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CONCHO'S CORNER

 

A GHOST STORY

 

A few years ago I was working for the C-C ranch in Nara Visa New Mexico. The top hand at the time was an old time cowboy named Clyde Shepherd We got too be pretty good friends, He was 72 years old and still working every day He’d worked for the ranch since he was 22 years old what he didn’t know about cowboyin’ just wasn’t worth knowin.

Now old Clyde was a heck of a character and he had a thousand stories to tell about the old days, we’d sit around in the evening in the bunkhouse and me and the other hired hands would listen to his stories.

One day Clyde me and four other hired hands had to go over to the oldest part of the ranch on the far side way to the north it was an area that was unfenced full of canyons gullies washouts and draws. We spent the day gathering some pretty wild cattle and trailed them to an old line shack with a set of old wooden corrals and pens. The whole place was old and you could tell that it hadn’t been used for in long time. By the time we got the cattle into the pens and spent the rest of the day patchin' up the worst parts it was getting pretty late and the night started to draw in, as darkness started to fall the place took on an eerie feel. While the rest of the crew were drinking coffee from their flasks in the pick ups, I walked over too the old line shack and pushed open the busted door and peered inside. Everything was covered in a thick grey blanket of dust, there were plates and tin cups on the table and stuff hung on the walls, the bunks had the remains of blankets on them and an old coffee pot stood on the stove .It looked a hundred years old inside and I wondered when people had last stayed there. The place had a strange feel to it and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up I felt a chill run thru me. As I closed the door it creaked loudly, I felt I was closing the door on the past, again a chill ran thru me. I left, and made my way back to the pens

.We loaded the horses into the trailors and headed back to the headquarters.

On the drive back I asked Clyde about the old place.



This is his story just the way he told it to me…………..



That’s the old Guyagus camp he said, the Comanche’s called it the bad place.

Back in 1978 me and another fella’ a new hand Called Keith, got sent over to the Guyagus camp to check on some 15 head or so of cattle that had been held in the pens from the roundup all we had to do was load them in the trailor and take em’ back to headquarters. It was pretty late by the time we got there I guess we were in a hurry and hoping we could get loaded and headed back to headquarters before it got dark and in time to get supper.

We pulled into one of the pens and unloaded the horses and set about loading the cattle thru the chutes and into the trailers. While we were working I got to telling the new guy the stories I’d heard about the place and I guess he was getting a little spooked, it getting dark and all. So hell, I jest kept on a telling him more stories. And I told him about how back in the 1870s the first ranchers in the area were plagued with rustlers and outlaws, and how the outlaws had built the shack and corrals to keep the stolen horses and cattle in, and use the place as a hideout until they had enough to trail south and sell to the Apaches or in Mexico.

The ranchers in the area got together and formed a syndicate then they hired a crew of gunmen and bounty hunters to track the outlaws down and bring law to the area. It took the bounty hunters a year to hunt them down and finally in an ambush they surrounded the camp and massacred the rustlers, there was talk that some of the outlaws had tried to surrender but the bounty hunters killed them all, they hung the ones that hadn’t been killed in the shootout the ones to badly shot up to be hanged were shot where they fell. No quarter was given there were no survivors. Now the leader of the gang so the stories tell was a priest that had gone wrong. As they hung him with his final words he cursed the bounty hunters and swore a oath of revenge on the men who had showed no mercy as the noose was placed about his neck one final sound came from his lips a blood curdling laugh that pierced the still air and lasted till his horse was whipped from between his legs. The gang of gunmen and bounty hunters having finished there bloody work took their bounty money and left the area. In the years that followed stories would be heard by the ranchers of the deaths of some of them and one by one they all died but then such was the nature of their work.

Time passed and the ranches grew and the C-C was born and grew to be one of the biggest in the area. fences were raised and the old line shack was fenced in but so distant in those days it was rarely used but strange stories began to be told by the C-C cowboys about the old Guyagus camp. Some refused to stay or work there, Some would tell of strange noises that sounded like gunfire in the night, others would tell of cattle and horses milling around and the hoots yips hollering of cowboys, as if cattle were being worked tho’ none were there. Whispered voices of men taking were often heard.

Now I could see Keith was listening real hard his eyes were wide and he was breathing a little heavy. So I told him how back in 1920 a bunch of cattle around 150 head that had been left in the corral overnight vanished without a trace, a year or so later some of them showed up across the state line near Channing in Texas, everyone of em’ was blind.

Them I told him about one Cowboy that for a bet stayed in the shack back in 30s he too vanished never was seen again.

Another story runs that another cowboy back in 1951 took on the job of line riding the area

He was gone best part of two weeks then came whooping his horse into the headquarters stepped down and said I seen……. And he dropped down dead.

Then again in 1959 two more cowboys needing work real bad took on the line riding job figurin’ there was safety in numbers they both disappeared never to be seen again. The sheriff from Logan was called to investigate he went out there and was found a week later wandering in the hills naked as a jaybird his hair had turned white and he’d lost his mind, never spoke another word they put him in the crazy house in Amarillo but he never spoke a word again.

Other strange things have been seen by riders passing by. Near the old tree where they hung the survivors of the gunfight a lone rider was seen reading from a black book they said was a bible. Another cowboy swore he’d seen a rider with a hangman’s noose around his neck that vanished into the darkness.

Back in the closing years of the 1800s there were many claims of ghostly riders that rode the hills around the old camp the news papers of the time were full of them. These stories have continued till the present day.

Just last year a lady reporter from back east came out she’d heard the stories and wanted to write an article for one of those dude cowboy mags, folks tried to warn her off but she wasn’t having any of it Off she went with a couple of riders the boss sent along they took her over there and then she insisted much to their relief that they leave her alone the boss sent a couple of hands back in a pick up they found her in the yard outside the shack eating dirt. They brung her back she stayed a few days then some folks from her magazine come and took her back east,. All she ever did was quote lines from the bible over and over. Never did find out what happened to her.

Clyde Stopped talking and took a swig of water……………

Now I never did put much store in those stories He continued, until that night in 1978.

Me and the kid Keith was about thru loading and he slammed the gate on the trailer by now it was dark and we walked to the truck I started to tell him I thought we would be too late back for supper but that the cook had probably left a plate of sandwiches for us The CB radio crackled to life

Arrowhead one this is arrowhead base come in Arrowhead one do you copy?

as I reached for the door handle a cold rush of air blew and the temperature dropped I looked across the corral and a huge cloud of smoke had surrounded the whole outside of the corral. Keith hollered look and pointed toward the swing gate to the coral, Riders on horses started to appear thru the smoke two then three more, then a bunch of five or six, there musta’ been twenty or so. we looked at them I didn’t have any idea what the hell was happening. I heard the kid say what the f***

The horses and riders all looked like they had rode thru a sandstorm they were ghostly white and the horses looked the same, the faces of the men were like skeletons the eyes were deep and dark they sat there without moving staring at us. I suddenly realized they were dressed in the style of the 1880s they all rode those old fashioned high back old time saddles and all of them carried pistols in gunbelts. I reached slowly into the truck and pulled a Winchester from the gun rack and Keith did the same with a high power hunting rifle. I had a pistol under the seat I opened the door to get it, as I reached under the seat one of the riders started toward us, I tucked the pistol in my belt as he neared me YOU MUST LEAVE THIS PLACE his voice boomed NOW and take that devils contraption with you. He pointed to the truck and trailor.,

I asked him Who the F**** are you

YOU USE THE DEVILS TONGUE He said.

You got no right to be here I told him This is private property. You best be gone. I told him,

NO!! YOU WILL LEAVE NOW!! He reached into his coat and pulled out a bible He started to read from it, I could see he had a hangman’s noose around his neck.

Then another rider came forward,

THESE MEN ARE BOUNTY HUNTERS!! The second rider said pointing at me ‘n’ Keith

WE MUST KILL THEM.!!

What the hell are you talking about were not bounty hunters were just cowhands that work for the C-C But the sonofabitch wasn’t listening,

BE GONE FROM THIS PLACE OR WE WILL WREAK VENGENCE UPON YOU LEAVE NOW OR DIE. His voice boomed again

. As he finished talking the riders all drew pistols from their holsters the sound of those old colt peacemakers being cocked broke the silence. and it chilled me to the bone.

Keith had climbed into the back of the truck he pulled the bolt on the rifle he was holding and readied the gun he pointed it at the leader of the bunch Mr. he said you better listen to Clyde and get the f*** outta here. His voice trembled as he spoke. The riders started to circle the corral I started to climb in the truck the leader and other man backed there horses out to the edge of the corral there was some bales of hay in the truck it was all the cover there was. This was not going to good I didn’t have a clue what was gonna happen But things were being to go to hell My eyes just didn’t wanna believe what they were seein’. Me and Keith stood back to back in the truck as they continued to circle us like the Indians in them old movies. The riders kicked their horses into a trot then a lope they continued to circle. You think they gonna start shootin’? Keith said. I dunno I told him Just be ready.

F*** F**** F**** look!! Keith hollered I looked where he was pointing a group of about seven ghostly white figures in white dresses with white veils covering their faces were walking thru the cloud of smoke into the corral. They stopped near the fence as the leader boomed out PREPARE TO MEET THY DOOM!!!

All hell broke loose the sound of those old colts was deafening bullets whistled thru the air as we crouched down behind the hay bales. All Keith kept sayin’ was F*** F*** F*** I’ve only got three round Clyde, he screamed at me,. I started to crank the action on the Winchester and saw one of the riders fall from his horse use them now I hollered I was firing as fast as I could I saw three more riders fall, then two more as Keith fired. Take the pistol I told him.

I dropped two more riders Keith emptied the pistol and four more riders dropped then I saw something that stopped me firing Those women in dresses were floating across the ground and putting their hands on the dead riders, and they rose up off the ground and started toward us firing their guns again. Keith musta’ seen what I was seein’ at the same time. Oh F*** what we gonna do he screamed .keep firing I told him,

I’m out he cried I’m outta ammo .Oh F*** oh shit oh f*** he kept sayin

I kept firing as the riders circled I took out three more but those ghost women were raisin em up I couldn’t believe what was happening I saw two climbing into the truck as Keith beat the shit outta them with the pistol he was yellin’ at me shoot em shoot em I looked toward him just in time too see a hole appear in his forehead he looked at me with an expression of disbelief blood appeared and run down his face. He dropped too the bed of the truck dead.

I jumped from the truck still firing and figured if I could get to the cab maybe I could get outta there. Then the hammer clicked I cranked the action again and again I was out of ammo I turned the rifle and begun to swing it at the men coming toward me when I felt a pain in the shoulder I WAS hit!! Another bullet hit me in the leg and spun me around I grabbed at the handle on the cab as I felt a thud in the back of my head I was hit again another round hit me in the back then another and another I fell to the ground and a warm feeling came over me and blackness washed over me I was dying. then nothing…………………………………………………………………………………………………...then I heard a muffled

Arrowhead one arrowhead one come in…………………………………………………….

Arrowhead one Clyde do you copy………………………..I sat up

I looked around there was no one there the corral was empty

Arrowhead one arrowhead one this is arrowhead base do you copy?

Clyde you ok? It was Keith in the pick up bed he was standing up rubbing his forehead

Yeah You?

Yeah I think so he said what the f*** happened? Did you see what I saw he asked? He jumped outta the truck Yeah I guess so I told him. I thought I was dead I told him yeah me too He said I saw you get shot in the head I told him I touched his forehead there was nothing there I felt my head then my shoulder and leg Nothing no holes no blood nothing. We stood there not knowing what to say, shocked like; all we could do was shake our heads.

Arrowhead one godammit! what the hell is going on over there arrowhead one do you copy?

Keith walked to the door and reached in and picked up the mike.

Yeah this is arrowhead one we copy come on.?

Well hell it’s about time you answered I bin callin’ ya what’s the hold up over there?

You ain’t gonna believe this Keith started to say but we just bin in a gunfight with a bunch of old time outlaws me and Clyde were both killed.

Godammit you bin drinking beer and listening to Clyde’s stories aintcha?

NO NO NO I’m serious listen I, I, I, I, …….. He trailed off

Just get your ragged asses back here I got the cook waitin’ up

Lets get outta here Keith .I said no ones ever gonna believe us

But it did happen didn’t it Clyde

I said I dunno

But if it didn’t, what the hell is that doin’ there, and I pointed to the Winchester that always hung on the gun rack laying in the dirt by the truck. I picked it up it was still hot and it was empty it was always kept loaded.

We climbed into the truck I put the gun back on the rack and started the truck we pulled outta the corral as we went thru the gate a blood curdling laugh echoed across the empty corral. But there was no one there.

Well that’s the way Clyde told it to me I leave you to think what you will.

 
 

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