Screamin’ Black Panther
This past weekend, we finished the run of my original play HAINT’ED: TRUE ALABAMA GHOST STORIES. I’m pleased to say that it was a success. Attendance was good and audiences seemed to really dig it. It is my most personal play, as it features stories that I was told by my grandparents when I was a little boy. With the exception of a couple of folktales, which are “true” in a different sense, the majority of the stories actually happened to my grandparents and were delivered to me first-person. One such story involved the night my grandfather encountered a genuine Alabama screamin’ black panther.
Any wildlife expert will tell you that black panthers in the wild in North America don’t exist. And any one of hundreds of witnesses will tell you that the experts are dead wrong. Here’s why the experts are doubters: “panther” is a catch-all term, designating any one of a number of large cats. A “panther” is not a specific species. A leopard is a panther, as is a jaguar, as is a cougar. Black leopards and black jaguars are not uncommon. But neither leopards nor jaguars live in the wild in the US. And the odds of a melanistic (solid black) cougar existing are millions to one against. That’s why the experts say they don’t exist. Even though they do.
My grandfather was a young man, walking home from town late one night. They lived out in the country, and there were no streetlights. There was no electricity, for that matter. All the roads were dirt and gravel, and trees grew right up to the roadsides. My grandfather came abreast of one large tree, and that’s when the panther screamed at him. He spun around to see it out on a limb, eyes glowing like coals of fire, its pelt black as sin. He was carrying a torch that night, and he credits the torch with saving his life. He figured that was why the panther hadn’t attacked. He backed away from it, waving the torch, keeping a careful eye on the panther. When he felt like he was far enough away to risk turning his back, he turned and ran all the way home.
ABCs–Alien Big Cats–are not a recent phenomenon.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!