Moseying: Living La Vida Llanero
El bultos ghost stories
July 10, 2002
If you go daytripping around the countryside, sooner or later car trouble is going to happen. Back a few years ago, it happened to me. I was alone, hurrying home late at night. I had just gone through Imperial and was nearing the Pecos River Bridge. My front right tire blew and I spun out of control, ending up unconscious in the ditch when my head slammed against the side window.
Some time later, a tall man wearing a black sombrero shook me awake where I lay stretched out on the ground. Around his shoulders was a black cape. His shirt, trousers and shoes were also black.
My name is Choche, but people call me El Bulto. I was dazed and did not respond immediately. El Bulto stared intently into my eyes. The strangeness of the situation made me close my eyes and roll away from him as I slowly and laboriously made it to my hands and knees. A spasm of nausea clenched my belly, and I struggled to keep from vomiting. After a minute I got to my feet.
You need to rest. Here lean against your truck. He slipped his hand under my arm and half pulled me to the truck and then, with a little push, propped me on the open tailgate. I wondered why it was down, and simultaneously became aware that the spot where El Bulto had gripped me was now icy cold. I looked at his cape and saw that the clasp was a skull.
While you rest, I will tell you a story. I had no strength and kept my head bowed, pretending not to hear him. My house is the old sutlery at Fort Stockton. The hair on my neck stood up and I shivered the old sutlery is a Texas historic landmark. Nowadays, a fence surrounds it and a shed-like roof protects the old adobe from rain. A number of victims of the influenza epidemic of 1918 died in the building, which then served as a makeshift hospital.
He laughed. Oh, so you know you have entered a different world. You are wondering if you are dead, arent you? I tried to get to my feet again, but I could not. You are in-between, in a world invented by the fears of human-kind. Lets go for a little tour Suddenly we were flying through the air. I am a brujo, as you can tell. You like to tell stories, hijo, so listen and watch. There are cuentos that have been forgotten. We flew as fast as a jet airplane.
Zooming north, we quickly soared over the shortgrass prairies of Ector County and Gaines County, and then swooped low near Plains. We slowed when El Bulto caught sight of the singular figure of a woman in a long dress, apron, shawl and bonnet. She stumbled along a rutted wagon trail. As we neared we heard her quiet sobbing.
She died along the trail. Her husband was one of the first ranchers of the area. She was buried and her marker has been long lost, but she still walks here, crying and saying, Wait up, Johnny, I will feel better in the morning, I will be okay. Bobby and Susie, wait for your mother wait!
In a flash, a blizzard blew up, although I could not feel the cold. We came upon a cowboy and his horse, both dead, sweat-ice encasing them both. As we watched, the spirits of the cowboy and horse arose and began galloping again. His spirit made it to the next ranch, and knocked on the door. He told the neighbors that his wife was having a baby, so they saddled up and reached her in time to save her from complications of a breech birth. But as they rode, the spirit figures lagged behind and vanished. Their story is rarely told anymore. People should remember his valiant ride.
We are coming up on Stampede Mesa now, in White River Canyon, southeast of Lubbock. Ah see the stampede? A thousand steers were running, and every one of them plunged off the mountain. A nester (or squatter who claimed land he that did not belong to him) drove his cows into this herd and asked the cattle drover to add them to the herd. The drover refused, and that night the nester caused this stampede. But watch... Along came a man with hands tied behind his back, riding a blindfolded horse. We could hear his screams as he followed the herd over the cliff. The next morning the drover exacted a tough and sure justice, wouldnt you say. El Bulto cackled as we swung high into the sky again.
This is Tule Canyon. A light mist fell around us, creating swirls of fog. Look here; see the white glow in this valley? Every time it rains here the ground glows. This is where Colonel Mackenzie killed the Comanche horses after the defeat that convinced Quanah Parker that his only choice was going to the reservation. Horses were wealth to the Comanche, and when Mackenzie killed them by the thousands, it demoralized them completely. The horse bones were hauled off for fertilizer a few years later, but the memory still lives in the ghosts of the slain warriors, so this is some of their magic.
I had been shivering since we saw the woman, and now I began to shake with abandon. I do not believe in ghosts and this experience was becoming overwhelming. I began to cry in deep heaving sobs.
I have dozens more stories, hijo, dont you want to learn them? Ah, pobrecito, you are so sad. Que lástima! We began flying again, faster and faster, swooping high and low. El Bulto cackled as I began screaming. He plunged into a steep dive, until we were coming straight down at lightning speed.
Burr! Burr! Wake up! Youre scaring me! Wake up! Deborah was shaking me hard and yelling, her face an inch from mine. Youre drenched in sweat you have been having a horrible dream! When my breathing slowed and I could see the gentle moonlight silvering the pines out the window, I told her I had dreamed of the time long ago when I had swerved to miss a deer. The truck had spun in a 360 degree skid and stopped an inch from a telephone pole.