We’re now at Story #2, entitled The Ghost of Pinacate Ranch, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. Today’s installment is Part 1 of 2.
I had a great-uncle who was loved and hated at the same time. He had a lot of charm, and that’s why he was loved. But he suffered from mythomania. And that’s why he was hated.
According to all the psychology I studied in college, mythomania is a disease where you make up shit and tell exaggerated lies, to the point where you start believing the bullshit, yourself. That’s the official description, anyway.
Uncle Bob made up a lot of shit. He loved to regale anyone who’d listen, with tales of all his fantastic, heroic exploits, and what a wonderful guy he always was. His rodomontades and fanfaronades tended to leave eyes rolling and stomachs wambling.
But there was one particular tale he liked to tell, about the time he was a stagecoach driver. Now, he was born during the days of the horseless carriage, when stagecoaches had long gone out of use. So it was obvious to everyone, except maybe him, that this was a tall tale of astronomical altitude.
But it was an interesting tale, so he held a captive audience, as they sat mesmerized and a little frightened over his recounting of a brush with the paranormal.
One evening my drunken grandmother was listening to this bullshit story, for the umpteenth time. She’d had enough, and stood up and called Uncle Bob a fucking liar. Well, nobody calls Uncle Bob a liar. He ordered her out of his house. She refused to leave. So he twisted her arm behind her back and frogmarched her out the door.
And after that humiliation, many years would pass before she ever shared a beer with Uncle Bob again.
It’s true that she had an altercation with my uncle. And after this she wouldn’t speak to him for a long, long time. And Grandma did drink a lot. But the rest of this tale of family schism is hyperbole and embellishment. Because, you see, I suffer from mythomania also.
And I’m also a thief. Hell, if my Uncle Bob could lie so much, I figured I could take it further, and do a little stealing, myself. And so I stole my uncle’s stagecoach story and made it my own.
Yep, I gave myself credit as the author. But I put it into my own words, and changed a few details, and embellished even more than my uncle, to hopefully make it a little better. So not only am I a thief, but I’m also a fucking liar.
And now I present to you the story, handed down through generations of family braggarts, of that time when I worked as a stagecoach driver.
The Ghost Of Pinacate Ranch (Beginning)
I had just taken on a job as stage driver for a new line, that had a route I was unfamiliar with. Actually the line wasn’t new, I was just new to it, having been fired from Komfort Koaches Stageline a month back. They told me I was lazy and irresponsible and unreliable. Which I didn’t deny until applying for this new job I got.
The new job, over at Speedy Springlines, didn’t pay as well, but that’s the direction things went when you were a bum like myself. But things were done a little more casually at Speedy Springlines, and I liked the easier atmosphere.
Like I said though, they had a route that I was unfamiliar with. My boss, Hector Gonzales, did his best to describe it to me, but the description was like a map of uncharted territory—sketchy at best. He put it to me like this:
“Pendejo, see here. You go down thee main trail teel eet looks like eet peters out amongst some boulders, keeping thee western mountains by yer right eye. You’ll find thee trail again. Never leave thee trail. That’s eemportant, because once you geet through thees canyon, called Hell’s Bell Canyon, you’ll come to some trees where’s there’s a fork een thee road. Steek to thee right, don’t turn left. Whatever you do, and no matter how hard your horses pull to thee left, don’t turn left.” Gonzales was emphatic. He stressed, “That trail on thee left leads to thee old Pinacate Rancho. Thee Pinacate Ranch ees one place you want to avoid. Eet’s haunted.”
He looked me smack in the eye when he said that, like he was expecting me to be scared and shaking the brown stuff out of my boots or something. I just laughed at him and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not afraid of no haunted houses or nothing. Why you say it’s haunted anyways?” I asked out of curiosity, not superstition.
A dark shadow crossed over Gonzales’ face like a hawk over a chicken coop. His thick accent got heavy and dramatic, “A long time ago thee Pinacate was a happy rancho, weeth laughing and singing cheeldren, a reech and generous owner, and a beautiful, smiling señora. Theen one day, great tragedy. A bandido named Pedro Pescadilla rode eento thee rancho weeth a gang of nine desperados.
“They asked thee owner, Señor Pinacate, for half of all hees cattle. Naturally he refused, and put up a fight. But there were much too many of theem, and they shot down Señor Pinacate, theen slaughtered all hees eenocent cheeldren. All that was left was hees poor, beautiful wife, who they raped eleven times, once for each man, but twice for Pedro. They might as well have keeled her, too.
“But they left her, and afterwards she was too ashamed to be seen een town, so she stayed at thee rancho all alone, to look after thee graves of her poor dead husband and cheeldren. Theen one day her grief and shame were so tereeble that she hanged herself.
“Ever seence, thee house has bean haunted by her ghost. And to thees day, eeny man who spends thee night een that house weel never wake up alive. He ees murdered in hees sleep by her ghost. But your horses weel try to go to that ranch, because thee grass ees green and theeck, and water ees plenteeful. But I warn you thees day, stay away!”
I laughed and scoffed. Haunted house, my hangnail. Sounded like another story invented at a campfire to scare the bejabbers out of a greenhorn. But I reassured Hector that I wouldn’t take the Pinacate road, so he didn’t have to worry about me being murdered in my sleep by some female ghost.
I hit the trail next morning on a rickety old Speedy Springline stagecoach, driving a team of four resistant horses. I had whooped it up the night before with a whiskey bottle and whore, so I was feeling the strong elements of fatigue by the time the trail dust was rising through my nostrils. Man was I ever tired!
It was a good thing I had no passengers—since it was just a cargo run—‘cause I was bouncing carelessly over rocks and ruts and things, that I was just too tired to see in time. It was a good thing I didn’t split an axle, too.
I was trying to recall Gonzales’ directions, but there was a bit too much haze on the horizon of my clouded brain. But I was proud of myself. Because, sleepy-eyed and everything, I did make it through that maze of boulders and refound the trail.
The afternoon sun was burning warm over my head though, and that was just contributing to my tiredness. Finally I just started nodding off, and before you know it I must have just fallen asleep, because things just got all dreamy and peaceful-like of a sudden.
End of Part 1. Come on back tomorrow for Part 2, and the conclusion to this tall tale.
Categories: Series (Stories): Go West Or Go Weird