‘Well, son, this is it.’
Hugo stared at his father with enough force that he thought the older man looked as though he was going to back down for a moment. His chest itched, but he couldn’t scratch it: the giant hairy paws that were covering his hands prevented that. The thick, worn material that the costume was made out of rubbed over his sensitive skin every time he moved, and he wished that he could go back in time to that morning so he could put on some better underwear.
‘Dad,’ he said, when it became apparent that his death glare was being ignored, ‘you can’t be serious.’
His dad’s face did not change. There was not a hint of a smile on the older man’s face, no suggestion that this was anything other than entirely serious. The longer than Hugo stared, however, the more he thought that he could see some kind of relief, perhaps relief that he was passing the responsibility for this silly tradition onto his son.
‘Of course I’m serious, Hugo,’ the man replied. ‘I did this, just like my father did before me, and his father did before him.’
‘Yes, yes dad, like you said, it’s a family tradition, I get that. But don’t you think it’s a little … well …’
His dad waited for him to respond for a moment.
‘Well … silly, really. Don’t you think?’
His father’s face lit up for the first time since he had presented Hugo with the costume. ‘Why, son, of course it’s silly,’ he said.
‘Then why should I do it?’
‘Because it makes people happy, of course.’
Hugo frowned. He wasn’t sure whether he agreed. ‘But there are some people,’ he said slowly, thinking over his words carefully, ‘who genuinely believe in this stuff. Aren’t there? I mean, doesn’t it seem like we’re … mocking them a bit by doing this?’
‘Mocking them? Oh, no, no, son, we’re not mocking them, no. We’re just … adding a bit more magic to the world, that’s all.’
‘Okay.’ Hugo found he could accept that much. ‘It’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?’ he asked. His father laughed.
‘Do you have any other excuses?’
Hugo shook his head. ‘No. None.’
‘All right then. Put that mask on, get out there, and start walking around. Don’t get too close to the paths, now. Anyone comes near you, you turn and walk away. Let ’em take pictures from a distance. And try to look like you’re majestic.’
Hugo lifted the huge, heavy mask over his head and stepped out of the cabin, wondering how he could possibly pull off looking majestic when his costume weighed him down.
He sighed to himself, then started walked.
Bigfoot was out tonight.