I know it’s a bit late for Christmas stories but I’ve got one that is just too hairy to keep under wraps. It would be more fitting for halloween, but one can’t always pick the season for reports on creepy, crawly, multi-legged creatures which might appear on a darkened sidewalk.
The event of which I write took place in the King William area of San Antonio two nights prior to Christmas Eve. The precise spot would be on the Alamo Street sidewalk, at the intersection of Alamo and Wickes streets, at about 11 o’clock at night.
This is an area directly in front of the restaurant and saloon known as Casbeers at the Church, a multi-level eatery and live music venue which is actually housed in a former Methodist Church building which is almost a hundred years old.
Cherubs and angels
Casbeers at the Church presents live music in both its ground floor restaurant area, as well as an upstairs former church sanctuary which is almost daunting in its stained glass and heavily carpeted interior. Like the Alamo chapel, where visitors are more apt to whisper than talk in normal tones, the Casbeers patrons are probably more attentive, if not a wee bit subdued, than what one could expect at your average shit-kicker roadhouse or green hair rock joint. With cherubs and angels peering down from their stained-glass perches, any proclivity for hooting, hollering, and outhouse cussin’ is just naturally suppressed by the reverence of the surroundings. And the great acoustics enjoyed by musicians who play the sanctuary concert room are enhanced by the attentiveness of most audiences.
If there is a “Presence” to be felt in the live music sanctuary, it has always been that of a happy spirit who probably digs pure harmonies and slick guitar licks as much as us earthly counterparts who hang around the joint, listening to the music and scarfing down “truck stop enchiladas” and Kinky burgers.
Brown wooly object
Now let it be known that I have never been one to put much stock in “haints and haunts,” but you’ve got to cut me a little slack as I recall my disturbing and (literally) hair-raising experience on that darkened sidewalk in front of Casbeers. I was leaving the place with spouse Sharon, who was dutifully trailing along with a sack full of pecan pies she had purchased from the Casbeers kitchen, when the brown, wooly object appeared on the sidewalk blocking my path.
Hairs or something that might have been slender tentacles protruded from the weird-looking mass which seemed to challenge our progress toward my truck, and I couldn’t help but wonder if something not of this world might be materializing to give me some sort of lesson in spirituality. . Maybe Fred Eaglesmith’s lyrics did something to piss off the saints. I wasn’ sure.
At this point, I believe I warned the spouse to stay back with her pies as I studied the critter hovering a few short feet from the toes of my boots.
Could it be a giant bat? I wondered, recalling some of these creepy-looking winged mammals which I used to watch pouring out of the Devil’s Sinkhole up in Edwards County. But the bat possibility was ruled out when I could see no wings.
There were curly brown strands poking out in every direction. And I leaped high over the sidewalk when I spotted what I was sure was movement. Maybe the “thing” had small clawed feet and possibly a bobbed tail which was hard to see. And teeth. There has to be an evil set of pointy teeth down there somewhere.
While I had directed the spouse to keep back with her pies, an order I deemed necessary to insure her bodily safety, Sharon proceeded to take matters into her own hands. Showing little respect for the “wooly booger” hovering down there on the sidewalk, and displaying a total disregard for her own safety, she kicked at the mass, believing in her Christmas spirit-possessed mind that the brown blob was a cluster of ribbon from someone’s holiday gift basket.
It was no ball of Christmas ribbon. I knew that much.
As I saw the creature move, I then became convinced that we were being challenged by a gargantuan brown tarantula which probably had green venom dripping from its waiting fangs.
Cedar chopper reaction
So I did what any cedar chopper or shit-kicker redneck faced with the same set of circumstances would do.
I stomped the damned thing hard with my right boot heel, grinding and pulverizing it into the cement. Then, as I leaped high for a follow-up stomp with my left boot, I saw the distraught gent charging out of Casbeers and onto the sidewalk, his eyes wide as banjos and his arms flailing like windmill blades.
“Have you seen anything on the sidewalk?” he cried.
“What?” I implored.
“My wife’s add-on,” he said.
“Yes,” he stammered. “Her add-on hair piece. She thinks she lost it just as we were entering Casbeers.”
Horrified, I shied away from the hairy brown mess which I had just stomped mercilessly into the sidewalk. The wooly booger was moving. I will swear to it.
Pointing to the ugly pelt, I asked with quavering voice: “Is that your wife’s add-on?”
A bald spot covering
“That’s it,” the guy cried happily, scooping what was left of the mini-wig from the sidewalk. “I ought to put it up to cover my bald spot and keep my head warm, but I will take it in to my wife. I want to thank you folks for finding it.”
At this point, I looked around for my missing spouse.
She had taken her pies and scampered off to hide in the cab of the truck. I then managed to slink off in like fashion.
All of which goes to show one thing for certain.
You never know what you might find on a San Antonio sidewalk at night. And you can’t kill everything you stomp on, no matter how hard you might try. Especially not if it’s already dead but still managing to move. And even armed with the facts as I know them today, I’m still grateful that the damned thing didn’t jump up and bite me.
That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking with it.