I'd known Pritchard all my life. My father died while my mother was pregnant with me, and soon after was when Pritchard moved in. He wasn't my mother's boyfriend or lover. He was just a guy who rented a room and missed the bowl constantly when he urinated. He was supposed to have moved in just until he got back on his feet, as they say, but he never left.

It was during my teenage years that I first began to ask legitimate questions about Pritchard. What was the real relationship between him and my mother? Who would rent a room to a man who constantly missed the bowl for forty years? She never even spoke to him about it. There had to be more to their relationship than just my mother renting a room to him.

My friend Terry had a troglodyte living in his basement when we were in public school. His father had applied for and received an easement on their property, but the caveat was that he had to allow this troglodyte to live in his basement. My father considered that to be a fair trade, but Terry liked to sniff glue in the basement. As you can imagine, things got pretty weird.

You may be thinking at this point, "What does Pritchard have to do with the troglodyte?" You might also be wondering if it was an actual troglodyte from the earth's core or if this is just a descriptive phrase for someone being ridiculed for their appearance. I assure you, I do not know.

Let me also briefly introduce you to Sheriff Manheim, the sheriff of Bone County. He is a cranky type of man who has a secret treasure trove of Nazi memorabilia in a room of his house. This room has a high security door on it with a specially coded lock and a guy with a machine gun standing in front of it. There is also generally an open window in the room that you can crawl through if you want to avoid dealing with all that.

It would not be long before Sheriff Manheim learned of the troglodyte living in the basement of Terry's house. Now, why wouldn't the sheriff have been told about the deal regarding the easement by county authorities? They just plain didn't like Sheriff Manheim, due to his rumored ties to the Nazi party. There were also rumors that he was behind the rash of shootings of Black and Jewish teens in Bone County. However, since he is the only legal authority in Bone County, as provided in our charter, he has never authorized an investigation of himself and there is nothing anyone can do about that.

On one particular Thursday, when I was in the ninth grade, I got an unexplained erection in gym class. There was no reason for it. I wasn't imagining sexual matters of any kind and I was playing basketball with others of my gender. I'm quite certain that I'm straight, so I have no idea what was going on there. But, inevitably, my gym teacher called Sheriff Manheim and reported the incident.

I was hauled out of my seventh period French class in handcuffs by Sheriff Manheim. He brought me to his headquarters, a forty-two room, three-hundred acre estate on the western edge of Bone County. There, he unlocked my handcuffs and had one of his Asian serving girls bring me a light lunch and a delicious cocktail that he called "Dresden." We talked for a while about the dangers of having erections in gym class, he gave me a spray that supposedly makes unwanted erections go down (although I think it was Bianca Blast breath spray with the label scratched off), and drove me home. He went inside, told my mother about what happened, and asked her to teach me about the birds and the bees. He then told her and my stepfather to encourage me to masturbate frequently by not making it a shameful activity and providing me with the privacy I needed to do so. It was embarrassing.

Things were about to come to a head because Pritchard, the troglodyte, and Sheriff Manheim were on a collision course.

You may ask yourself at this point how I am involved in all that, aside from getting an erection in gym class and being encouraged to masturbate by my mother (which was extremely weird and likely affected my emotional development). You would be right to ask such a question.

I was very impressionable at that time, as are most in that age category. I was troubled by the constant presence of Pritchard in my life, with his disregard for my mother's request that he allow me private time to masturbate, and the fact that he would frequently walk in on me. Even when I got a lock for my bedroom door, he jimmied it and came in any way. He wanted to talk about something he'd seen on the news involving a synogogue that had been burned down on the other side of Bone County. Someone had used a Panzer tank to knock trees across the roads leading to the synogogue and no one could figure out who was behind it. Sheriff Manheim investigated for six months and it is still an open case.

Because Pritchard kept walking in on me when I was masturbating and killing the mood, I continued to get erections in gym class. Sheriff Manheim came and collected me again. He told me he wasn't going to go easy on me this time. He was locking me up for seventy-two hours and was having me added to the sex offender registry. I was scared and practically naked. It likely impacted my emotional development. No matter who my sex partner has been over the years, I still feel terribly ashamed of getting aroused, so I usually just do oral and then take a lot of pills. I've tried the spray. It doesn't work. That is part of why I believe it is just a Bianca Blast with the label scraped off. The other reason is that it smells like breath freshener and there is a lot of knife scraping where the label used to be.

The Bone County Board of Supervisors gives out merit-based scholarships every year to deserving white high school students. My parents had challenged me to earn one of those scholarships once I got to high school. However, every time I got down to studying, Pritchard would barge into my room to show me something crafty he'd made. I never ended up earning that scholarship.

Sheriff Manheim had some poker buddies who played cards with him every Sunday night. They came in from Lynchum County and they were mean looking, with the exception of the man they called "the professor." He was an elderly man with spectacles and a swastika tattoo on his neck. I saw them during my week in lockup. I watched them play cards.

Bone County has long nursed rumors that there is a "lizard man" living down by the town swamp. Most people dismiss it as an urban legend or the product of someone's drunken nightmare. During the card game, I overheard something that offered a different explanation. The professor was trying to build human-animal hybrids to be part of some kind of army that Sheriff Manheim and his poker buddies were apparently funding. I kept this a secret for many years because I was ashamed. I was ashamed because they asked me to chip in and I gave them the ten bucks I had in my pocket for buying candy and gum.

Their one success had been a cross-breeding of an alligator and a human baby. This was how the "lizard man" was created, but they called him John Parker.

After I graduated high school with a very low grade point average on account of Pritchard's constant interruptions, I didn't start working at the county's Amazon warehouse right away. The first thing I did was get drunk. The second thing I did was apply for a job at the Bone County Board of Supervisors as a file clerk. When they offered me the job over the phone, I got an erection but was unable to do anything about it because Pritchard was there the whole time.

It was at this job that I decided to look up the name John Parker. There were two living in Bone County, so I went to investigate. One was an elderly man with dementia who died while I was talking to him. The second had a house with an address that was right in the middle of the town swamp. That had to be the lizard man, but there was no way I was going there to confront him on my own. I needed backup.

I talked to my friend Terry, who was my only friend in high school due to people remembering my gym class erections and not wanting to have anything to do with me on account of it. This was in addition to me being put on the sex offenders registry, which resulted in a lot of protests in front of my house that embarrassed my mother greatly. She never recovered and died of a stroke when she was 52. All because of Pritchard, who was still living in my house with no explanation for why my mother and stepfather tolerated him. He apparently never paid any rent because on my stepfather's deathbed, after he was stabbed to death by Pritchard when I was fucking up my first marriage, he told me that Pritchard just showed up one day and moved in. They were uncomfortable with confronting him and asking him to leave, so he just sort of stayed.

Pritchard, who had listened in on my phone call with Terry, since he always listened in on my family's calls via an extension he kept in his room, approached me with an offer. This was before he stabbed my stepfather. That was years later, but for a short time, Pritchard became my ally.

"Lemme come with you to confront this lizard man."


"I have skills that may be of use to you in the town swamp. I grew up in an environment with soupy air and a lot of stagnant pools of water everywhere. Lemme come with you."

"What other skills do you have?"

"I have the ability to show up in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"How is that any use to me?"

"Well, I have stunted your emotional growth, haven't I?"

"That's for damn sure," I said before high-fiving him. We were going to make a great team.

Terry had originally declined my offer to have him come with me on the search for the lizard man, but as Pritchard and I were getting into the stolen hotel courtesy van he'd been driving for six years, he showed up with the troglodyte. They wanted to help. It was one of those moments you see in movies and television shows where they call on someone to help, that person initially turns them down in strong tones, and then shows up just in the nick of time to provide propellant for the narrative.

I got a monster of an erection on the drive out to the town swamp and asked Pritchard to pull over at a rest area. They had a masturbation station there, which is something that the Bone County Board of Supervisors introduced to cut down on the number of people who were masturbating in rest rooms. It is a private chamber with a locking door, and I utilized it to take care of my urgent needs. I was a teenager at the time, after all.

I was halfway through when I heard a drilling sound. Pritchard used an electric drill to remove the lock to the masturbation station and came right in.

"We have to get going. It is going to be dark soon."

He had a point. We had matters to attend to and I was delaying the affair with my unnatural level of general horniness.

I wrapped things up at that point, which wasn't easy since I'd been edging the fuck out of myself for ten minutes at that point, but I got back into the stolen courtesy van and we got to the town swamp with a couple hours of daylight remaining. We hoped it would be enough time.

There was a creepy old man named Steve who rented skiffs that you could take out into the town swamp to do a bit of exploring and sight-seeing. He's the kind of guy who calls everyone "sumbitches." We were all called that a number of times during negotiations, but we got a great deal on a four-seat pontoon boat that he claimed was used in Vietnam during the war but it obviously wasn't that at all. It had baby ducks painted on the side.

We headed out into the swamp on our pontoon boat, which had a gas-powered engine that kept conking out on us, but we were able to get it going each time by slapping it hard on the side. The next cheapest skiff for rent was out of our price range, as we had set a very specific budget for this mission and were loathe to go outside of that budget, even in an emergency. This didn't constitute an emergency. This was mostly just whimsical, even though there were serious matters involved. An alligator with a baby's head grafted onto it is nothing to joke about.

I don't know how big the town swamp is where you live, but ours is fairly expansive. It was going to take a while to explore it all and we doubted that the alligator man (not sure we can legally call him that but I'm going to anyway) would just pop up to greet us. Terry had brought a wrestling magazine to read. He was a big fan of Hulk Hogan, who hadn't sullied his reputation at that point and was still regarded as wholesome. Terry has always been drawn to strong, wholesome men, so it made perfect sense for him to become part of that particular fandom.

About an hour into our ride through the swamp, we sighted a large wooden building. It looked to be a hundred years old, made of clapboards slapped together in an almost haphazard fashion. There was a buzzing neon sign that read "Uncle Ron's White People Club." We found this to be a bit unusual and sought to avoid the place, but a strong swampy current took us right towards it and into a docking bay underneath the building, which was propped up on heavy timbers above the swamp.

We docked and were met by three large men in hip waders who used a pole to bring our skiff into the docking bay. They asked if we were members. We told them that we weren't and they handed us some postcard-sized membership applications that mostly focused on our ethnic heritage. We were more than delighted to fill them out and were then ushered into the lobby of Uncle Ron's.

There was a crawfish boil going on and we were able to enjoy some of that, along with plenty of brewskies and interesting conversations with people who were proud to be caucasian. All in all it was a positive experience, but we were looking for information on the lizard man. That was the thrust of our mission and we were not going to be sidetracked with interesting stories about notable white people from history and their contributions to America.

We waited until people were really drunk and then began casually asking questions designed to get us information on the lizard man. Where was his lair? Who were his people, if any? What was the best way to approach him?

"That dude is secretive. He shows up at the worst possible times, usually while you are masturbating," we were told by one man.

Some connections were being made in my mind. The puzzle was starting to come together.

Sheriff Manheim showed up at that point, being both a customer and an investor in Uncle Ron's. He was there with some of his henchmen.

"That's the kid who gets a lot of erections," Manheim told them.

"Let's get 'em!"

And then I was hit in the head with something heavy. When I woke up, I was in a psychiatric hospital. The only way for me to leave was to tell them that I made up everything about Pritchard, the lizard man, and Sheriff Manheim. I was then interviewed by a couple of federal marshalls and put into a witness protection program. And there I stayed for the next ten years, got married, and eventually came home.

Nothing had changed.

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