520 was desolate. When we came to a sufficiently creepy spot I stopped the car in the middle of the road. Billy scooped up some of the Skunk Ape food and tossed it out the window. Then I drove another fifty feet and stopped again. Billy tossed more food out the window. We did this for three miles, until the party bowl was empty.
I turned the car around and drove eastbound. Billy and I debated about what to do when we found the Skunk Ape. I figured I’d run it over to prove that they exist. Billy just wanted to take pictures of it.
We drove past all of our food lures and found no Skunk Apes. I turned around and headed west and then east again and saw nothing. And again I drove west and then east and then nothing.
This went on for a couple of hours. Back and forth and back and forth and no Skunk Apes. All we ever saw was one little doe standing motionless on the shoulder. We went home defeated.
The next morning, my dad’s girlfriend Julie woke me up. She was wide-eyed and jittery and stammering. Julie said she wanted to show me something and led me to the driveway.
The passenger-side of my car was covered in our dried Skunk Ape food. A big swath of lumpy paste all over the door. It looked like vomit. Julie demanded that I admit to driving drunk.
I told her that we’d been driving along SR 520 perfectly sober. Julie noted that I’d come into the house very early in the morning. I said, yes, Billy and I were out late. She asked why we’d returned so late.
I said that Billy and I had made a concoction of apples and lima beans and dog food to attract the Skunk Ape. Then we drove out to SR 520 and dropped the food-lures all over the road to entice one or more of them out of the woods. Hence the mess on my door.
I admitted that we were unsuccessful. I promised that we would try again soon. Julie didn’t say anything for a long time. She just stared at me, blinking.
Julie said she’d never heard of the Skunk Ape. And that I’d probably succeeded in luring a bunch of deer and raccoons and opossums to the road. I’d probably caused an animal holocaust. From then on Julie looked at me like I was the Elephant Man.
Many years later Billy said that he’d just been fucking with me. He never saw any Skunk Ape.