Bent Fork Trembled

A lot of people have heard tell of the Goatman. Up around Pope Lick Crick, there were stories about a half man half goat who was a traumatized circus freak who took refuge under a trestle and jumped out at cars with an axe. The Poke Lick Monster mostly just encourages young fools to hang around an old bridge and young slow fools to get hit by freight trains.

There is the Goatman of Lake Worth who as far as I can recall is some kind of tire-throwing environmentalist. And Prince George’s County has a creature allegedly caused by a bizarre science experiment who stalks lovers’ lanes and kills puppies. This goat creature has a human head on a very hairy body so in my books that could just be a creep.

Then there is the righteous vengeance of the Alston County Goatman but that is a story for another time. No, this is the story of Lonnie, the goat boy of Bent Fork.

Lonnie was a normal baby, six pounds and nine ounce, silky auburn curls, dimples, and horizontal slits for pupils. He made the news and the medical journals. Lonnie was a big deal then a curiosity and then a baby girl over in San Chaquito was born with horns and Lonnie dropped off the media cycle.

For a while the families of Bent Fork avoided the Parkers. There were whispers at the Piggly Wiggly and sneers at Mount Carmel Baptist. The kids were worse than the parents. Mild mannered and studious, Lonnie learned to wear dark glasses and take a beating.

Eventually Bent Fork got used to goat boy. He’s was no one’s close friend, no one’s sweetheart but everyone had to admit the boy was dependable and very helpful. By the time Lonnie got corrective contacts and started studying political science at Southern the town thought Lonnie would make a name for himself one day.

Bent Fork forgot, but Lonnie never did. Lonnie was an Eagle Scout and delivered hot meals to the elderly. He never forgot a punch. Lonnie always raked the neighbors’ leaves and organize a Clean the Parks day. But he never forgot a slight. Lonnie joined the police force after undergraduate school and organized a toy drive. When the disappearances started Lonnie worked extra shifts to make sure the school children made it home safely. Bent Fork forgot Lonnie all together. Families bought guns and locks. Mayor Tutrell established a curfew. Calls were made on any strange faces in town. Posters stapled to trees faded. Bent Fork trembled. Bent Fork forgot goat boys grow into Goatmen.

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