Howard Stern’s Bigfoot Catastrophe: My insane and unimaginable one month run on the Howard Stern Show
HOWARD STERN’S BIGFOOT CATASTROPHE
Age at the time: 32
A few years ago, Howard Stern, the outspoken shock-jock and widely heralded, “King of all media,” who now broadcasts over the airwaves of outer space, had himself a little contest. The contest had but one rule, and only one rule: to find the most fucked up, most outrageous, most abominable human being in this great country of ours and crown this person with that very title: “King of all fucked-up human beings.” Then, of course, give that certain individual a few thousand dollars for doing nothing more than acting retarded.
The winner of this once in a lifetime, one of a kind contest, was more of a what than a who. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him on the radio because it was stupefying. This man, coming over my airwaves, talked in the deepest and raspiest of voices and literally ended every sentence he spoke with the words, “it is.” For example: “I’m going to the store to get milk, it is.” Or, “I’m watching TV and drinking beer, it is.”
After parading around the radio-studio what sounded to me like a freight-train of brain-dead gorillas, Howard Stern, and his staff finally pronounced Mark “Bigfoot” Shaw the winner of the cash-prize and proud newest member of their ‘Wack Pack,’ which is nothing more than a hall of fame for morons.
What poor “Bigfoot” didn’t know was what winning a contest like this was about to do to him. Mark Shaw, came to New York City that day all the way from a small town on the Canadian border in Vermont. This friend of his literally dumped him in his truck one day, drove nine hours to NYC, plopped him in a chair in front of Howard Stern and boom, within minutes a legend was born.
To picture Bigfoot, visualize Charles Manson, colliding with a truckload of human-growth-hormone. He is a big man, with a huge head, and size 15 triple E shoes to boot, hence the name. To me though, the guy was pure radio gold.
A bunch of years have passed now since Bigfoot’s incredible debut on the Howard Stern Show. Unfortunately, his success on the show has been matched only by the daily agony of his life. By late February of 2008, according to the updated reports over the news-broadcasts, Bigfoot, was all but near the end, homeless, shunned by an entire community and coming to grips with just ending it all.
I, on the other hand, was doing great. I’d been very busy by day sitting in front of the computer, penning humor, and streaming Howard Stern off the internet continuously. Each day at the exact same time, which was 10:00 am, a news reporter named, Steve Langford, would come into the studio and plead with the radio world, “Can anybody help Bigfoot? Is anybody out there even listening to us? Can anyone do anything to save this man?”
The news was that Bigfoot was up in northern Vermont, sleeping out in the cold, unable to fend for himself and so depressed that he was trying to kill himself on a weekly basis and never able to succeed. Every morning Steve Langford’s news reports would grow worse and more dire.
Then, one day, while I was sitting at my computer right about the usual time, it all of a sudden hit me. Why couldn’t I be the one to help Bigfoot? I mean, shit, hanging out with crazy people was what I did.
So, I made up my mind to work up the nerve and do something about Bigfoot. Now that I’d gotten the idea in my head that I should be the one to help save him, there was no turning back. Like many, I have pure obsessive-compulsive thinking.
Then, a few mornings later, without even listening to the radio, I just decided to call.
I picked up the phone and dialed the Howard Stern news department and prepared to leave a message. I said, “Hi, my name is Patrick McFadden, and I’d like to help Bigfoot. I’ve spoken to my wife and she’s agreed that I can drive up to Vermont from New Jersey, pick him up and then give him a place to stay at our house until he gets back on his feet.” After that, I hung up.
I didn’t even realize what I’d just said. For the record, my wife had no fucking idea what I was doing. I just wanted to say something so enticing on their machine that they just had to call me back. And that’s the way it worked out.
I paced the living room of my house after that for a half an hour until I couldn’t take the racing thoughts in my head any longer. I walked out the door and straight to a bar up the street and started firing back drinks. I got drunk real quick. The bartender, who was a friend of mine, thought I hit the herb just a little too hard that morning because of the way I kept talking about Bigfoot, and Howard Stern, and how they both might come stay at my house.
Another hour or so passed and I’d blown myself completely out of the water with booze. I probably looked like an exhausted boxer after 15 long rounds, just sitting in the corner of the bar slumped over. And if the employees at this bar weren’t already my friends, I’d probably have just been tossed out into the road.
Then, my cell phone rang. It was an area code that I didn’t recognize. I stared at the number and let it go right to the voice-mail. After wolfing down another drink I looked at the number again. Usually, I’d let about thirty-five messages build up in the mailbox before I would ever even listen to one of them, because let’s face it, who did I really need to talk to? But there was something strange about this number. I opened the phone back up and listened to the messages.
As usual, the voice-mail was filled with ten long minutes of people wondering if I was still alive, or if I would ever be returning their call, before suddenly, I heard static on the other end. There was no voice at first, and then…
“Hi Patrick, this is Steve Langford from the Howard Stern Show. I just received your message and would love to speak with you as soon as possible about the offer you’ve extended to Bigfoot. Please call me back at your earliest convenience. This sounds like a fantastic story.”
I put down the phone. The first thing the bartender asked me was, “who died?” because of the absence of expression on my face. I didn’t know how to feel. I mean, I tried contacting a place that 99% of all people got turned away from, and now they wanted to hear from me ASAP.
I looked up to the bartender and said, “That was the Howard Stern Show, they want me to call them back right now.”
By the way my face had dropped to the floor he knew I was serious. He excitedly smacked the bar, urging me, “Well, go call them, what are you waiting for?”
I looked up at Chris, the enthusiastic bartender and replied, “Look at me… I feel like I’m breathing napalm right now I’m so drunk. The guy from the Howard Stern Show is gonna want to know why I sound completely destroyed.”
Chris calmly turned around and re-educated me, “Pat, you’re an Irishman, you’re like this all the time, what makes this day any different? You’re talking just fine right now.”
He was right. I thought to myself that if I was sober, this is the exact way I’d want to feel. I grabbed my phone and hopped off the stool.
This bar I was at doubled as a restaurant and directly in the middle of a crowd of people eating lunch I started pacing through the middle of their tables and dialing the number to Howard Stern. There was no answer, so I left another message explaining who I was.
I exhaled a sigh of relief, but within seconds my phone was ringing again. It was the same strange number. I held my breath, “Hello,” I answered.
It sounded like whoever was on the other line was driving in a convertible while talking to me. “Patrick, hello, this is Steve Langford again from the Howard Stern Show… do you have some time to talk right now?”
“Of course, Steve,” I replied.
“Great,” the affable voice came back. “Do you mind if I roll some tape. I’m gonna use this for our newsbreak later. I’m gonna be running it as one of our top stories.”
I don’t know what my ass puckered up from quicker, the fact that I was now going to be caught drunk and out of my mind on tape for the nation to hear, or the realization that I’d only made one phone call to these people and already I was a top story. I swallowed my tongue and went with it. “Absolutely, Steve, whatever I can do to help.”
So, for the next ten minutes this gentleman asked me all sorts of questions that I never thought I’d hear in a lifetime. And they all dealt with me housing, feeding, cleaning, and basically babysitting a man named Bigfoot, who I was just finding out for the first time was a full-fledged schizophrenic off his meds. But what could I say?
“Of course I can do that, Steve,” I responded with glee. “My sister used to work for the Association of Retarded Citizens, or better known as ARC,” I continued. “She used to bring these kinds of people over for dinner to our house all the time… we loved it.” Sadly, I forgot to mention to Steve that I rarely ever stuck around for these dinners.
At the end of our conversation, Steve complimented me on my overwhelming generosity and told me that although he thought this story sounded too good to be true he’d be running it as lead news anyway as soon as we got off the phone. After that, he told me that he’d call me the next day. I didn’t even know what to say.
From there it began. That was March 1st of 2008. For nearly two weeks after that Steve and I talked everyday. And as soon as I would get off the phone with him I’d run right to the radio and listen to myself say the most idiotic and ridiculous things about a man who won a contest for being the craziest human in the country, and who I still had never even met.
I wasn’t the only one listening to the newsbreaks either. Friends, family, acquaintances, you name it, they all came out of the woodwork calling me at random times of the day and night to ask, number one: “Did I just hear you on the radio? And number two: “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Remember my wife? She too was a concerned party. She’d come home from work every day for two straight weeks and asked me. “Okay, Pat, now I’m hearing from some of my employees that you’re planning on driving to Vermont to pick up this guy, Bigfoot, and then bring him back here to live with us? I know its fun being on the radio and all… but what exactly are you telling these people, and why does it keep getting worse every day?”
My wife was well aware who Bigfoot was. In fact, she’d been in the car with me several times when he came on the radio and she remembers all too well the tears of laughter running down my face from listening to him. But, in the long run, she listened to the radio so rarely, which meant I could keep her on a need-to-know-basis. And during this fragile crossroads in time, she didn’t need to know shit.
Things started to really suck after that. People we both knew from all walks of life would continuously tell her exactly what came over the airwaves everyday, word for word. And following each newsbreak when she was done cross-examining me I would respond, “They’re all wrong… you’re friends are all wrong’… nobody you know knows what they’re talkin’ about’.”
Every day from March 1st to March 11th the story, and the buildup, and all the ludicrous developments began snowballing out of control. According to me, I wasn’t only going to house and feed Bigfoot, but I was going to throw a huge weekend festival for him, calling it, “The Welcome Home Bigfoot barbecue and luau, it is, party.” The “it is” obviously being Bigfoot’s trademark that he signed off every sentence with. I was also going to take Bigfoot to find a job, even though I currently didn’t even have one. And, to top it all off, after he moved in with me and my wife and was all settled in, we were going to tour the countryside and show Bigfoot the sights of the nation. The bullshit I was slinging was piling up so high I needed wings to stay above it.
Then March 12th came. It was early in the afternoon and I was over at my parent’s house listening to them ramble on about god knows what. When in the middle of it all my phone rang. I looked at my parents and proclaimed, “It’s the Howard Stern Show!”
I answered the line and it was the Howard 100 news reporter, Steve Langford. He had but one question for me. “Well, Patrick, are you ready to go do this? Are you ready to go and pick up Bigfoot and bring him back to your house?”
I looked at my parents who were both looking at me. They knew about as much as my wife did about all of this, nothing. All they knew was that I’d been quite mischievous most of my life and in the last two weeks I decided to kick it up a notch. I answered Steve. “Steve, I’ll do it… I should be able to get on the road by tomorrow morning. Tell Bigfoot to hold on… tell him help is on the way.”
Steve replied, “Tell him yourself, I’m going to give you his phone number right now, he wants to talk to you.”
I shook my parents out of their stupor and implored them for a pen, they both scrambled. I jotted down the number, told Steve that I’d call him back with final details about my departure and then hung up the phone.
I turned to my parents and informed them, “Bigfoot wants to talk to me right now… I have to go outside.”
My parents had no problems with me going outside, but all they wanted to know was, “Who the fuck was Bigfoot?”
Sometimes it was truly exhausting being me, and this was one of those times. I walked out to my parent’s garage and readied myself to make the call. As always I started pacing as I dialed. I prepared myself for the notion that I was now calling the lord-of-all-lunacy, a real sociological gem. The phone rang.
What picked up on the other end of the phone confused even a man of words like me. It was a combination of muffled undertones fixed to a cluster of words that would’ve stumped any renowned cryptologist. Bigfoot answered and it went something like this: “Bigfoot’s house of pancakes and Subway sandwiches, it is, this is Mark speaking, it is, how can I help you… who the fuck is this, it is?”
And from that moment on, I realized I was going to need to bring my true “A-game” if I was going to go one on one with this deranged beast . Even as I tried to offer a measly “hello,” I never even got the chance. Bigfoot was already hollering at me in some low guttural baritone voice, unrelenting that I hadn’t even introduced myself yet, even though I’d been trying the entire time.
“I don’t care who you are, it is, you need to get up to Vermont right now and get me out of here, it is! They’re runnin’ all sorts of crazy tests on me, it is… I need help… you need to get up here and come help me right now, it is!”
“Mark!” I pleaded with him. “I am coming to help you, there’s no need to yell at me like this.” I almost caught myself saying the words, “it is.” “I’m gonna be leaving first thing tomorrow morning to come and get you, please just hold on for me a little longer.”
I then heard screaming through the receiver and someone talking on a loudspeaker in the background. It was clear Bigfoot was in some kind of ward in a hospital. He was talking to me and about three or four other people at the same time and yelling at all of us. When I told him that I’d call him the next morning as soon as I got on the road he hung up on me. I was dumbfounded, standing there in my parent’s garage just staring at my phone.
I put everything into high gear after that. All of my systems were reading nominal. I blew out of my parent’s house and sped home to make preparations for what was to come. In hindsight, I would’ve needed six lifetimes to prepare for what was coming my way.
Over the course of that afternoon, I scrambled around trying to figure out what to do. I had no idea what I was going to tell my wife. My car had a bad inspection sticker and I really didn’t want to take that vehicle on an endless road-trip to go pick up a world-class psychotic. My cash flow was pretty deplorable at best too. And on top of it all, I had no idea where I was even going. All I knew was that it was north, way north, somewhere near the Canadian border.
So, I feverishly began putting my necessary ducks in a row. I called my mother. “Mom,” I said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I promise I’ll take good care of it, but can I borrow your van tonight, my plans have been expedited. I promise you, this time I won’t bring it back on empty.”
She already knew I was going to call and ask to borrow her van, she even stated it prior.
“I just knew you were going to call and ask me for the van. Where is it you’re even going?”
I gripped the phone tight while holding my breath and closing my eyes
I answered, “Vermont.”
I heard a sigh on the other end. “Well,Vermont’s a big state, what part of Vermont?”
What was I going to say, that I still had no idea? So, I did what I did best, I distorted the truth. “Where I’m going is like right across the state-line from Massachusetts. I’m swinging in and out of Vermont. I’ll literally be there for no more than an hour.”
I was so puzzled how anybody could believe a word I ever said, but my mom did. “Fine,” she yielded. “I’ll leave the keys on the counter. Come and get them whenever you’re ready.”
This was huge. I’d now be traveling in the ultimate inconspicuous family-vehicle and riding way low under the radar.
A major hurdle had been sidestepped. My mother had but one last question for me. “What is it you’re going up to Vermont for again? What’s so important?”
I felt like when Indiana Jones shot the sword-fighter in the chest instead of fighting him. “I gotta go, Ma,” I replied. “I’ll call you when I’m on my way over. I have a lot to do right now, thanks a lot.”
Next on the list was my wife. She was at work until eight o’clock that night, which meant if all went according to plan I’d have six more hours to do all the sneaking around I needed in order to get things ready. I also planned on stopping by her place of employment to tell her the big news of my upcoming road trip, instead of dropping it on her through the telephone. She honestly appreciated it much more when I lied to her in person.
I’d say it was about mid-afternoon when I arrived at the biggest decision of the day, which was when my estimated time of departure would be. All signals pointed toward me getting in the van and leaving immediately, ASAP, now. I knew I had to get on the road before my wife got home and started grilling me. And the other key possibility was that I could still quite literally, at any time, just talk myself right the fuck out of doing this. So, I started getting all of my shit together.
I ran upstairs and jumped on the computer and map-quested Hackettstown, New Jersey to Newport, Vermont – Bigfoot’s hometown. I quickly looked at the directions and it read, I-78 to I-95 to I-91 and then bam, you’re there. I glanced at the mileage and it was just like I thought… fucking far.
Now only one thing remained, and that was my monetary situation. There’s no need to trace back to the beginning of this story to figure out that I’m not much of a worker. With that said, cash was a problem for me sometimes and truth be told without boasting, I’ve somehow never really needed money all that much. But, this was not one of those times.
It just so happened that in the top drawer of the dresser in my bedroom I had some money stashed aside for pot. I was really low on the precious leaf and I’d planned on going very soon to get some more.
I sprinted upstairs to count how much money I had; I had about a hundred bucks in my drawer. I stood there with the money in my hand trying to visualize all the necessities I would need along the way namely: gas, food, maybe some razor-blades, in case I wanted to slit my wrists after I got there.
In the end I grabbed sixty bucks. To this day I still can’t believe my judgment. Where the fuck did I think I was going on sixty dollars? But, I thought nothing of it, and stuffed the money into my pocket thinking it would be enough.
With a little bit of pot, three twenty dollar bills, and a shitload of hours behind the wheel ahead of me I ran across town, grabbed my mom’s van, and got on the road to go tell my wife the grand and glorious news, slightly modified of course.
My wife worked about twenty minutes away from our house, but fortunately for me, it was on the way to Vermont. I drove there preparing the big speech in my head. It went something like this, “Hey, Hun, I got my mom’s van and I might be going out for the night. I might be going to Vermont or I might be playing poker at Bob’s house. It’s looking more like a poker night, but who knows?”
I knew she’d never buy my story, but I also knew she’d be surrounded by all of her employees and be unable to do anything about it. Sometimes the pure timing of a quality lie is the genius part of it.
My plan couldn’t have worked out any better. Strolling into her store I was confronted by a flock of her employees all chanting, “We heard you were on Howard Stern, oh my god, what’s going on with Bigfoot?”
I let my wife see all of the attention I was getting before I filled her in on what was going on. She responded, “You’re not playing poker at all tonight, you’re going to Vermont, aren’t you?”
“No I’m not,” I said.
The game was up. “Yes you are,” she replied. “Why on Earth do you have your mother’s van then?”
It didn’t matter anymore because a wave of customers had come into her store and she had to go. I wish I could say I managed to get away scot-free, but just as I walked out the door she shot me that terrible look. The look that says, “You’re fucking dead the next time I see you.”
Any smart person would’ve thanked their lucky stars that there was no heavy spousal-confrontation involved and subsequently gotten on the road immediately. I, however, am not that bright. What I did after that was drive down the street from wife’s store about a quarter mile to a restaurant I used to work at, and from there with friends and former colleagues sitting around me I proceeded to get absolutely shit-faced drunk. I mean who wouldn’t? I think it was Bill Murray that said it best, “Hey toots, keep the drinks comin,’ I got a long drive ahead of me.”
So intoxicated is what I got. From 4:30 pm until 8:30 I ate a cup of soup and drank a bowl of gin. I didn’t want to leave. I told everybody what I was about to do, and then made pretend I never said anything at all. It wasn’t until several people at the bar suggested that I might want to start driving to Vermont sometime this century that I even contemplated wrapping up my martini party.
When I eventually got into the van after that barroom saga I thought I was putting a quarter into the ignition instead of the key because the entire windshield in front of me looked like one big video game. I thought to myself, “What a great time to smoke some pot.”
So after poking holes into an aluminum can and smoking out of it, I was off; tuned up like a fine racecar and driving dead ahead, no pun intended.
Since I used to live in Vermont, I’d done the drive from New Jersey plenty of times before, but in this case my destination was clear over on the other side of the state, a place I’d never been. But, that’s not what concerned me at the moment, because just as I was about to hit the entrance ramp to Interstate 78 I glimpsed down at the gas-gauge and nearly soiled myself. The gauge plummeted from just below a half tank to clear below a quarter of a tank in less than fifteen miles. I’d completely forgotten that this great van I was driving had but one flaw. Whenever the gas needle dipped below a quarter of a tank it just fell right the fuck off the table. So I pulled off at the nearest gas station.
As the tank was filling I decided to call Bigfoot and tell him that I was on my way.
His response to me was, “Who the fuck is this, it is?”
Only after I explained to him again that it was me, Pat, the one that was coming to rescue him did he remember who he was talking to. He had some news for me. “I’m staying at the Newport City Motel now, it is… I’m in room 28, it is… Hurry up and get up here because I got things crawling all over me and I ain’t going to sleep until I stop the itchin’, it is!”
I was the kind of guy that focused on such minuscule details such as: how did Bigfoot have his own cell phone if he was homeless and destitute? But now that things were crawling around his room and he was itching and scratching himself like a Silverback on opiates, I knew I was tumbling deeper and deeper into an abyss. But once again, Bigfoot hung up on me the instant he stopped talking.
I put the phone in my pocket and paid for the gas. It came to thirty seven dollars.
“Good Christ!” I thought. I looked down at the twenty-three dollars I had in my hand and thought about how I hadn’t even left New Jersey yet. That really should’ve been my sign to turn around, but I didn’t.
I got back into the van and drove off. My next heart-stopping surprise was when I hit Interstate 95 and remembered the George Washington Bridge was right in front of me and that it had an eight dollar toll. I felt like I was handing over part of my left arm when the lady reached out and took the toll from me. Now, I had just over fifteen dollars in my pocket and almost a thousand miles to drive.
If you might’ve forgotten, I was still pretty drunk at the moment and that frigid March night seemed to go on forever as I drove through the darkness and far away from the city lights. To my delight, Bigfoot called me every hour on the hour to tell me to hurry the hell up and that his motel room was too hot and that I needed to get up there and turn the thermostat down for him. Each phone call got more and more absurd and scared me just that much more. And just to reiterate, not one of them made a bit of sense.
Then, at about 1 am Bigfoot’s calls stopped. The night was cold and quiet as I reached the Vermont border and I was eerily the only one on the road. I congratulated myself on making it this far and reassured myself that I didn’t have far to go. I had no idea how wrong I was.
The gas-gauge which had been holding its own all along started to head south at about 3 am, I grabbed the shitty map I brought with me that I hadn’t really even taken a look at and turned on the interior light as I drove. I tried to fix my eyes on where I was.
I saw where I was. And then I saw where I needed to go. And for the love of everything holy I still had two fucking hours left! It was at least a hundred and fifty more miles to Newport. I didn’t even realize that Newport,Vermont was directly on top of the Canadian border, I just thought it was kind of close by. So, I bore down and drove.
It was 5 am when I saw my first signs for Newport. All it said was, “Newport– last exit before border.” When I turned off on the exit I was on vapors, physically, mentally and mechanically.
I pulled right into the only all night gas station in town. I sat there staring at my gas-gauge and the four dollars I had left in my hand. What was I going to do, take Bigfoot for a ride around the block a few times and then run out of gas in the same town he was trying to flee?
I walked into the gas station and asked the lady behind the counter where the Newport City Motel was. According to her and all the hot dogs she was surrounded by it was right down the street. I walked back outside and got in the van.
Down the snowy street I drove and not even a hundred yards away there it was, with its big green sign, the Newport City Motel.
When I pulled in all was quiet. I saw the room Bigfoot was apparently staying in and it too was dark and silent. With the van idling I sat there with my thoughts as it started to snow. I was exhausted, broke, nervous, and most of all cold every time I turned off the engine. I was forced to leave the van running as the needle dipped further and further down toward the E. But I had no choice. I had to leave the van running. According to the bank’s sign down the street it was well below zero and I was fucking freezing no matter what the temperature was outside.
I tried to get some sleep but it was no use. I planned on waiting until at least 7 am before I started pounding on Bigfoot’s door and consequently adding him to my growing list of problems. But, what was I going to do in the meantime?
I thought about it. Four dollars certainly wasn’t going to get me back to New Jersey, but it could get me another hour or two of warmth. So, I left the motel parking lot again and drove back to the gas station. I emptied my pockets and my mother’s ash tray that was always full of change until I got a hold of it all and counted. I now had five dollars and twenty three cents. I pumped away on the gas-handle. The gas tank itself was showered with just less than two gallons of gas. Right then, I knew I was in for it.
I went in, paid for the gas, and drove back to the motel. This time I crawled into the back of the van and shut my eyes. I’m telling you, I couldn’t have slept that night if I was fucking chloroformed. With the panicked thoughts running through my head it was just all so futile. Then I had a thought. I have a photographic memory. What if I went back to the gas station and rattled off my wife’s credit card number? It was valid, and she was my wife, and her last name was McFadden. “It could work,” I thought. I knew the expiration date and the three digit code on the back. So I went for it.
For the third time within the hour I drove back to the gas station. I parked the van and thought about exactly what I was going to say. I had to sound precise and urgent.
This lady in the store had seen my face three times already in the last forty five minutes alone. She knew I was an out-of-towner. And the last time I saw her I paid for my two gallons of gas with a fistful of pennies. I knew this would be an interesting scenario to say the least.
I took my hat off, fixed my hair, and walked inside. I went straight up to the counter. She could immediately tell I was coming to talk to her and not to buy anything.
“Hi again,” I greeted her with. “You must think I’m driving around in circles or something, but I have a big problem and I was wondering if you might be able to help.”
The look she gave me indicated that she loathed people with big problems.
I knew this was going to have to be something of a special performance by me, so I just let myself roll with it; lying when I felt it necessary and parading on with the truth as if I was hooked to a polygraph machine.
“Miss,” I said, (because let’s face it, all women over forty love being called ‘miss.’) “Miss, I just realized that I lost my wallet somewhere between here and Albany. You might’ve realized something was wrong when I came in here and paid for my gas in pennies before…”
She was picking up the bullshit I was laying down. “Yeah,” she replied. “It is odd for the owner of a nice minivan to pay for their gas in change.”
The store was empty and I had her going. I looked down at her name-tag.
“Yes it is, Joan…” I gave her a nice big smile. “Listen Joan, I’m from New Jersey and to get back there I don’t need food and I don’t drinks, but what I do need is gas. The fact that I lost my wallet isn’t bad enough, but that van of mine out there burns gas like we breathe… it’s nonstop.”
Joan was starting to gather that the overall topic here concerned gas, but she still had no clue what I was readying to ask her. I continued. “My wife’s dead asleep right now back in New Jersey and I don’t want to wake her up in a panic, so what I was wondering was…” I readied myself. “I know my credit card number in my head, Joan… the expiration date, the three digit code on the back, the whole nine yards.”
Joan looked somewhat impressed. This was it. “Joan, would it be cool if I just gave you my credit card number and you could punch it into that machine over there so I could fill up my tank and get home? I was a bartender and I used to do it for people all the time when their cards wouldn’t swipe, it’s perfectly fine.”
I’ll admit it, Joan was thrown off. “I don’t know,” she hesitantly responded. “I don’t think I’m supposed to do that. My manager will be here in about five minutes, maybe you should ask him?”
I was sunk. I moped around her store after that distraught, like she sent me to bed without a Slurpee. I hadn’t even met Bigfoot yet and this whole thing had already blown up in my face.
Then the manager walked in. He was like some overachieving high school kid.
I walked up to the counter when I saw him, and Joan and I both began explaining my situation to him together. He too said, “I don’t think I can do that.”
Now I got serious. “Please, Justin, I can show you my driver’s license; it’s the only thing I didn’t lose. You can have all my info. I’ll get you my van’s license plate number, everything…”
I poured it on thick and the kid was beginning to buy in to my heartbreaking tale of woe. I apologized again for starting his morning off with such a bang. He, however, had a question for me, “What are you doing up this way?”
I looked around and embarrassingly chuckled. “You know that guy Bigfoot you got living in this town?” I asked.
By their reactions I could tell it was like asking them if they knew who George Washington was.
“Of course we do,” they both answered. Joan then inquired, “Why?”
I felt as if we’d finally reached some common ground now, like something might actually be achieved. “Well,” I replied. “I’m the guy that’s here to pick Bigfoot up and take him back to New Jersey to live with me… I’m gonna see if I can help him out.”
It was funny, because what these people didn’t know was that I could barely help myself, but what I was totally unaware of was that I was already a minor celebrity to Joan and her teenage boss. They knew exactly who I was, and they both became borderline ecstatic when they realized who they were talking to. “That’s you,” the kid incredulously asked. I couldn’t believe the turning of the tides. I just started rolling with it.
“That’s right,” I told them both. “Everything was going according to plan and was right on schedule until I lost my wallet. I’m supposed to call the Howard Stern Show in a little while to update them on my progress, but I don’t even know what to tell them now.”
My problems were over. The teenage supervisor got me a piece of paper and a pen and told me to write down my credit card number. He also told me to grab some food and drinks from the store if I wanted as well. According to what Joan was telling me, Newport had been trying to rid itself of Bigfoot for years. He was the black mark on the town. And now since he’d gotten famous it had all just spiraled out of control.
It turns out that all of Newport had been waiting for me. I was their knight in shining armor so to speak. It was unfortunate that I pulled into town on a lame horse and such, but all I had to do was say the word around town and anybody would be happy to help me help them get Bigfoot the fuck out of town. I thanked Justin and Joan so much for their support.
So, I filled up the tank on fifty dollars from my wife’s credit card, grabbed cupcakes and Mountain Dew and drove back to the motel. The snow had stopped and the sun had begun to show. I pulled into the same parking spot that I pulled out of three times already and once again with the calm soothing feeling of a full tank of gas beneath me, I tried to get to some rest. But again, nothing happened.
It was 7am, the designated time I set aside for calling and waking up Bigfoot.
I couldn’t bring myself to do it just yet. I bided some time and waited one more hour.
It was now 8am, the sun was up and there was activity all around me. I still saw no signs of life in room 28 however (Bigfoot’s room) but I was out of patience. I opened my cell phone and called.
It rang a few times and then he answered. From the sound of it I thought I’d awoken the Kraken. “Hello, it is,” he greeted me with. “What do you want, it is?”
I took charge immediately, “Mark, its Pat,” I said. “Are you up, are you gonna be ready to get on the road soon?”
“Ready to go soon, it is!” he screamed. “Ready to go soon… I got about eight hundred things I gotta get done before I go anywhere, it is! You need to take me to get new clothes, it is… I got to go to the post office, it is, the bank… I need to go to the drugstore to get the medication for my scabies, it is. We have a lot of places to go to before I’m ready to go anywhere with you, it is. Where, it is, are you anyway? How come you ain’t here yet, it is?”
I was still totally lost in the whole scabies thing. “I’m in the parking lot,” I replied. “I figured I’d let you sleep in a little bit.”
Apparently Bigfoot hated courteous people. “Get in here, it is!” he shouted.
“You should’ve knocked on my door as soon as you got into town, it is! What’s wrong with you, it is?”
Wow, a schizophrenic was asking what was wrong with me. I think it was then and there that I knew that I too had to be crazy. I got out of the van and walked across the parking lot to room 28. Now, I’d seen Bigfoot on TV a few times and on the internet, but live and in person was a brand new story. I stepped up to the door of the motel and knocked.
It took a second or two before I heard commotion, a thud then a bang, then the door flew wide and God and baby Jesus and Moses and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, formerly known as Lew Alcindor, it was fucking unbelievable!
Towering in front of me, due in small part to the raised front doorstep to the room was one of the seven wonders of the natural world, standing there in a pair of tighty-whities. His mane was that of a prehistoric African lion, George Clooney style, meaning he was salt and peppered to an almost perfect proportion. I must’ve been standing there a long time because he quickly lost it on me. “What the fuck are you doing, it is… are you comin’ in or what, it is? I’m standing here in my underwear… can’t you see that, it is?”
What I actually saw was the beginning of a long and perilous journey, fraught with giant men with scabies chasing me around in their underwear. I buckled up and stepped inside the room.
It was a motel room like any other, one that you’ve seen a thousand times, however, one key and vital element was missing here: the board of fucking health.
To my left was well over twenty 2-liter bottles of soda and over three quarters of them were already drank and empty. On the floor were boxes filled with shoes, papers, raw bacon, you name it. He had gallons of warm milk sitting out, some starting to congeal, and he drank from one before he even said two words to me. In the sweets department it looked like he held M&M Mars hostage. There was so much candy piled next to the TV and on the floor it was sickening. But nothing could take my attention away from the fact that he was basically naked and back lying in bed with no covers on rubbing his feet together like he was trying to start a fire with them. He told me to sit down as we started to converse.
His itching and scratching should’ve been the only topic of conversation but it wasn’t.
I asked Bigfoot if he had any family and he explained to me in his own native tongue that he was the eldest of three boys and that nobody cared about him anymore, and that everyone in his family gave up on him, including his mother.
I turned the conversation to a brighter topic and asked Bigfoot about the Howard Stern Show. That too depressed him and he painstakingly told me that aside from the money he’d won and the good times he’d had on the shows it’s brought him nothing but bad luck in his hometown of Newport.
Then I asked if he smoked pot. I did that for selfish reasons, not because I was trying to make small talk, but because my stash was all but dried up and I was starting to freak out a little bit.
Bigfoot didn’t answer me at first, which I thought right away was a bad sign; but that’s only because he was busy reaching under the bed. And wouldn’t you know it, this guy came equipped with all sorts of drugs.
From underneath the bed Bigfoot rolled over and pulled out two items: The first was a Ziploc freezer-bag filled with so many multi-colored pills it almost looked like Valentines Day candy. And the second thing he held was a joint the size of my head. “Didn’t they tell you I needed drugs, it is?” he asked.
I didn’t know who “they” were but I didn’t concern myself with that, because Bigfoot was in the middle of handing me the joint and telling me to spark it up.
Before putting it in my mouth I told Bigfoot I admired his handiwork. “Thanks Mark, this is a nice joint you rolled here.”
“I didn’t roll it, it is,” Mark blurted out. “My fingers are too fat, it is… look at them, I can’t roll anything with these fingers, it is.”
The fact that it was big and it was in my mouth I didn’t care where the joint came from. Then I realized something. Mark was a high-profile motel guest, who according to him had run-ins with the law at least once a week. I reconsidered about where we should smoke this pot. “Maybe we should smoke in the bathroom or something, Mark,” I suggested. “If the wrong person walks by your door we could be in trouble here.”
“Okay, it is,” Mark replied, springing off the bed.
And from there the ball of chaos began to pick up speed. In his underwear and scratching himself constantly, Bigfoot and I went into a bathroom that was two feet by one foot in diameter and lit up the spliff. Bigfoot was naked and on top of me and when I turned to talk to him what I was really speaking to were his armpits.
Smoking the joint and listening to his tales of woe, Mark began explaining what life was like for him in the last several weeks. “I’m sick and fucking tired, it is… the mental health department around here just keeps giving me the runarounds, it is… what the fuck do they expect me to do, it is?”
I was about to answer on the mental health department’s behalf, but Mark was on a roll.
“Mental health put me in a motel last week, it is, and I got eaten by bed bugs there, it is… they were everywhere, it is! Look you can see all the bites on the back of my legs it is and on my arms… this red thing right here is scabies and bed bugs mixed together, it is.”
I was smoking the joint so fast that it probably looked like I was eating it. We must’ve been in that bathroom about ten minutes when I unknowingly scratched an itch on my arm and Mark and I both looked at each other. “Maybe you got bedbugs and scabies now too, it is?” he said. “You better watch out, it is.”
I bolted out of that bathroom and sat back down in the chair while Mark went right back to bed. He laid there in front of me again with no covers on scratching every part of his body while watching TV and rubbing his size 15 triple E feet together so furiously once more that I was seriously looking for smoke. It was absolutely nauseating.
Giving him enough time to cover his entire body with his scratching fingernails I finally asked him, “Mark, are you ready to get this show on the road soon? I gotta get back to New Jersey sometime today.”
One thing Mark didn’t like was being rushed, especially when it came to putting on clothes that were apparently infested with bedbugs and residue from scabies. What I couldn’t wait for was for him to sit in my mom’s van. That was going to be exciting.
Like pulling teeth with your bare hands Mark at long last and with endless whining comments put on his pants and shirt and walked to the door and outside with me. It was time to see Bigfoot in action.
We both got into my mom’s van as my phone rang. It was an old friend.
I answered as I turned on the van, “Hello.”
This friend of mine, who was quite a free spirit too, was hollering, “Pat, where are you… are you with Bigfoot? They’ve been talking about it on the radio during every newsbreak. You’re not really up there are you… this isn’t really happening, is it?!”
I loved my friend Colin but I had no time for this. All I said was, “Oh really, you don’t believe me,” and I handed the phone to Bigfoot. Pulling out of the motel parking Bigfoot left no doubt to my friend that I departed New Jersey the previous night and crossed over into the great beyond. When Bigfoot was done yelling at my friend and handed the phone back to me I got on and uttered, “Did you get that?” My buddy was so impressed with the level of insanity I chose that he told me he completely understood that I needed to get off the phone.
The first place Bigfoot wanted to take me was to see his automobile. His car, like him, was something of a legend around Newport and on the Stern Show. It was an old white Cadillac that was so near and dear to his heart that he left it sitting in a seven-foot pile of snow over the entire winter. According to his mechanical mind and the garage the car was cocooned at it needed a new transmission. It’s one of the few things I actually got some pictures of during this whole ordeal, and that’s probably because it was the only thing in his life he was proud to show me. I might’ve understood a little more about the bond between Bigfoot and his car if I only got to see something else besides the roof. The entire car was buried in a mountain snow
From there we went to get Bigfoot out of his parasitic rags and into some new clothes, at a place called the Pick & Shovel. When he said this to me I pictured him coming out of the store looking like a coal-miner, but within seconds we were already there.
The Pick & Shovel was located in downtown Newport and when we got out of the van I realized that this was my first public appearance with Bigfoot. My stomach started to knot.
Walking into the store behind Bigfoot only confirmed that I was in the presence of greatness that day. People were peeking around aisles and down stairs trying to catch a glimpse of the freight train of profanities barreling through the store. Bigfoot was saying the word “fuck” more than he was saying his trademark phrase, “it is.” And when I heard he was talking even louder than the guy on the PA, I put an end to it.
“Mark,” I yelled walking behind him. “Can you please stop cursing, there are kids everywhere and everybody’s looking at us!” I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders as Mark quieted down. I let him know another thing. “And another thing, Mark, there’s no need to be mean to everyone you see all the time… not every customer here knows where the underwear section is. And yelling at them isn’t going to make them magically remember.”
Mark was going up to everybody he saw in the store and asking for the underwear section. I felt another calm rush through me as I took control of the situation. Asking someone who actually worked at the Pick & Shovel, I got a promising response on where to find some underwear. We headed upstairs.
Upstairs the scene grew even more bizarre. We still couldn’t find any underwear.
First we were looking at fish and then we were looking at children’s clothes. I again went and asked for assistance immediately.
At last, after being shepherded to the male-undergarment-section like a couple of blind gypsies, we were standing in front of the decision of a lifetime. What size did Bigfoot wear?
I asked Mark if he liked boxer-shorts, he said “no.” I asked Mark if he didn’t mind colored underwear and he said he only wore white. Then I asked him if he was a large, an extra large, a double X, and then finally I stopped and alerted him, “Mark, this is a triple extra large, it doesn’t get any bigger than this, what’s it gonna be here?”
Mark wanted to know what I thought. I told him I thought the bigger the better, and that he might as well give those genitals of his some room to breathe, especially if they were covered in scabies. Who could’ve known that this error in judgment concerning underwear-size would come back to haunt the both of us?
From there Bigfoot went into the Pick & Shovel’s one and only dressing room.
If you can imagine going back to first grade and sitting in your old desk this is kind of what it looked like with him in this dressing room. With the dressing room door barely covering his midsection Bigfoot disrobed. He stood there and caught clothes out of the air that I was throwing at him from across the store. People walking by stopped to check out what all the ruckus was about. When each one of them saw a Sasquatch half naked trying on flannel they made right for the stairs and were gone, out of there. The fact that Bigfoot was literally bursting out of the dressing room might’ve also added to everyone’s hastened flight. But the children however, forget about it.
When a parent or someone with a small child saw Bigfoot coming their way it was like witnessing someone’s own personal apocalypse. I’m telling you, if the parent had no where to run they would’ve just fallen down on the floor and curled up into a ball around their offspring. Fortunately, their were escape routes everywhere in the Pick & Shovel.
Mark ended up picking out one pair of pants and two shirts, which he wore right up to the check out counter. I instructed him to leave the rags he wore into the store in the dressing room, since they were probably somewhat alive and could maybe crawl after him. He agreed with me that this was probably a good idea. I didn’t even bother to think about the lucky person that would have to clean the clothes up, the poor employee. What a find that must’ve been. I should’ve left a sign on the clothes saying, “Burn immediately, do not touch.”
Some of you might have been wondering how a schizophrenic off his meds and a guy with no money were going to pay for these clothes. The answer was, Bigfoot had a bunch of money… at times that is; now just happened to be one of those times.
Mark got some sort of check every so often, I’m not sure if it was state funded, medically related or both. But he told me that he always blew all the money as soon as he got it and then that was usually it; he was typically fucked for a good while. Mark also wasn’t homeless for lack of money. He was homeless because he burned so many bridges in Newport that he’d run out of people to establish relationships with. Every apartment he’d apparently lived in he turned upside down for him and his neighbors, and since the same guy owned almost all the apartment-buildings in town, he was basically blackballed.
Mark tossed out fifty dollars and paid for the clothes. After he was finished embarrassing, insulting, and flat-out mystifying the cashier, we were out the door and back in the van. Now, Mark was hungry. “I’m hungry, it is… I want Subway, it is.”
What was I going to do, say no to this? That would’ve been tantamount to sitting in the van with a starving lion. To Subway we went.
Mark blasted through Subway’s front door and started raising hell immediately. Thank God there was nobody in there except for a few employees because he was on fire. According to Mark, at some other Subway down the road, in another town, he was mistreated not too long ago and the result was that they made his sandwich all wrong. And now he was back to seek retribution and vengeance and settle a score even thought these people had nothing to do with any of it.
To that crew of Subway employees, Mark was the bane of each of their existence, a real horsefly in the ointment if you will. He sat there berating some poor girl whose job it was to do nothing but hurl lunch meat around, and he gave her a piece of his demented mind as soon as he stepped up to the counter. The manager eventually had to step in, make Mark’s sandwich the exact way he wanted it, which was basically triple all the meat, and then give him everything for free so he would just shut the fuck up and leave already. I sat there and tried closing my eyes and picturing Bigfoot walking around my kitchen having coffee with me and my wife when we eventually got home. It still hadn’t really hit me that he was actually coming home with me.
Watching Mark eat this sandwich was like watching a hyena eat, an animal completely out of control. I told him that the real reason I thought he needed stool-softeners was because he took bites of food that were the size of house-cats, and that he didn’t even chew the food properly. He was quickly finished with the foot-long sub before I even got comfortable in the booth, and once again we were back in the van and on the road.
From there we traveled to the post office and then to the bank, both of which I waited in the van. I didn’t care to see Bigfoot in action in a banking atmosphere at all.
It didn’t matter anyway because when he came out of the bank it turned out that he was broke again anyway. I listened to him ramble on about things that people who were retarded would consider minutiae, and this went on all the way back to the motel. It was endless. He asked me when we finally got to the room if I would call the bank for him and see what the hell was going on with his account. I told him that I’d make the call for him, and furthermore, I couldn’t wait to do it.
Back at the motel we smoked some more pot as Bigfoot instructed me to find the phone number for his bank, dial it up, and then hand him the phone. So, that’s what I did.
The first words out of Mark’s mouth to his bank were, “Yeah, how much money is in my account, it is?” Mark didn’t even bother identifying himself or even saying “please” for that matter. He just wanted the lady on the other end to recite his whole banking history from memory, right away, without knowing any account information. It turned out that since the town of Newport was so tiny that the woman on the other line knew exactly who she was talking to. And with a few more awkward seconds of listening to Mark make insane small talk with this very kind lady I heard him say, “So, I have twenty seven cents in my account, it is? Okay, I’ll be down to get it soon, it is.”
That afternoon started to wear on as I got edgier and more jumpy regarding Mark’s apathy toward getting on the highway and heading back to New Jersey. When he finally asked if I wanted to go check out the indoor swimming pool and maybe go for a swim in the hotel I snapped, “Mark, we gotta get going, man… I gotta get back home. I came up here to pick you up… not to stay. I told you, I’ve already lost my wallet (The lie worked so well before I figured I’d just keep it going.) I’m not staying up here without any money.”
Mark had very different plans and he went right ahead and told me all about them.
“Mental Health paid for another night at this motel for me, it is … I kind of like it here, we should stay another night, it is, and hang out and then we’ll get going tomorrow morning, it is.”
The thought of me staying in that motel room all night with Bigfoot, it was chilling, to say the least. Watching him drink congealed milk and scratch himself silly while I balled up in the corner of the room and prayed for the sun to come up was what I was seeing in my future. The whole thing just sounded awful.
So I made up a lie. “Mark, I can’t stay here,” I said. “However, I have an idea. I’m going to leave and have my wife meet me in Massachusetts and bring me some money. After that I’ll come right back here, we’ll hang out for the night and we’ll get on the road tomorrow morning. How does that sound?”
Mark was all for it, but he had one problem. “I want to switch rooms, it is. I don’t like this room anymore, it is” he said. “You can go to Massachusetts after you help me move all my stuff out of here, it is. This room’s too dirty for me now, it is.”
The lie that I just handed Mark about going to Massachusetts didn’t even make any sense. My wife wouldn’t have driven next door to help me out if the problem at hand concerned Bigfoot. But Mark somehow bought into it all anyway.
My real plan was this: to get back down to New Jersey and regroup. I was going to use this particular trip as a prep-run and get back to my house so I could Bigfoot-proof it before the real shit-storm rolled in after I came back and got him.
Before getting back on the road to New Jersey that afternoon I called Steve Langford (The Howard Stern reporter) to apprise him of the situation that I crashed into head-first. I filled Steve in about our experiences at the Pick & Shovel and what it was like to watch Bigfoot put down a Subway sandwich. Steve reaffirmed for me that this little story of mine was truly fascinating and that he’d be running clips of our conversation that day during the very next Howard-100-newsbreak. The fact that I implemented the lie that I had to backtrack to Massachusetts to meet my wife and get more money only added to the overall drama of this debacle.
While I was busy promising Bigfoot that I’d return for him ASAP he warned me that he didn’t function well when left to his own devices, and now that I was technically ‘caring for him’ I should be very speedy in my return. I got in my mom’s van right after he said that and I said to myself, “See ya the fuck later… eventually though, of course.”
The first few hours of my ride back to New Jersey was nothing but decompression. I don’t think I even looked at the lines on the road as I kept envisioning Bigfoot defiling another motel room while dancing about and drinking his soda. The day then turned into night and the sky opened up as rain began to fall.
By the clicks on the odometer that I was counting I calculated that from my house in New Jersey to Newport, was roughly four-hundred and fifty miles. That seemed like an awful amount of miles for me to be driving on just one tank of gas? That drive wore on and on and the gas-needle did what it did best, it plummeted.
By the time I was in central Connecticut I was now hovering at just over a quarter of a tank, and now, thankfully, I was stuck in the last of the rush-hour traffic. Southern Connecticut came and the needle fell faster. Then, while stuck in even more traffic in Bridgeport,CT which is not too far from New York City, I decided to take a detour. It was the worst decision I ever made in the year 2008.
What I did was instead of going through NYC, the George Washington Bridge, and then on to western New Jersey, I circumvented the city and dropped down into northern New Jersey and then got more lost than Flight 19 did over the Bermuda Triangle.
With the needle settled at just above empty, I drove through and around Nyack, New York in bumper-to-bumper traffic like I just opened up my own taxi-service. My questions to random strangers got more and more strained and dire every time I stopped the van. My questions went from: “Can you tell me how to get to the exit for 287 north from here,” all the way to… “Do you know where the fuck New Jersey is?” And yes, I was using the “F” word at this stage of the game.
Finally, some middle-aged Italian guy who I could see was also worn down by the frustrations of life told me, “Hey, the Palisades Parkway is right down this road here, you can’t miss it.”
Here’s where I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Years ago I met a guy who lived right next to the Grand Canyon but actually had never seen it in his life. And I met a 97-year-old cowboy in Montana that never left the state of Montana. This was sort of my relationship to the Palisades Parkway. I knew the Palisades Parkway was somewhere right in my own back yard, I just never cared to learn much about it, where it went, or if it was a toll road or free or not. But, thankfully, I did find it, and like many things my life, I found it purely by accident.
Still in New York State, just outside Nyack, on a road as strange to me as an animal-rights-activist working on a whaling ship the gas light went on, again, and this time for good.
The Palisades Parkway is a rather poorly lit road and considering the idea that it borders the Hudson River next to New York City it was quite rustic, but what the fuck did I care about that? Every exit sign I saw had a strange town’s name on it and made less and less sense as I watched my chances of returning safely to my house drop with the needle in the gauge. Then, I saw a miracle, the sign for Route 80, America’s most recognizable road. I almost started crying, I was so happy.
Route 80 brought about one thing, the very last of the gas needle’s movements. I’m only saying that because it reached the very bottom and now had nowhere else to go. It was buried beneath the E and the sweat running down my brow was burning my eyes.
When I passed Paterson, New Jersey, home of Bob Dylan’s famous subject, Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, I knew I was fucked. Paterson was at least forty plus miles from my house in Hackettstown, and that gas needle was buried so far into the gauge now that I couldn’t even see it anymore. I pulled into the right lane and closed my eyes without really closing them. I was strangling the steering wheel as I chugged along.
For one hour I drove like that, that’s right, one hour. When I actually got off on the first exit Hackettstown is accessible from I waited for the car to stall the second I got on the ramp, but it didn’t. Nope, I made it all the way to within one half mile of my house and then all of a sudden that was it, out of gas. I tried turning the ignition over one more time just in case there was a single drop that wanted to spill into the fuel-injector but it was over, dead.
By now it was raining harder than it had been all night. I didn’t mind though, because after all, I just traveled roughly sixty-five miles with a fuel light on and now I only had a stone’s throw from my house to go. Hanging out with Bigfoot in the motel earlier that afternoon seemed like nothing more than a distant memory.
When I eventually got home that Friday night, after walking through the rain, and dozing off behind the wheel for nearly twenty-four straight hours I was utterly spent. My wife was sitting there on the couch in her favorite spot when I staggered through the door. She knew by the look on my face not to ask me any questions. I said, “hi,” walked right upstairs and went to sleep until the next afternoon. When I awoke the next day my world was up-ended.
I don’t know how many times Bigfoot had called me while I was sleeping but it might’ve been a trillion. Steve from the Howard Stern Show also called to remind me that millions of people were waiting to find out what my next move was going to be, and more importantly, when. If I recall correctly, I think I got back in bed and went right back to sleep.
During the early afternoon of Saturday, March 15, I made my first call to Bigfoot since abandoning him up in Vermont the afternoon before. I expected the worst of his wrath and that’s exactly what I got.
I placed the call around 1 pm, the same time as the motel’s extended checkout as I remembered him telling me. In direct result of my leaving Vermont and coming back to New Jersey, Bigfoot now had nowhere to go. I called the motel and they put me right through to his room, like I was NASA and he was on the launching pad. He answered.
“Hello, it is,” he said. I could tell from those three words that I was about to really get it. Then he unleashed on me, “You said you were going to be back in four fucking hours, it is! Where the fuck are you, it is?! I got no money now because of you, it is… the motel’s trying to kick me out on the street, it is… Mental Health won’t pay for no more nights here at the motel, it is… everybody told me not to trust you, it is!”
I tried to think of who the “everybody” might be that he was referring to, and then I quickly remembered that I was talking to schizophrenic.
“Whoa,” I tried calming him down with. “Mark listen to me… when I promised you that I’d be back to get you I meant it. I can’t help all of these problems I’ve had since I left.” In reality, I had no idea what problems I was even referring to; I hadn’t even made up any yet of as I continued feeding Bigfoot a pile of uncensored lies. “Nothing is going to happen to you, I will make sure of that, Mark.” I kept reassuring him.
Bigfoot had heard enough of my lines, and he demanded action. “Well, what are you going to do, it is?!” he clamored. “They’re gonna throw me out on the street in about five minutes, it is, and then what do I do, it is?”
I told Mark not to move and that I would call him back in two minutes. I ran out to the shed in my backyard so my wife couldn’t hear what I was about to say and prepared myself for what it was I was about to do.
I opened up my phone and dialed. A woman answered, “Newport City Motel, this is Vanessa speaking, how can I help you?”
I cleared my throat and spoke up. “Hi Vanessa, my name is Patrick McFadden,” I said. “I don’t know if you’ve heard but I’m the guy who is supposed to be helping out Mark Shaw who you have staying there in room 34, you know, Bigfoot?”
I’d forgotten that no one in Newport, and probably all of Vermont for that matter, needed a Bigfoot 101 introduction; they all knew exactly who Mark Shaw was. “Yes, hi, Mr. McFadden,” Vanessa replied. “Are you here to pick him up now,” she continued. “It’s already well past our check-out time and I’d hate to have to call the authorities on Mark.”
I prepared to lay it on thick. “Vanessa, I’m down in New Jersey right now with a whole heap of problems of my own and there is no way I’m going to be able to get back up there today. Bigfoot is worried that I’m going to abandon him, but what I want to do is pay for another night for him at the motel.” I held my breath and prayed he hadn’t already worn out his welcome there. “Would that be okay if I did that?”
There was a moment of brief hesitation. Then she came back on. “I guess that would be all right. How will you be paying for it?” she inquired.
If I was an honest man I would’ve just told her, “Yeah, it’s my wife’s credit card that I memorized in my head.” But, a sharp pain shot through my stomach, “By Visa,” I softly replied.
And from there I rattled off the number. As Vanessa was entering the digits in her computer, I asked if anyone had seen Bigfoot around the premises since the day before when I left. According to everybody in the motel’s front office he hadn’t left his room once. I asked to be transferred over to him as soon as Vanessa told me the credit card got the green light for the fifty-two dollar transaction. Mark’s line rang.
Bigfoot answered. I told him in these exact words. “Mark, I just took care of your room there for another night. It’s all squared away so you don’t have to go anywhere or worry about anything. I told you that I’m coming back to get you, but you’re just going to have to hang tight for a little bit longer.”
Mark had a real appreciation for me and my kind gesture. He told me, “Thanks a fucking lot,” and hung up on me. That was Saturday.
On Sunday, when I woke up I thought I had a noose around my neck and was already swinging from the gallows, I was choking on reality. I was so hung over from drinking away my problems the day before that I forgot I shut off my phone, and with it the world. And when I turned my phone back on that morning after eventually stumbling over to pick it up, I think that’s exactly who had called me, the entire fucking world.
It was like every single person that I’d ever met over the course of my life had left me a message wanting to know when Bigfoot was going to be at my house, and if, he/she or they could come over and meet him as soon as we arrived. To second this, there were also a handful of calls from Steve Langford (from the Stern show) seeking to find out what mind-boggling turn of events I would be spewing out this time. And of course, who could forget to count the eight-hundred and sixteen messages from Bigfoot himself. I couldn’t wait to clean out these recordings.
The messages from Bigfoot were the equivalent to that of a windtalker, meaning it was unparalleled, mindless, fanatical gibberish. There were a couple sentences where he didn’t even remember who it was he was talking to. In his last and final few transmissions he sounded exhausted. I thought about the chain of events that I set in motion that Sunday morning and realized, there was no way I was driving anywhere near Vermont that day, no way.
I called the motel office and asked to be patched over to room 34. The lady on the other line chuckled before putting me through. In an instant, Mark picked up.
His fury knew no limits. “You better be on your fucking way back up here, it is!” he shouted. “I’m not sitting in this fucking room anymore waitin’ for your stupid ass, it is, where the fuck are you, it is?!” he demanded to know my whereabouts right there and then.
What was I going to do, lie to him? But of course I was. “Mark, I can’t get up there today,” I told him. I immediately heard his discontent on the other line as I continued. “My wife’s about to throw me out of the house and I’m sick as a dog… there’s no way I’m driving twenty hours again.” The line about my wife threatening to throw me out was indeed just a line, but it wouldn’t be for much longer as I’d soon find out.
“Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do now, it is!” Mark hollered, and rightfully so.
It was like Groundhog Day. “Mark,” I said. “I’m paying for another night for you at the motel. It’s a safe place to stay and you’re not gonna find anything better, so you can either take it or leave it.”
Thinking for one second that he would’ve appreciated any of the things I’d done for him he hollered at me. “Great, that’s just fucking great, it is, and what the fuck am I supposed to eat, it is? I been eatin’ candy bars and drinkin’ soda since you left here, it is… do you know how bad all that sugar is for my body, it is?”
I thought about a ship being torpedoed after it was already sunk, a mere metaphor for Mark’s concerns over his diet
Mark continued to yell at me before I broke in and yelled back, “Well, if I get you something to eat too then, along with paying for your room, will that shut you the fuck up? What do you want to eat, Mark? Do any of the places around Newport deliver? I’ll get something sent to your door, will that be good enough?”
Mark had bad news for me. “Nobody in Newport delivers food, it is!” he informed me.
I suddenly remembered that there was a Chinese restaurant right next to the motel.
It was literally twenty feet away. “Do you like Chinese food?” I asked him.
“Not really, it is” he replied.
“Well, what happens if it’s your only option… will you eat Chinese food then?” I asked him.
“I guess so, it is” he answered. Then he roared back, “But, I don’t want to have to answer the door or sign for anything, it is! Tell them to just leave the food by the door and walk away, it is!”
This was one of those times where I actually took the phone away from my ear and stared at it. Now, according to Bigfoot’s demands, I was supposed to make a place that didn’t deliver food, deliver food. I was also supposed to ask them to wait for no signature and to just knock on the door and run, furthermore, waiting for no answer whatsoever. I was betting pretty heavy that I was going to have to speak broken English really well to get this all accomplished.
So, I did. For the first time in our relationship I hung up the phone on Mark and called the motel office back to get the number for the Chinese restaurant next door. I got the number and called.
While the phone rang I tried to think of what I should order a man whose digestion habits were ranked worse than that of a garbage disposal. A woman on the other end picked up, and it was my worst fears come true, she spoke English like I spoke Arabic, she didn’t.
“Can I herp you,” she greeted me with.
“Oh my God,” I thought. “Here we go.”
I figured everybody likes soup so that’s what I went with first. “Yeah hi,” I said. “Can I have two large wonton soups, please?” I heard her scream in her native tongue that I was a soup lover.
“Okay, what erse,” she asked.
Remembering that Bigfoot drank congealed milk and ate basically anything put in front of him I went about ordering him enough food to hopefully feed him until I got back there. I thought about it. “Yeah, let me have three orders of your largest beef lo mien and two orders of General Tso’s chicken, and that’ll do it.”
“Okay,” she said getting ready to repeat it all back to me. “You rant, two rarge ronton soups, three extra rarge beef ro mien and two Generar chicken?”
“Yes,” I responded, cringing at what I was about to do, and how much it would probably cost.
“Okay, bout fifteen minute,” she replied ready to hang up the phone on me.
“Hold up,” I interrupted, preparing myself to speak very slowly using mainly nouns and verbs. “Listen, if I give tip, will you bring food next door to motel… to room 34… I pay ten dollars extra if you can do that.”
“Sorry, no derivery,” she said in a stock voice she probably used on every caller looking for delivery.
I implored her, “Please, I have no way to pick up the food… I’m calling you from New Jersey right now and the person I’m ordering for is just next door in the motel. He really needs the food brought to him. He’s what you would call, incapacitated.”
I heard rustling on the other line as she hollered at her coworkers while I begged and pleaded with her. She stuttered before answering. “You rant derivery to New Jersey; no we no deriver to New Jersey…”
Then she heard my frustrations through the phone as she handed the receiver to another woman, this one who had a touch better grasp of the English language. I thoroughly explained to this new woman one more time exactly what I needed. She responded, “How many people is this food for?”
A weird question I thought, but I provided her an answer. “One,” I said.
I heard a gasp, then a call to her friends. She was back on the phone choking on her words trying to talk to me. “One person! Who eat like that? All this food no for one person, c’mon?”
I assured her that the call I was placing was downright serious, it was life- threatening if she wanted the truth of the matter. But, she didn’t want the truth of the matter. She wanted to hear what she wanted to hear. So, that’s what I gave her, a big fat lie.
I told her that her food was the most delicious food I’ve ever had even though I’d never eaten there in my life. I also told her that the man who was staying in room 34 at the Newport Motel loved her food as well, but that this particular gentlemen was just very old and couldn’t get around all that well. It was right after she heard the part about “the old man,” that she immediately said, “Okay, we deriver.”
I thought I was now home-free because the woman even said it wouldn’t be a problem to rattle off the old credit card number and just pay for it all over the phone. That is until she asked me, “But, who sign for it and reave tip?”
I humbly asked the woman if she could just sign the slip for me. She was floored at this. “I no sign for it, that’s irregal…”
“Yes, I know that,” I said. But I calmly told her that the man in room 34 didn’t read or write either, and that he would very much appreciate it if the food was just quietly dropped by the door after they knocked. The Chinese lady was bewildered. “Who is dis man I deriver to?” she asked me.
Since the credit card transaction went through and was already established I asked the woman if she liked scary movies. She said no. Then I told her that unless she wanted bad dreams until the next lunar New Year to just knock on room 34 and walk away. Then, this woman at the Chinese restaurant told me that this was the one and only time that she would grant me this favor and after that we were through. “You no call back here no more, this one time onry we make you food for you.” she said as she hung up the phone.
I thanked her very much for the unforgettable conversation and called Mark back with the good news. Now that a pile of Chinese food was on its way to his room I said goodbye for another day. That Sunday rolled into Monday and when I woke up Monday morning I found myself on an express-elevator to hell; everything was unraveling on me.
On top of the motel-fees I spent on Bigfoot on my wife’s credit card and without her knowing about it, I had a slew of other problems. There was no way on my return trip I would be able to borrow my mother’s van again. Steve Langford from the Howard Stern Show was pleading with me and urging me to call him back for an update so he could fill the country in on my extreme lack of progress. And then there was Bigfoot, leaving me messages that would’ve startled an axe-murderer. Asking me how long I intended to keep him locked up in a room with old food and moving floors. And that he wasn’t afraid to go ahead and try and kill himself one more time because he’d already tried countless times before. This was all on my plate before I even got out of bed that morning.
I walked around aimlessly for what seemed like all day calling only Steve Langford back and telling him that I planned on going to Vermont again sometime real soon. I don’t know who believed me less, me or him.
Later on that day I did what I did best, I got fucking annihilated. It was in that Monday afternoon drinking-bout that I made up my mind to push in all my chips and just go for broke. I would leave at midnight that night, on another trip of madness to the Canadian border.
Midnight, and I was sound a fuckin’ sleep. I never set my alarm to wake up because that just seemed absurd and overzealous. But, I did set the alarm for 2:30 a.m., and wouldn’t you know it, I actually woke up. My body felt like saltwater taffy during the mixing process as I crept past my wife’s sleeping head and began sneaking around the house in the dark preparing to leave. Once again, she had no clue about what was going down.
Everything was now set, or so I thought. This time I would be driving my car with the bad inspection sticker and traveling with one-hundred and seventy dollars of someone else’s money (my wife’s.)
Leaving that night I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse in my life. It was a combination of nerves, guilt, and about a gallon of Red Bull and vodka from the day before. I started puking every twenty minutes like clockwork, whether it was on the side of the road or in rest-stop-bathrooms. Soon, before I knew it, I was throwing up, shitting, and then passing out for five to ten minutes in my driver’s seat, while life carried on all around me and got ready to punch me awake. This too, started happening every twenty or so minutes while my stomach was coming apart like the Space Shuttle Challenger.
At dawn, I received a call from Steve Langford wanting to know if I indeed kept my drunken inebriated word and was on my way back up to Vermont to go rescue Bigfoot. I told Steve that I was on my way and that I felt like a dung-beetle minus the beetle. He could hear it in my voice how taxing this whole ordeal had become for me and like the stand-up-guy that he is, Steve hoped that I felt better and wished me well regarding what was to come. He also told me to call him as soon as I reached Bigfoot again. To the entire Howard Stern world I was now known as Saint Patrick, for my insanely kind deeds and the coincidental fact that this whole thing was going down on Saint Patrick’s Day.
At around 8 o’clock that morning my stomach started to settle in a bit and I began feeling a little better. But, like all soothing and relaxing moments in life, it didn’t last.
Nope, my own personal shit-cyclone that I whipped up started spiraling out of control when I received the first text messages from my wife telling me to keep on driving and to never come back. That message was followed shortly thereafter by an unexpected phone call from the Newport City Motel wanting to know where I was and if I was going to be there shortly to pick up my prize. Then, like always, they told me to hurry up because they didn’t want to have to call the authorities on Mark. They also told me, “By the way, no one has seen Mr. Bigfoot in days.” My stomach was now sicker than ever.
11:30 came and I’d been driving for nine straight hours. Now Mark “Bigfoot” Shaw was wide awake and calling me in tandem with the motel’s front office wondering when the hell I would be arriving.
I told Mark to calm the fuck down and to hold on and as for the motel employee I told her something much the same. I let her know it would be at least fifteen more minutes before I would be pulling into Newport. It turned out to be exactly fifteen minutes.
The following pages are not only the end of this story, but quite possibly also the end of my writing career, because of what I’m about to tell you. You’ve followed me through this entire journey, which I thank you for, but now its time to assume the crash- position.
It was bright and sunny out when I pulled into the Newport City Motel parking lot at 11:45 am. They started construction on the exterior of the motel the last time I was up four days prior and now the whole parking lot was covered in scaffolding and work-trucks. I got out of the car and started my walk across the lot. I looked over to my right and saw the harem of motel employees at the front desk looking out the window and pointing at me. I waved to them all, sadly, only one waved back. I then walked between ladders of the scaffolding and the painters who were standing above me and all the way up to room 34. This was it. But, I heard nothing as I stood in front of the door.
I knocked once, there was no answer. I knocked again and still nothing. I started wondering if we were looking at a fatality here. Then a guy about my age leaned down from a ladder and whispered, “Hey, man, I saw him this morning, he’s in there… he peeked his head out a few times just a little while ago.”
“Thanks,” I replied, as I got ready to knock again. I knocked. I heard noise. Then it was him. “Yeah, who the fuck is it, it is!” he hollered.
I pumped myself up and shifted gears into ‘go mode.’ “Mark, it’s me!” I hollered through the door. “It’s Pat, will you just open the fuckin’ door already!”
Then, all of a sudden, the door flew wide! It flew open and smacked the wall with such force that it startled me! But, there was no one in the doorway. The doorway was empty.
I peeked my head in and out and looked everywhere, even to my rear where I saw the guy on the ladder still watching in amazement. I got nervous. My voice wavered as I once more called for Mark.
“Mark,” I hesitantly yelled. “Are you in there?”
I took another breath and got ready to speak again when the air from inside the room wafted out and my eyes focused on what it was I was looking at. There was still no Bigfoot in the doorway, but there didn’t need to be, because I smelled and saw traces of him all over the room. I was just about to keel over and drop to a knee when from out of nowhere he appeared. Or shall I say, “It” appeared.
With a sudden burst of fury from some dark corner of the room, Mark walked out and stood in the door. Let me tell you something, if Jimmy Hoffa walked up and shook my hand while I was standing there, I would’ve been less surprised.
Standing in the doorway, right there for all the world to see and smell was a man who looked like he spent four days trapped in the bowels of a water treatment plant, splashing around in raw sewage. The painter behind me almost fell off his ladder when he saw what was confronting me.
Bigfoot must’ve had something against coming to the door clothed, because once more he was in only his underwear; however this time, there were a few modifications.
Mark was adorned head to toe, neck to face, and elbow to elbow with fresh yet dried, moist yet hardened, war-paint like fecal matter. It was in his long flowing salt and pepper locks and clumped up in his beard. His face could’ve been mistaken for that of an oil driller whose rig exploded out from under him. And his hands looked like he’d been making shit-snowballs since the moment I left.
But, the chart topping, eye popping, granddaddy of it all was the underwear we’d both purchased together only a few days before.
When I said choosing the wrong size of underwear would come back to haunt both Bigfoot and me I meant it. I figured since his name was Bigfoot, he probably needed and could greatly use size triple X underwear. The fact of the matter was these underwear I talked him into buying looked like a parachute hanging off the back of him – a type of underwear that should’ve come equipped with a step-in harness. The harness would have been necessary for one single reason, and it wasn’t gravity. It was for the five-pounds of raw shit he was carrying around that literally loaded down the back of his underwear and forced him to walk slightly hunched backwards. The real cherry on top was that from there most of what he was transporting around in his underwear was wedged secure and shoved in place up his ass, and totally solidified, cemented in.
The smell Bigfoot emitted was ungodly. It was so dastardly barbaric that the guy on the ladder behind me pretty much took off running for his life. It not only smelled of shit, but it smelled of old shit, and new shit, and shit that probably seeped out of his body while he was watching reruns of The Jeffersons or Night Court. But, what went along with this olfactory-driven-bedlam was that at this particular moment, Bigfoot was about as far off his meds and insane with dementia as he could possibly be. But, that didn’t cause him to forget that he was fucking furious with me.
“What, you don’t want to come in my room, it is!” he belted out standing there with broad daylight illuminating human feces everywhere. In the sunlight the shit all over him almost looked golden. “Will you get the fuck in here, it is!” he then barked “This ain’t a fuckin’ barn, it is!”
“No,” I thought to myself. “No, this definitely wasn’t a barn.” This was more like a slaughterhouse meeting an outhouse meeting the end of the world, and still one would be a little hard up for euphemisms. And then I stepped inside. And then he actually shut the door behind me. I took one breath and almost swallowed my tongue. I slowly looked around. What Bigfoot did to this motel room fifty chimpanzees on crystal-meth couldn’t have achieved in two weeks time, whether they flung shit at each other the entire time or not. Seriously, it was utterly insane.
To my right, what Bigfoot had done on his nightstand next to the bed was just shy of a masterpiece. Somehow, and for some inexplicable reason, he went about taking the thousands of pills of whatever that he had stuffed away in his travel-bag and he went about building a miniature true to scale model of Mount Everest with all its peaks and valleys. This fucking pile of pills must’ve been three feet high if it was an inch.
On the other nightstand was something that many may consider something far worse than human excrement out in the open. Remember the congealed milk that Bigfoot was taking down like he was using a funnel? Well, now the milk had congealed into a solid. It was like yellow and green and it moved every time Bigfoot walked near it; it almost looked like a lava lamp. What was next to that didn’t take the silver medal of grossness by much either. It was the Chinese food my wife and I bought him. My precious Chinese food that I put so much time and effort into getting for Bigfoot he just went medieval on.
Bigfoot was a savage eater, you know that already. He did to food what mortars do to bunkers, obliterate them. Within the two giant containers that held the wonton soup, Bigfoot decided to just dump the rest of the food in with it. So, now it was a lo- mein-soup garnished with a piece of General Tso’s chicken fused together and whirled into an oriental milkshake. If I were to bring this food back to the Chinese restaurant next door in the condition it was in they wouldn’t have even recognized it. The worst part was, he ate none of it.
Not to come across remedial, but what makes up most rooms, walls right? Bigfoot must’ve been possessed by the Marque de Sade or something because his walls were covered in, “shitfitti,” which is a combination of shit and graffiti. His markings were strange and almost assembled in some kind of random pattern. In some spots it looked like he just ran into the wall over and over again, underwear first. The once off-white room was now spackled in a nice touch of authentic doo doo-brown.
Soaking in this whole sight, I quickly realized I couldn’t stay in the room any longer without vomiting and giving the poor maid one more reason to quit her job. I was gagging and coughing and retching and basically letting Bigfoot know in a bad rendition of charades that I couldn’t last in there much longer.
Mark was out of it. I don’t know much about schizophrenics; well I do now, but back then I had no idea that when the meds aren’t flowing to the brain, the brain itself begins the process of melting down, Chernobyl style.
Mark was standing there in front of me, of course covered in shit, and spinning in circles screaming at himself and then screaming at me. Then he would scream at himself for screaming at me and repeat the process all over again. Then, he stopped the hysterics and looked at me.
He said, “I told you not to leave me here, it is… I don’t go near a bathroom, it is, unless there’s somebody there to guard the god damn door, it is! Now look at me! I’m gonna need to shower, it is, before we get in your car, it is!”
I thought about this abominable creature sitting in my passenger seat and immediately informed him that I needed to step outside for some air and contemplate the thought of ending my life.
When I at last hit the fresh air I almost dropped to my knees. The door shut behind me and I sprinted across the parking lot. I ran right into the motel office. I almost fell through the counter I was so out of breath and panting. Two of the ladies came out from the back and saw my state of alarm. “Can I help you,” the one apathetically asked.
I began explaining who I was but it seemed everyone already knew. I got right to the point. “I have a bit of a situation here,” I said. “It seems our friend in room 34 is gonna need a little extra time… he’s in bad shape right now.”
This, the older of the two ladies was all business. “Well, you either pay for another night, or, I’ll be forced to call the police. I’ll give you another twenty minutes,” she explained. “Even though, I’ve already given you almost two hours.”
I saw this lady wanted to play hard ball, and to tell you the truth I was good and ready to step up to the plate. “Look,” I said. “I have no responsibilities here whatsoever. If I can’t help this guy Bigfoot out in the next twenty minutes, then I’m fucking out of here, mam… I’m gone; I’m here trying to help you as much as I can, but remember, I have zero responsibilities here whatsoever.”
“You most certainly do have a responsibility here,” she proclaimed. “You’ve put him up here the last three nights, you’re involved.”
Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I do know a little bit about the law, and I stood there and thought for a second while this desk attendant glared back at me. I raised my eyes and said, “Mam, I hate to serve you a cold dish here but like I said, I have zero responsibilities.” And then I walked out the door.
Out in the parking lot I started pacing. I thought about what to do next and then it dawned on me, I’ll call Steve Langford from the Stern Show and ask him what to do.
Steve picked up the phone. “Patrick, what’s going on,” he asked.
I broke it to him. “Steve, I don’t know how to put this, man, but Bigfoot’s covered in fecal matter… like head to toe covered in shit. And he’s pretty much more insane right now than he might’ve ever been in his life.”
“Oh,” Steve replied. “Well, what are you gonna do?”
I reluctantly showed Steve a hint of my vulnerability and indecision. “Well, what do you think I should do, Steve?” I asked.
Steve explained to me very carefully where exactly he came into play. “Patrick, I’m a news reporter not a producer, I can’t really direct you on what to do because that would mean I’m affecting the news.”
It was a hard pill to swallow at a time like this but he was right. I dug this grave and now it was time for me to lie down and get buried. I told him I’d call him back shortly.
I headed back across the parking lot toward room 34. I couldn’t see all the eyes on me but I sure felt them. I reached the door, knocked for some unknown reason, and then entered.
This time Mark was coming out of the bathroom; disappointingly not after using any of the faucets and once again he went postal on me. “Where the fuck have you been, it is?! I thought you fuckin’ left me again, it is! Are you gonna get anything done for me so we can ever get out of here, it is?! They’re telling me the cops are coming if I don’t get out of here, it is! They’re coming right now, it is!”
If I snorted two monster lines of Noxzema-vapor-rub, I still wouldn’t have been able to neutralize the smell in this room. I grabbed a breath of the rotten air and tried to speak. “Mark, what do you want me to do? The only thing that needs to be done here is that you need to get into that shower.”
This was like throwing lemon juice onto a mountain lion that was covered in open wounds, Mark lost it. He walked over to the table and picked up a piece of paper. “Here!” he shouted. “This is my subscription to the scabies and bed bugs medicine, it is… you need to go get this subscription filled for me right now, it is… and come right back, cause they’re throwing me out of here, it is!”
I looked down to what Mark was handing me. It was a piece of paper covered in shit. I grabbed an end of it. I glanced up at him and said, “Mark, you have to get in the shower while I’m gone, we’re never gonna have time for all of this.”
It was like two retarded people trying to teach each other how to play Bridge. “How many times do I have to tell you, it is,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere near that shower unless there is someone here to guard the door for me, it is… there’s crazy people out there, it is!” All I thought to myself was where the fuck were the cameras right now?
Sitting in my car, I couldn’t stop staring at the shitty prescription that I placed immediately on the floor. Upon further reflection, I picked it up with a napkin and placed it directly in the trunk and then I got back in the car and thought some more. What the fuck was I going to do?
I started up the car and pulled out of the motel parking lot. The women in the front-office flocked to the window and within seconds I got a phone call. “Where are you going, Mr. McFadden? Is your guest ready to check out?”
I had about enough of these people, “I’m going to get Mr. Shaw’s scabies and bedbug medicine,” I told her. “And, I’m not paying for another night, so don’t even think about charging my card. When I get back there I will see if your guest is ready to go and if he’s not… remember, we’re dealing with an insane individual here, and I’m only up here because of some stupid fucking radio show, I have no responsibilities.” I then said goodbye and hung up.
I drove through town and arrived at the pharmacy and sat there. Then, I got out of the car and called Steve Langford again. I told him, “Steve, I don’t know if I can go through with this… I mean driving Bigfoot down to New Jersey right now would be like putting a wolverine with rabies in my passenger seat. You should see him right now, he’s completely out of control.”
Steve was disappointed, and to tell you the truth so was I, but he told me that he understood what had to be done and that I should call him when and if I ever reach my final decision. I felt myself nearing one.
For some reason I opened my trunk, grabbed the prescription covered in shit, and walked into the drugstore with it. I don’t know why I did it, because I’d already made up my mind to pull the plug on this whole operation. But, in retrospect, I think I really just wanted to hand someone else a prescription covered in feces and see their face. The lady behind the counter who grabbed the paper from me put her hand right on the shittiest part of the blue-faded pill-pass. I could see that she was a power-wielding-pharmaceutical-bitch that was way too busy giving everybody else orders to even notice her blunder. I’m sure she probably caught herself caught her mistake lunch, though, and if she didn’t, good for her.
When I walked outside I felt free. In my mind it was over, and I planned on letting the other bitches at the motel know exactly how I felt. I called them back. “I’m leaving,” I said. “I’m done here. You can do what you like to Bigfoot but I know my rights, and one of them is that I do not have to babysit a giant man with schizophrenia. No way, I’ll see you later.”
The motel employee heard me out and then explained that Bigfoot’s case worker had called and that he was standing in the motel lobby waiting for me. I told her to put him on the phone.
Bigfoot’s case-worker was a shrewd guy, and rightfully so. He’d been dealing with Bigfoot for so long that the fact that Bigfoot had defiled a motel room to the point of condemnation didn’t even phase him. Telling him who I was, I knew immediately that he thought I was somewhat of a shallow guy, but after I described everything I’d done for Mark in the past four days in full detail, he thought I was more insane than Mark.
When I was finished speaking with the case-worker he put the motel’s manager back on. She informed me that I had to go and at least tell Bigfoot that I was finished with him and then I could leave without her involving the authorities. I told her, “Fine.”
I raced back to the motel and ran up to room 34 for what would be the last time.
I knocked on the door and walked in. If there was any chance it could’ve gotten worse it did. What was left of the man was coming apart at the seams. He asked where his medicine was and I told him it was still at the pharmacy. He couldn’t comprehend that the drugstore wasn’t like fast food. So, instead of making a crazy man crazier and telling him farewell and that I was I done with him, I simply said, “Mark, I gotta go make one last phone call before we get on the road.” And within those ten minutes, I was out the door and back on the highway doing 400 mph and heading for New Jersey, free as a fucking bird.
I expected nothing more than my phone melting from Mark calling it to see what happened to me, but there was no sounds in my car but silence. Then, about a half hour into my panicked flight, a Vermont number came up on my phone that I didn’t recognize. I dialed my machine and listened for a message. It was the Newport City police! I immediately pulled over at the nearest rest stop and called the police back.
A young male officer answered.
I identified myself, “Hi, sir,” I said. “This is Patrick McFadden, you just left a message on my machine concerning a Mark Shaw, I just wanted to call and clear up any questions you might have.”
The officer was appreciative but stern. He was just about to speak when through the phone I heard the unthinkable. It was Bigfoot, going Sasquatch on the cops. It was like watching reality TV through the phone. Bigfoot was going berserk, one-hundred and ten percent.
I forget what the cops were saying word for word to Mark on the other end of the phone, but it was something like, “Whoa big fellow, we’re not here to corner ya, just take your shitty self back into that room and wait for our instructions.”
For a second I felt like Bambi losing his mother. I felt like I left Mark there to get surrounded, netted, and killed. And that because of me, Bigfoot losing his mind and playing with feces like Play Dough for four straight days in a motel room was all my fault. But, I snapped myself out of it and prepared to talk to the officer.
“Sir,” I said. “Being that you’re a police officer I’m going to tell you the entire unabridged version of this story so there’s absolutely no misunderstandings here.”
“Okay,” he said.
And so I did. I stood there under a clear blue sky next to a scenic and empty highway and told the officer about the very first call I ever made to the Howard Stern Show and how this whole conglomerated hunk of madness got itself rolling. I told him about my wife’s credit card and how she secretly paid for Bigfoot’s motel stay and that I’d driven up twice from New Jersey in less than a week and running out of gas once on the way home.
Every so often the officer would interrupt me, usually when he heard me talking about how stupid I was, and he would routinely say, “You did what?”
For twenty plus minutes I stood there enlightening the officer on scabies and the detriments of wearing underwear way too big for you. Every once in a while our conversation would be interrupted due to Bigfoot’s consistent haymaking in the background. From the noises it sounded like the door to room 34 was now wide open and everyone within earshot came to see a half naked man covered in shit running amok. The officer couldn’t stop laughing at certain points of the story and like clockwork he would ask me to hold on as he instructed his colleagues on what their next move should be with Bigfoot. They too both came to the conclusion that there was only one move to make. And that was to get the man into a shower. But, he just wasn’t budging, at all. I don’t know why he wasn’t budging, because his wish had finally come true and now he had real live police officers there to guard the bathroom door while he hosed all the shit off himself.
I concluded my conversation with the officer and told him that the phone number I was calling from I could be reached at anytime. He thanked me for my cooperation and for the abundance of help I tried providing to an ailing man, but as I was hanging up with him I felt my heart ache with pity.
Just as I went to say goodbye and hang up the phone, from out of the earpiece of the phone, I heard Bigfoot in what sounded to be like in his death throes. There weren’t even words coming out of his mouth anymore, it was just deafening wails. The officer informed me that he had to get going in order to control the worsening situation and from there we ended the call. And in terms of the legendary Bigfoot, Mark Shaw, my time with him was officially over. I got back in my car and drove off into the coming night.
When I got home it was after midnight and surprisingly my wife was happy to see me. I’m thinking the reason she was so overjoyed was because I walked in the door without my new friend, and because I told her it was all over. As usual I was totally wrong.
The very next morning my wife got a wild hair up her ass and decided to call the bank, namely because everything I was telling her just wasn’t adding up. Within fifteen minutes, two slaps across the face, and endless screaming and carrying on she was out the door and over at her friend’s house threatening divorce, burglary charges, and murder while I slept, followed by castration. And wouldn’t you know it, as the strangeness of this life cannot be realized, the topic of my marriage became front page news to the world of Howard Stern. The topic so smoothly shifted from how I was going to save Bigfoot, to now more importantly how I was going to save myself and my marriage. Relatives and friends from years ago who didn’t even know I was married were now finding my phone number and calling me to see if it was true and that I was really getting divorced. My drinking grew worse than ever.
It took about a good week for my wife to get over it all and tell me that nearly everything had been forgiven. It turned out, it was the little things that upset her more than the money and also of course that a certifiable lunatic was close to living with us. She despised all my sneaking around, especially when I got out of bed and tiptoed past her sleeping head without even telling her once that I was driving back to Vermont.
But the infraction that really took the cake. The one that really pissed her off to no end, was that when I was finally so sick and tired of Bigfoot still calling my phone and bothering me, that I went ahead and told him to simply call my wife and start bothering her. I have no idea why I did that, but Bigfoot must’ve called her fifteen times the first day alone. And his messages to her made less sense than the one’s he left to me. Let’s just say, she was fuckin’ hating me.
Like all things my run at the top of the Howard Stern headlines eventually fizzled out and came to an end. Steve and I talked less and less as March turned into April and now every once in a while we might trade an email just to share news of Bigfoot.
After my wife officially came back and we reconciled, we took a trip to Hawaii to visit her sister. Guess who called every other day while we were lying on the beach to tell us about life in Vermont and what the heat index was in the hospital room was he was staying at. He would always be sure to ask if I could lower the thermostat for him too, wherever he was at. To Mark, I think thermostats are like the internet, universal.
However, contrary to all of this, Bigfoot was still quite mad at me for two reasons.
The first was the obvious one, because I left him high and dry covered in shit surrounded by cops in broad daylight with tons of people watching.
The second reason, and the more remissed of the two, concerned my speedy panicked flight from Vermont that fateful day, and the inability of me to check my pockets before leaving.
When I handed over the scabies prescription covered in shit to the pharmacist I’d completely forgotten that Bigfoot gave me his Medicaid card to give to her as well.
It didn’t matter that the ragged torn card expired in 1988 and that it was worthless, useless, and one paper fold away from turning into dust. He just wanted me to give it to the pharmacist anyway. But I didn’t, I forgot.
Bigfoot’s Medicaid card sat in my pocket for weeks and to tell you the truth I had no idea what Bigfoot was ranting and raving about every time he called to discuss it.
Then one morning after a few years, while my wife was doing laundry she found the old Medicaid card and showed it to me. To this day, after trying to mail it back to him unsuccessfully, the card sits in the top drawer of my dresser. Every so often when I file past it looking for something else I can’t help but think of that one unforgettable month I spent locked and loaded in the life of the Bigfoot, Mr. Mark Shaw.
*After four years, my wife still has Bigfoot’s number…
-Coming this November from Patrick McFadden Jr. and Library Tales Publishing, a travel memoir that comes equipped with defibrillators in lieu of the reader possibly keeling over from laughter. Check out: The Mile-Marker Party: one young man’s inebriated struggle to pedal across a continent and find his way home.
<a href=”http://www.hypersmash.com”>Hyper Smash</a>