Harbor Man

Harbor People’s relationship with Bigfoot is a complicated one because they don’t talk about it. There is a small counterculture presence that’s become wrapped up in the mythos and lore surrounding the Pacific Northwest, but this is mainly kept alive by outsiders who only visit a few times a year to hold small conventions and spend a couple of days in the woods. To Harbor People, these are just crazed fanatics or thrill-seeking hipsters. The actual locals skim past and put little thought to the existence of Bigfoot even though it hangs like a constant unspoken presence throughout the county’s history. It’s always there, like an apparition in the evergreens, and it has been since the Quinault Indians first stepped foot in the forests.

Harry, for the most part, is a typical Harbor Man; he graduated from high school in the early ‘90s, part of the generation that was shoved into a newly collapsed economy and poor job market despite being raised with the constant promise of a career in the timber industry. He has spent his life moving from job to job and occasionally working under the table in order to pay his bills.

He is a beast of a man who stands 6’5” with forearms so large that even as an adult, I cannot fit both my hands around them, and his rust-colored beard hides only a fraction of the sun-worn freckles that work their way up his face and into the crevices of his smile lines. His daily uniform consists of a thrift-store flannel, khaki Carhartts that mask the color of dirt, scuffed Georgia Boot Romeos that are beyond broken in, and a greasy ball cap that he swears is to protect society from the blinding white of his balding head. Rather than cologne, he wears cigarette smoke and Irish Spring soap.

In 2011, my parents moved us back to Grays Harbor, where I lived for eight years until I grew old enough to leave both the county and my family behind. I spent my teenage years there as a particularly moody recluse with only a few close friends, and it took until I was 16 before I had a conversation with Harry that consisted of more than just small talk.

He was staying at my house while my parents were away for the week. On his last night there, I ventured out of my room and plopped myself in the living room while he was watching a Travel Channel show called “Mysteries at the Museum.” This eventually spurred a conversation that started with chupacabras, moved on to cattle mutilation, and ended with Bigfoot.