Not only did Barney and Rat work in the same department, but the two Airmen were also housemates, living off base. Between the two of them, Barney had the only working car, a 1972 Nova.
After a 14 hour day, Barney was behind the wheel, pushing down the gas pedal, flying through the long loping curve. Ahead was a slight rise in the road before it straightened out the final three miles before home.
Barney fairly flew over the rise, but it was too late. The man, caught in the headlights, went careening over the top of the car with a heavy thump.
The tires squealed, and the car fish-tailed and bucked as Barney pumped the brakes before coasting it to the side of the road. Even before it had stopped, both were out and were looking back at where the man had been standing.
The night laid across the road and the grassy field to either side, so they could not see where the man might be. Rat ran back to the top of the rise as Barney made a quick U-turn in the two-lane road to get some light on the area.
As Rat walked up and down the side of the road, Barney drove beyond where he was sure he had hit the man. But neither one could find him.
After another pass, they drove to their trailer house to call 9-1-1. The dispatcher routed the call to the Sheriff’s Department.
“Can you meet the deputies there?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yes,” Barney answered. “We’ll be there in less than five minutes.”
Shortly after they arrived, two sheriff vehicles pulled onto the side of the road. The first order of business was to have Barney and Rat fill out an incident report as the deputies searched the roadway and the grassy gully on either side of the road.
“You sure it was a man and not a deer or something?” the older deputy asked.
“No,” Barney answered, “I looked him in eyes. It was a man.”
“Well,” the younger deputy said, “We can’t find anything.”
“Then how do you explain the damage to the car?” Rat asked.
“We can’t,” stated the older deputy.
He walked over to his unit and pulled the microphone to his mouth, and said, “We need more help out here, can you activate SAR?”
“10-4,” came the reply.
Within half-an-hour, the first of the search-and-rescue team arrived on the scene, bringing floodlights and dogs. Before long, they were trotting the K-9’s up and down the roadside.
To the west, they found a trail in the grass beyond the barbed-wire fence. The flattened grass led to some volcanic rocks, and it was there the dogs either refused to go any further or lost the scent of whatever they’d been tracking.
The search for the man continued for another two hours after sunrise before it was called off. However, nothing was found other than a patch of blood on the asphalt where the two men said it happened.
Still, in uniform, Barney and Rat returned to the base and to work.
It wouldn’t be until that weekend when the two were sitting outside their trailer, enjoying the sunshine and cold beer, that they would strike up a conversation with the elderly neighbor lady. She quietly listened to their tale.
“You know,” she started, “I’ve lived here all my life and not always so close to the city. Tell you this, there are more things in the wilderness than meet the eye.”
“What does that mean?” Rat asked her.
“It means you might have hit a man, but the Googliwooglie made off with the body, thinking it was fresh roadkill,” she said with a straight face.
“A Googli…” Barney started.
“…wooglie,” she interrupted. “Not an ‘a,’ but a ‘the.’ It’s a Bigfoot-like creature and he’s been seen many-a-time in the Buffalo Ridge area.”
Over time, and with no one reported missing or a body ever found, the incident was relegated to the cold case file.