I was privileged to receive an early draft of Adam Howe’s Damn Dirty Apes, a novella included in his anthology Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet. Moreover, I was honored to write a blurb for it.
Despite the humor (there are many laugh-out-loud moments in Damn Dirty Apes), the story has a core of realism, especially in reference to the skunk ape that figures prominently in the narrative. As part of his research into skunk apes, Adam reached out to an organization called S.P.N.A.S.A.: The Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. As it turns out, SPNASA found Adam’s literary efforts insulting, and sent him a letter threatening legal action. It’s my understanding that the matter has since been cleared up, but it proves that there are plenty of people out there who take the legend of the skunk ape very seriously.
A Google search on skunk apes brought up a Wikipedia entry, plus some other websites with varying degrees of credibility, but I found my curiosity still piqued. After all, the skunk ape lives almost literally in my own backyard here in Florida.
So I went out to do some of my own investigating. My neck of the (back)woods is full of nature trails, swampy areas, and pine forest that few people bother to explore, so that’s where I started. To be honest, I didn’t take it terribly seriously, and even brought my little boy along with me to “hunt the skunk ape.” He thought it terrific fun at first, but the walking and waiting and, most importantly, staying quiet was difficult for him, so after an hour or so of farting around and taking pictures, we called it quits.
It was only a few nights later, when I casually flicked through the photos on my phone, that I saw this:
I’ve circled the relevant section of the picture.
It’s chilling to think how close this thing got, not just to me, but my son as well. Believe me, I’ll definitely keep my little boy at home on any future skunk ape hunts. It’s only because we were downwind that I didn’t smell it, I suspect.
The chase is on, though. I know it’s out there. I just have to go find it.