by Stephen Osmon
Ghost Towns and Town Ghosts - Page 3
Tumbleweed opened his eyes wide and seemed to be looking a million
miles away. When he stood up and began to address me, he spoke with
a strong voice.
“. . .when the Great Spirit had made all the animals, and the first
man and the first woman he was very happy. The first man and the first
woman as well as the first animals spent their first night in total
In the morning the Great Spirit asked if they liked the nighttime.
The man said ‘with no light, he became fearful of the sounds around
The Great Spirit thought about it and then reached to the sun and
broke off a piece of it. Then he crumbled some of it and left the
rest solid. He placed all in his medicine bag. Then the Great Spirit
said to the first man and woman, ‘I will place these small pieces
of the sun in great patterns in the sky, it will be like the greatest
beadwork across the sky. And from this time on when any man, woman
or animal looks into the nighttime sky they will know that I exist,
they will marvel at the patterns my hand created.’ But having created
the world and all the animals and man and woman the Great Spirit was
very tired; he needed to rest before he went about placing the pieces
in the sky that night.
As the Great Spirit was sleeping and after the sun had set, the grandfather
of all coyotes slowly climbed the mountainside where the Great Spirit
So the first coyote said to himself, ‘It is true that the Great Spirit
gave me plenty to eat, but I bet he has kept the best food for himself
right there in his bag.’
Now the first coyote, like all coyotes are like a dog, and we all
know that all a dog really wants to do is to fill his belly. So he
quietly climbed to the Great Spirit. When he got close enough, he
grabbed the medicine bag and started to run down the side of the mountain,
but part of the way down he tripped and he spilled the contents of
the bag all across the sky!
The Great Spirit woke up and cried, ‘Oh Coyote, oh Coyote what have
you done? I was going to place those pieces of the sun in great patterns
like a beadwork so all man and animal would understand who I am, that
But now there is no pattern there is no beadwork to see.
Look what you have done Coyote!’
AND WE KNOW THIS IS TRUE! Even today when the great-great-grandchildren
of that first coyote see the moon and stars at night it is in shame
of the actions of the first coyote that they cry — ARRRHOOOOOOO! ARRRHOOOOOO!
. . .”
started to understand that he, the man, was only a small part of it.
It’s a whole lot deeper than that, but you’re not ready for that truth
my friend. You’re close, but you’re not quite ready yet.
remember when I was a kid; my grandmother would tell us stories about
when she was young and all the things that befell her. I really loved
those stories, even the ‘scary’ ones, in fact I loved them the most.
But even then it wasn’t the ‘ghost’ or the ‘unknown thing’ that really
intrigued me; it was the fire I saw in her eyes as she told the stories,
she was in the ‘zone’ for those moments. I guess deep inside, even
back then I wished I could be a writer. Then several years later I
came across a translation from the Egyptian papyrus of Ani.
which is named must exist.
That which is named can be written.
That which is written shall be remembered.
That which is remembered lives.
knew that there were hundreds, even thousands of stories to be told;
but for the most part the ones who need to hear these stories are
too busy setting the stage for their own lives.
It’s usually not until we come full circle in our understanding of
ourselves that we are ready for these stories, but mostly it’s too
late then and all we have are memories.
Sadly that is the case for me, and I will forever have to live with
the fact that I was too busy living my life to understand I was missing
the best part.
‘zone’ that an artist falls into when the ‘calling’ happens is the
place where, that artist is one with all that is. Even if you are
not an artist or musician you may know what I mean. When you are doing
something you really love to do and time flies by. You can be sitting
in a chair but still be camping or swimming or dreaming in your mind.
For me, a good story can take me to those places. And the fact
is that I only spent an hour at the station with the old man. Physically
I never left, but in my mind, due to the telling of the story I was
really there, camping and all!
. . I finished my coke and sandwiches when I noticed the old man was
getting tired and it was already 3:00 so I helped him bring in the
trash and I paid for everything. Then I said goodbye to an old man
that was pleased to have had someone to talk to.
my truck began to take me past the old gas station I looked down at
my envelope with that fancy list of official ghost towns and the map
I had all marked up.
In a way it all represented my own mistaken belief that I had to look
far from where my feet are to find something worth writing about,
something worth thinking about. It all seemed like a real good idea,
then I met Tumbleweed.
my friend you and I will most likely meet again and if you’re ever
in Texas we just might make eye contact and not even know it, but
I hope you take a moment, at that moment and at the very least say
hello. You will find me once in a while in a roadhouse on a main road,
and if you do I’ll probably have my guitar out, rustling up enough
cash to fill my belly and whet my whistle!
Mostly though, you’ll find me in those one horse towns, in the general
stores or Mom and Pop taverns when I’m not out exploring.”
if you want to hear one of Tumbleweeds tales, you don’t have to go
You don’t even need to read one of my stories;
No Ma’am! No Sir!
that truth I began teasing you about a while back? Well, you’re ready
for it now and here it comes:
“The next time you see an old pair of August eyes, buy a coke or something,
and bring it to the person. While you’re lookin at em square in the
eyes hand the drink over to him or her and ask, “You got any stories
to tell me?”
looking in those ancient eyes, when they begin to light up in preparation
to tell their tale you’ll see the veil begin to stir and then it may
or may not lift completely, but that vacant look will be replaced
When you see it, when you see that ‘fire in their eyes,’ you don’t
have to look any further my friend. That’s
you get there you’ll know. Then you will have to decide, will you
stop or will you just pass by? It could change your life forever;
but you gotta make the first move.”
Take care now, ya hear?