A little ghost story……
The civil war was over and of the soldiers left alive, most were heading home or just looking for peace after four years in hell. The year was 1865 and an out of work soldier traveling from Tennessee stopped at what is now called Parker, Texas. In the vastness of the grass plains he came upon a tree lined stream. Night was falling and he could see his breath in the late October air. He leaned to his horse and said “we rest here tonight”. He built a small fire and walked with his horse down to the creek to drink and fill canteens. His evening meal consisted of jerky and the last of yesterday’s rabbit. After checking his two 1861 Colt Navy pistols and stoking the fire one more time he laid in his bed roll looking at the stars and tried to remember life before war.
He dreamt of the war every night, but not this night. Tonight, something other than dreams stirred him. The low sound of a woman whispering “help me” and the glow of a large fire raised him to consciousness. Grabbing his Colts he crept down the hill towards the glow. Slowly, he made his way to a clearing within thirty yards of the fire. What he saw was a circle of men dressed in black and wearing hoods. One however, wore the head of a goat rather than a hood. “Ten men, no it’s closer to fifteen including goat head” he thought. As he watched, the goat headed man walked into the center of the circle. He saw a blonde woman bound to a fallen tree in the center of the circle. There was what looked like a large cavalry saber stuck in the dirt next to woman. Goat head took hold of the saber and raised it high over the woman.
“I didn’t fight for four years to watch this” he said to himself as he stood and drew his Colts. With a scream that make men’s hearts race he jumped the creek and fired his first shot. The shot was true and hit goat head center of the chest dropping him in his tracks. Shots two, three and four hit their targets in the hoods dropping them where they stood. Five, six, seven and eight also hit their marks as the remaining hooded men started to gather their wits. Shot number nine didn’t go off but ten, eleven and twelve did as their targets crumpled to the ground lifeless. Flipping the pistols, he took hold of the hot barrels and crashed the butt of a Colt into the hood of another sending him to the earth. Suddenly he felt a searing pain in his left arm as the Colt fell from his grasp. He spun to his left with the Colt in his right hand at the ready and saw a flash of steel speeding to his chest as his world suddenly went dark.
As the sun burned away the night his eyes struggled to open. The battle of Shiloh ran through his mind but the smell was different. It smelled peaceful, not war like. He felt his chest first, but found no wound. His left arm was stiff, but again he felt no damage. “Must have been a dream” he thought getting to his feet, but he was in the clearing by the creek, not his camp. There were no signs of the fight he had in the dream. No bodies, no blood, no hoods and no goat head. He looked for his Colts but did not find them. “What the hell?” Confused he stumbled to the creek for a drink. Dropping to his knees and leaning towards the water he froze. Battles that last for minutes seem like hours, and as he stared into the water, it felt like years. Looking back at him was not his reflection, but that of a goat head. As the image burned into his soul, the blonde woman’s reflection appeared in the water. “Help me” she said in a whisper. He spun around to find the emptiness of the clearing. With his heart pounding he raced up the hill to his camp. No signs of his camp or his horse, only a large cavalry saber stuck in the dirt. Panic took over as he grabbed the saber and raced back to the clearing, but he never made it there. He stopped at the creek and looked in the water, clenching the saber.
Some say he never left the creek and died waiting for the blonde woman to return while looking at his reflection and gripping the sabre. Some say he impaled himself on the saber to end it all. Some say he hung himself, but never let go of the sabre. Some say he walks the creek looking for the woman and his head. All say he is still holding the sabre.
I have been to the creek that crosses Dublin road when the moon is high and the night is cool and still. Stand on the bridge and you can hear the leaves rustling, when there is no wind. You can see footprints, where no one has walked. You can hear a scream that makes men’s hearts race and you can hear a whisper when no one talks. You can see the reflection of the moonlight moving in the woods. In the same way as moonlight reflects off the hair of a blonde woman or the blade of saber. What you don’t do is walk down to the creek when the moon is high and the night is cool and still. If you do, you may see this……