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hs95150.jpgbuy prints of select halfsquatch photographs at etsy or dawanda. (prints of all photographs are available upon request) day 95

“Miss Winter, it says here that you are a journalist for the Whitehorse Reporter.”

“Former journalist,” Paula corrected the judge. “I quit to pursue other opportunities.” It was Paula who wrote Devin’s Diary on halfsquatch.com.

“I see. And what is your interest in this case?”

“I believe it would be a great injustice if Rebecca Richman were to be granted custody of the Lady Sasquatch,” Paula read from a statement she’d prepared. “I have witnessed her erratic behaviour on several occasions and question her motivation in pursuing this case. She’s a teenager and, in my opinion, a very unstable one. Mr. Thompson, on the other hand, is a respected citizen and has shown that he’s committed to sharing his good fortune by permitting public access to the Lady Sasquatch. I believe that it is in the best interest of the community that the Lady Sasquatch remain in his hands.”

Tucky Thompson let out a whoop, which was promptly silenced by his lawyer. Then it was Stew’s turn to speak. “I think Tucky should keep the Lady S. because it’s awesome.”

Andrea Thompson stood up for her husband, as did several Sasquatch hunters and a couple of city councilmen. The message was plain: the Lady Sasquatch belonged with The People and Tucky Thompson was respecting the wishes of The People. Nobody knew what Rebecca would do. Tucky was a sure thing. Think of the tourism dollars the city will be sacrificing if the Lady Sasquatch is removed from Mr. Thompson’s care. Plus, his lawyer added, he had a valid big game hunting license at the time of the kill.

Bob Richman asked Jeremy if he’d support Rebecca’s claim at the hearing, but he’d declined. It wouldn’t be ethical, he said. Jeremy had been cutting out of the office and spending sessions with Bob every afternoon, compiling his story, asking questions. It would make an impressive newspaper series, if not a book. The thought made him tingle and for a moment he imagined awards, the New York Times bestseller list, serious recognition. But when it was announced that Rebecca would be next to address the judge, Jeremy snapped out of his fantasy and back into the courtroom.

He took notes as Rebecca stood. Across the room, he saw Dave Thompson sit upright; he’d spent the morning so far slumped and sulking, glowering at his parents.

Rebecca kept her head down as she read off a piece of loose-leaf paper. Her hands jittered and her voice was shaky. Bob Richman cried silently as Rebecca described to the judge the pain she’d endured growing up. She talked about the taunting and the jokes. Worse than being an outcast, she said, was feeling incomplete. And while she didn’t have the chance to know her mother when she was alive, she was determined not to see her further disparaged and her memory tarnished. This was about respect and dignity and about family, Rebecca explained, not about tourism dollars. “Helene is my mother, not a circus attraction.”

Jeremy watched Bob wipe his eyes with a tissue. Tucky saw this too. “Fuckin’ pussy,” he said under his breath.

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