One book leads to another...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dark Desert Highway

Not everyone can claim they’ve ever seen a UFO, much less a cigar-shaped craft of gleaming silver streaking across the sky, though throughout history in the villages of Arizona’s Navajo nation a great many people swear they have, and are eager to share their stories as well as ancient depictions; painted on handmade pottery and carved on the walls of caves. While generally attributed to the peculiar philosophies of those accustomed to seclusion, the stories continued and grew in such numbers as to eventually warrant a team of experts called the Navajo Nation Rangers to investigate such reports as multiple lights hovering low before jetting straight up and out of sight, followed by a sonic boom and power outages in the town of Chinle.

One retired Lt. described being followed by an orb for over 30 minutes on his way to investigate such accounts as that of a Skinwalker, posed as a human-sized rabbit in a distraught woman’s driveway, or coins falling out of thin air near the home of an elderly man. 

But in the four corners area, the dark desert highway; widely recognized as one of the most dangerous and downright haunted stretches of highway in America, known as The Devil’s Highway, was largely left to fend off its demons without assistance or scrutiny; leading to historically high numbers of accidents with fatalities. Some cases involved Satan’s Sedan; a sleek black car that bore down from behind until the driver drove off the road, or causing the same effect with a head-on approach. There are reported incidents of a possessed Semi-truck barreling down the center line; causing multiple-car crashes in a one-mile stretch. Hitch hikers were noted as well, though perhaps not the typical stranger one would expect, because they look like someone you know or have known – until they get into your car.

Oddly enough, fatalities and disturbing accounts in general declined dramatically in 2003 when the highway was, not quite by an act of congress, renamed (re-numbered) to Route 491, from its former moniker Route 666.

And speaking of state routes, I’ll be watching a Cavalcade of Cars parade down SR 260 for the 33rd annual Run to the Pines car show this weekend as I embrace the first brisk days of fall! I hope your weekend is unusually fun too!

If you thought you saw a UFO, would you say so? If you could skin-walk, what would you choose to be? Do you believe the very name of a highway could affect events occurring on it?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In The Shadow of Weaver's Needle

High above the sixth most populated city in the US is a mountainous region where the silence is such that the sound of a soaring hawk is no less surprising than that of a gurgling stream; several miles below, in a breathtaking vista of majesty both real and unrealized. The Apaches call this place the Devil’s Playground; for the unexplained events and experiences seem to defy all logic ever defined by man. 

From unearthly lights, to dimensional shifts in space and time, the impenetrable aura of mystery swirls around visitors in a feather-soft breeze and dares them to believe in the legends of the Superstition Mountains. 

One such legend is that of the Lost Dutchmen, a prospector named Jacob Waltz who reportedly had and successfully hid a fortune in gold somewhere in the shadow of Weaver’s Needle. Whether or not he mined the treasure in the shadow of Weaver’s Needle or obtained it elsewhere, as I mentioned here, remains a subject of much deliberation.  And while some believe it is protected by the (Apache) curse of the Black Legion; deep within one of the harshest environments imaginable, an untold number of fortune hunters have nonetheless dared to brave the elements; many of whom died trying, but the treasure has never been found.  

In response to the ever-expanding Southwest territory, camels were sent to Arizona in 1857 for the purpose of assisting the poor old ragged mules charged with carrying US mail and military supplies across the desert plains. By the time the railroad stretched across the mesas the camels had either died of exhaustion of been released to survive as they might, which is about the time the Red Ghost stories began to circulate. 

The first of several unsettling tales was of a woman found trampled outside her camp with only tufts of reddish fur and hoof prints as clues. Another was of a timid soldier being hog-tied and strapped to a great red camel’s back in order to cure his fear of the animal. But the perturbed beast of burden took off in a huff and wasn’t seen again until stories surfaced of the eerie image of a ghostly red camel with a headless rider bouncing on its back.  An unassuming prospector named Jake (depending on which legend you choose to believe, this could be the same Jacob) was followed by a lawless lout named Paul Adams who sought to discover where Jake hid a cache of gold – or better yet – the location of the vein. When Adams was sure Jake had led him to the right spot, he quickly murdered Jake and planned on reaping the spoils - until Jake’s camel attacked him. Naturally, Adams killed the camel too. But days later as sand blasted his eyes and face on a moonless summer night, the ghost of Jake returned on the back of his beloved dead camel, causing a terrified Adams to hightail it to the nearest sheriff’s post where he turned himself in and promptly confessed.

Have you ever panned for gold? Which has more allure, hidden treasure or legendary mystique?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG - From the Same Stone

Flood of '83

In a region where weather forecasters are never taken seriously, and we don’t believe a cloud means rain before the musky scent of creosote pervades, tropical storm Newton has bucked the odds and barreled up from the Baja. Flooding began as soon as it crossed the border and the eye has yet to arrive. I hope we’ve learned to drive since last time…

But that’s not what I meant to talk about today as it’s once again the first Wednesday of the month when the Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes to discuss whatever is on our writing minds. The question for this month is “How do you find the time to write in your busy days?” That’s easy since I write all the time; anywhere and everywhere. I once wrote the first line of a story on the back of a doctor’s appointment card. I went on to finish the story but subsequently missed the appointment because I had tucked the card away in my “story ideas” drawer!

After spending a few years just sitting on the shore, though the sea of publication hadn’t lost its allure, I decided to kick off my shoes and trepidations and wade back in. See, last time out, I met a shark right off and swore I didn’t need this. Actually, I still don’t, but I want to.

Recently, I was appalled by the story of a writer’s disappointment at being rejected simply because while the publisher sat on the work for nearly a year, other work in the same genre was in the process of publication!  Should we take that to mean that all mysteries have been solved, and no one else will ever fall in love, so don’t bother writing about it? Was it the (publisher’s) timing? 

 It’s been my experience that there will always be a “brightest star”, but not the same one every night. So who’s to say a writer’s work; when polished just a bit, won’t shine above the rest? I hope the writer saved her work for brighter days; I sure would have. 

It’s these and other questions that remind me of a story about a magnificent marble statue which drew so many visitors from all over the world that the marble tile complained to the statue about the unfairness of being stepped on, while the statue was revered. “We’re from the same stone, you know.”
“While you resisted the sculptor’s painful tools,” replied the statue “I decided I could endure and thusly was transformed.”

It’s Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month! 

Do you believe there’s room for more in every genre? If you were to create a whole new genre, what would it be?