‘Innsmouth Gold’ by David A Sutton
Talman gave me a sceptical look. It wasn’t that he thought I was crazy, but maybe just a little nuts.
‘Well, George,’ he said at last, ‘I think you’ve been drinking too much of that sour mash in the Kentucky sun!’ I had been living south of the line for five years, that part was certainly true. As for the whisky, I didn’t touch the stuff. Talman and I had been firm friends for around twenty years, a long relationship established through our mutual love of North American wildlife. We’d completed several expeditions together over the years on mainland America, and also once into the forested wilds of northern Canada. Eventually, my teaching commitments had meant a move of home, but luckily, or unluckily, as things worked out, half a decade on had found me back in my beloved Boston. The downside of that was I had no job and very little money.
We were sitting in the open basement of a bar near Charles Street in the Back Bay area, sipping cold beers. It was October, but the weather was mild and cloudy. The trees lining the sidewalk were beginning to transform themselves into fiery crowned beacons of the season. I nodded to my companion, smiling. He was beginning to show his mid-forties age now with a greying hair line. Ignoring his quip about the bourbon I said, ‘Fred, do you remember the old days? We’d take off for the hills at the drop of a hat. At the merest sniff of something rare and interesting, with little more than fourth-hand evidence that we’d ever get to see the critter.’ I was, to put it mildly, selling my story.
‘Agreed,’ he replied. ‘We sure would race off in our younger days. But, you know, George, there ain’t never been any glutton’s seen in New England. North of the Hudson Bay, or Labrador maybe, but not this far south. Those animals are rare.’
He used the common name for the animal we had been discussing – the wolverine. And he was right, it was extremely uncommon and certainly not to be seen in Massachusetts. However, I was angling for some excuse to pay a visit to the wooded coast around Newburyport. So I pushed again: ‘I have it on good authority that wolverines have been seen around the state border with New Hampshire and I’d like to make this field trip if—’
* * * *