Hudspeth Our Man in
literally came into our lives "out-of-the-blue". We had had a flat tire in west
Texas between Wink and El Gato Mio del Rio Frio (My Cat from the Cold River).
Brewster appeared silently; his thin form creating a partial eclipse of the sun
as we attempted to loosen lug nuts. We braced ourselves for the usual acrid smell
of sweat and alcohol that road people normally splash on before hitting the road,
but we were pleasantly surprised by a whiff of cologne over soap with a base note
He appeared to be somewhere between 45 and 80 with no identifying
marks or tattoos. His face had a just-shaved smoothness and a pink glow like an
old hand-tinted photograph or maybe a baby's behind. He was a facial type - a
slightly long face like Jason Robards, but not quite as long as John Huston. Maybe
as long as James Coburn - but certainly not as long as Max Von Sydow's. Let's
just say he had a long face.
(left) at the UFO crash site outside of Wink, Texas, 1947|
Man at right
was the bulldozer operator who dug the mass grave and later died in a freak boating
| He introduced
himself by his familiar-sounding name and said he'd inflate our tire in return
for a ride to Frio Gato (as the locals call it). He didn't say he'd "change" our
tire - he said the word "inflate". We weren't about to turn down help since we
didn't have a wrench. We had been trying with little success to loosen the lug
nuts with our fingers. |
He removed the lug nuts with a tool he took from
his back pocket and placed them in his mouth. "Suh eh dunt lussum," he mumbled
in explanation. He raised the wheel, pursed his lips, took a deep breath and inflated
the tire with the same effort a normal person would use on a child's float ring.
The tire was inflated in no time - to the point where he even had to let some
air out. He pinched a peanut-sized piece of asphalt from the road and worked it
into the hole, bouncing the tire repeatedly. We asked him if that helped seal
the tire, but he said, no, he just liked the way tires bounced.
the lug nuts into his hand one at a time as he put them back on. He apologized
for the one he swallowed. He said he could return it in a day or two - but we
told him we'd pick one up at the parts store.
Driving Brewster to town,
we asked him why his name sounded vaguely familiar. He chuckled and said he had
only come up with it last month after awakening in a Sanderson motel with no clothes,
no ID and no memory. He said it was just like the punch line to an old joke -
including a $20 bill taped to his chest.
He went on to say that the
only other item in the room that wasn't provided by the management was a large
"vegetable skin" under him on the floor - which he described as being "like a
sleeping bag made of green tobacco leaves". His last memory had been attending
the State Fair in Dallas.
We thought we had misheard
him, but when we asked when he was born - he told us in a matter-of-fact tone
- "1860". "Let's see," he said, "that'll make me about 141 years old this November."
Well, that shut us up. Brewster went on to say he could remember just
about everything from 1867 to 1948, but not his name. He didn't go to the authorities,
for he knew they wouldn't believe him - and he'd probably be held for observation.
He knew he'd be needing a name, so he picked up a hotel map/ place mat and
combined the names of two West Texas counties. He had toyed with using Ward Reeves
or the Southern-Latin sounding Jeff Davis Presidio. But in the end he decided
on Brewster Hudspeth.
He told us that things had changed since 1948 (like
we needed to be told) and he was letting the changes soak in a little at a time.
He had been spending his days between the county library and the Frio Gato domino
parlor -filling in the gaps.
Since Brewster said he had been to nearly
every town in West Texas - and has met many familiar names, we couldn't pass up
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this. We asked him if he'd write for us
and he agreed.
So, that's the arrangement we have with Brewster. We
feed him and give him some "walkin' around money" and he makes coffee in the morning.
We've also agreed to help him find his true identity. So, if your town is one
that Brewster has visited, or has once lived in - the chances are he'd probably
have his version of what actually happened in your hometown.
© John Troesser
Staff | Contributors