Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 27th, 2006
In Part One, Kent Ballard of Indiana reveals he thinks he saw a "Bigfoot" on the road. Slowly he comes out to the Bigfoot community about his sighting. But now he’s received an anonymous letter left in his mailbox, telling him it was all a joke pulled on him. What does he do next? Kent gets his gun, thinks through his options, and therein is the rest of the story.
Hoaxes come in many sizes and shapes. Men inside of fur suits might end up killed by gun-toting outsdoorsmen, if they don’t watch out.
by Kent Ballard
I called this man and simply asked him if the letter was true. It had pointed him out as the spotter who was hiding in the weeds with the hoaxer that night. He took a long deep breath and said, yes, it was true–and that if I wanted him to he would drive to my house and let me slug him right in the mouth. He would make no effort to defend himself. He said he deserved that, and had felt rotten for months for taking part in that escapade.
When I asked him how he had gotten involved, he said the hoaxer simply let on like it would be a good joke to pull. The man agreed that it would be funny and the hoaxer had assured him they would tell me the next day, letting me in on the joke. To his horror, weeks later the man discovered that I had not been told, had not been let in on the joke, and that this was something nearly pathological about "Mr. Know-It-All"…that it had not been a joke at all, but a one-man vendetta against me. By then he was afraid to tell me. He’d seen me show up that night with the Smith & Wesson and…well…didn’t know how safe it was to just drive over and tell me himself. He told me every detail, from whom the costume had been borrowed, the radio communication, the precise timing, the observations of my comings and goings, all of it. He said after a while it became evident to him that the hoaxer was no mere practical joker, but a disturbed and vicious man with serious issues. He quit going to the little community restaurant after having had words with the hoaxer on another subject, and the sum total of it all left them parting as enemies.
Well. How about that?
I let the word get out in the community that I finally knew the truth. By this time many of our friends had quit going to the small restaurant themselves as the hoaxer had ticked each of them off in one way or another. It seemed as if everyone was holding their breath to see what my reaction would be. This is a deeply rural area. Life is not the same here as in a more civilized setting. Bad things can happen to people, especially at night or when they’re all alone. There can be accidents, unexplained fires, all sorts of nasty things. To most folks, it wasn’t a question of if I would retaliate, it was merely one of when and how.
Within that week I got an email from the hoaxer’s wife. She glossed over the entire matter and said they were going to let me in on it and that no harm was meant. And it was sickeningly obvious that she had not composed the email, but had written it with him hanging over her shoulder.
I used to know a very scary man. When something would anger him, he did not react like most people. He didn’t get hot. He got cold–very, very cold. Nobody ever crossed that guy twice, and those who had made the mistake of doing it once had bad things happen to them. I decided to play it that way. I wrote back a very cold message saying that everything they had written was a lie, and never to lie to me again. It would not be wise to make a bad situation worse.
Then frantic emails followed. We only live about a mile and a half apart, yet they would not come here, not even call on the phone. I never answered any more emails from them. It was merely a coincidence, but at that time I had just bought a Benelli Nova, a military-police shotgun capable of holding extra rounds and super-Magnum shells. So I took it around to some neighbors’ houses and showed it off, as everyone out here owns weapons anyway and most men are interested in them. Just a little visit to show off my new toy and the folks kindly let me brag about it, admitting it was one hell of a gun.
Word came back of extra lights going up around the small restaurant, and of that family keeping close to home at night. They seemed a bit jittery to customers.
I was told by reliable folks that the hoaxer was awaiting with dread my retaliation. And God knows he deserved some. It is difficult to write in any manner which you would understand the harm and pain he caused me, and through me to my wife. But as time went by I realized that I was already driving him mad by doing absolutely nothing at all, and the tiny community came down universally on my side. He lost business over that. I never lifted a finger against him or his property. Even years later people who talked to him assured me that he was still waiting for some horror that would never come, at least not from me.
I have no intention of literally throwing myself in jail by doing something stupid. In the end, I found out that I actually had more friends than I ever thought, and people have spread the word about the hoaxer without my help at all. I took the high road, and it paid off handsomely. And not only in friendships, but in new contacts and new reports. Because during all of that time I genuinely believed I had nearly stopped to speak to a Bigfoot, I had gotten deeply into this odd hobby and became hooked. I was too busy researching, talking to frightened families, hiking in various forests, and doing my best to calm scared people down to pay any more attention to this loser.
Karma may be involved here. By being so frightened myself, then learning that we are actually dealing with a creature that will go far out if its way to avoid actually harming a human, I have the ability to talk to people and understand their fear, and to make them understand mine, and to help them come to the same realization that I have–Bigfoot represents no overt threat. You’d have to go out of your way to make one harm you. Sure, they’ll scare you senseless. That’s their stock in trade. But they don’t hurt people who don’t hurt them. Most often, they don’t hurt people who do hurt them, or try to.
Through an email group list, linked to the conference I attended, I wrote the members there and told the whole story of being hoaxed. I explained that I was telling the truth as I knew it, but that "truth" was entirely wrong. I asked them to forgive me, even though it wasn’t my fault, and asked the serious researchers to erase any videotapes they might have of me nervously babbling my odd tale at that meeting. Despite my best thoughts and intentions, there was not one word of truth in the whole talk I gave. I wrote that, sent it, and held my breath waiting for the firestorm that would no doubt land in my lap. To their credit, they had no hard feelings towards me, thanked me for telling them the story and updating it, and a handful even complimented me on the guts they knew it took to write that.
This entire affair turned out very strangely. I have never made any major discoveries or advancements in this field. I do my best to keep upwith what’s going on, where the activity is, and all that, but it just could be that in the end it will be the people themselves that will get my best efforts. Not a university, not a movie deal, not three-quarters of CBS’ "60 Minutes"–but just the people.
There are so many who are frightened deeply, so many who have had their world tuned upside down, so many whose understanding of reality has been shattered that the sheer volume of emotion is staggering. If we are an army, fighting our way through to the even
tual discovery of the truth behind these beings, then consider me a medic. When you’re afraid to sleep alone at night, or turn the light out, or moan every time your dog barks, you need me or some of the others who are like me. And I’m happy to do it. I can see the results after at time, and understand that I am making headway and helping the cause.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.