Monday, January 26, 2009

Golden Thirst II

This will be the conclusion of my previous broadcast. In the first part, I set the stage for the probability of an actual treasure in the dry, barren, West Texas landscape. What you may not realize, is the idea is based on an actual legend. There have been numerous stories and legends scattered through the years about Spanish gold in West Texas. You can find stories about a wagon train that was passing through the sand hill near Monahans, Texas. It was buried in a sand storm and remains there to this day. One of my true-life treasure hunting partners, Deacon, reminded me about an actual Spanish helmet that was found near a small hill (just outside of Westbrook, Texas,) called Skull Mountain. Yes, I've actually set out trying to find the gold, but I've come up empty myself. The ornate rifle I mentioned in the previous installment was really discovered by ST Minor in the early 1930's on the Koonsman Ranch, located between Gail and Fluvana, both small towns in the Texas Cap Rock area. Green Springs, which was a very popular camping site from the Indian days to the era of the gold rush in the 1840's through the 50's, holds its share of treasure lore. It was an area frequented by Robert E Lee during the Indian Campaigns prior to the Civil War. The area I'm describing is heavily laden with rumors of hidden gold. Well, enough of this history lesson, let's find out what happens with Tony when he sets out to find gold...

Golden Thirst Part II
The Finale

Tony’s next step was to find someone who knew the area well enough to guide him into the country. In Big Spring, he located a cowboy named Pigeon, who had punched cows all through the area and swore intimate knowledge of the proposed terrain. On a Friday morning, they set out from Indian Signal Mountain and followed Beals Creek east, toward Colorado City, stopping at every little hill and valley to poke around, fishing for luck.

Tony didn’t like Pigeon, who was so named because his feet turned inward when he walked. He had long greasy hair and tear drop tattoos under his eyes, indicating that he had spent several years in prison. He complained continually about the heat, and gripped when they set up camp and didn’t have any whiskey. Tony might not like him, but he needed him.

Pigeon had been working as a cowboy until the recent droughts caused the cattle industry to dry up. He had been without work for two months and was contemplating working as a roughneck in the oilfields to make ends meet. He was more than interested when Tony offered him one hundred dollars for the weekend, plus ten percent of their treasure, if it could be found.

On the evening of the second day, they started following the Wildhorse Creek, which at one time in the past, had flowed near a small outcropping of hills. They climbed the closest of the small rises and stopped to survey their surroundings. A cotton field ran along the northern edge of the hills. Some flat top mesas stretched along the northeastern horizon.

“If you were running from someone, where would you go?”

Pigeon spat in the dust and eyed a buzzard circling overhead. “I reckon that I would make for those hills, the little flat top over there. Beyond them is some broken country and just beyond that, the Colorado River.”

“Let’s go.” They trailed to the flat top and found part of the old trail used for several hundred years before the highways were built. They followed the road, which rounded an outcropping of boulders.

“Now, up on that rock, yonder.” Pigeon was pointing at a large rock that was shaped similar to a skull. “There are some scratchings and dates on that skull lookin’ rock.”

They climbed the boulder and found dates ranging from the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s. Etched into the boulder’s surface, they discovered an arrow pointing north, its point severely decayed by the elements. They followed the arrow and found a small rise a few hundred yards farther along. When they pulled reign at the top, the hair stood on the back of their necks. They were staring at two ancient graves and a spot dug out of the hillside many years before. They gathered their metal detectors and began scanning the area around the dig site. After a few minutes, pigeon uncovered a D-ring, the kind used on packsaddles. It was old and rusted. Excited, they began to shovel dirt from the area and, much to their surprise, uncovered seven bars of gold! They danced around in circles and screamed at the top of their lungs. Pigeon even shot his pistol into the air until it snapped on an empty chamber. They loaded the gold and prepared to return the way they came. Suddenly, Pigeon pulled his gun on Tony and said, “Well, thanks, professor. I appreciate the gold.”

Tony glowered at him. “Pigeon, why are you doing this? We had an agreement.”

He spat. “Shoot, this really ain't your gold, it belongs to no one. So I’ll just take it.”

“Okay, look. There is more here than I imagined. How about we split it fifty-fifty?”

“No, I would rather have it all.”

“Pigeon, there is no way you can get away with all that gold. Don’t do anything foolish. You don’t want to go back to prison, do you?”

He looked at him with wanton eyes for a moment. “No, I reckon not. So, I guess I will just have to shoot you, then nobody will know but me.” He cocked the pistol.

Tony held up his hands. “Okay! Hey, just finding the gold was enough for me, what do you say we make a trade?”

The gold wasn’t enough. Maybe he could get more. “Trade? For what?”

“Well, you take the gold and the horses. I’ll take my saddlebags and we call it even.” While Pigeon rolled the tobacco in his mouth, Tony pressed him. “Think about it. This was the law won’t be looking for you and I won’t have to die. It’s fair for everyone.”

“Hmmm, I get your point there, Professor. Here.” He untied Tony’s saddlebags and threw them at him. “I hope that you’re happy and that you can find your way back in.”

“Oh, I’ll be fine.” Pigeon started to walk away and Tony added, “Hey, how about one more trade before you go?” Tony reached into his saddlebags and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

“Well I’ll be! You was holdin’ out on me!”

“I’ll give this to you if you will guide me out of here. I'm lost and I just want to get home.” He held up the bottle. The seal was still intact. “No hard feelings? You can keep the gold.”

“Well, I’ll be switched.” Pigeon grinned at him. “I knew that I liked you, Professor. Why not? But I keep the gold?”

“It’s all yours. I promise.”

“Say, what else do you have in there?” He pointed at the bags.

“Oh, nothing really. Just my research. I hate to loose it.”

“Suit yourself. Let’s get going, we have a full day tomorrow.”

Tony followed Pigeon on foot until dark. As he rode along, Pigeon would stop and pull from the bottle, and then press on through the heat. That night they made camp while Pigeon finished off his bottle, passing out around midnight mumbling about the things he would buy.

In the morning, Pigeon awoke with his pistol in his hand and a hangover splitting his ears. Tony was munching on an apple and a granola bar. “Sleep well?”

“Shut up.” He buried his head in his hands.

“Too much to drink?”

Tony nodded and reached into his saddlebags. “How about the hair of the dog that bit you?” He pulled out a second bottle and tossed it to Pigeon, who stared dumbly before reaching for it.

“More bourbon?” He said with a thick tongue.

“Nothing but the best.”

“You said that you didn’t drink.”

“I don’t, but you never know when you might need to clean out a wound. You know, like the old cowboys used to.”

“Whatever.” He turned up the bottle and swallowed. “Man, I would kill for some water.”

“I know what you mean. Are you ready?” He climbed to his feet and walked to the picket line for the horses. “Holy… Hey! Where are the horses?”

Pigeon stumbled to his feet. “What? What do you mean?”

“Look for yourself. They’re gone. They took the picket line with them.”

He squinted into the morning sun, trying to think through the hang over. “Something must have spooked them in the night. Didja hear anything?”

“Well, I did hear some coyotes…”

“Well, there you go. Now we lost the horses.” He broke off into a string of swearing. “We have to find the horses or walk.” He studied the ground for a moment. “It appears that they took off in the general direction of home.”


An hour later, they were walking west, Pigeon stumbling along half drunk. Around midday, the sun was so hot that they stopped moving for fear of over exposure. Pigeon’s face was red, but he was sweating. “Man,” Tony leaned closer to him. “You look awful.”

“I’m dying.” He choked. “I just know it.” He leaned back and laid his head in the dirt. “I can’t believe these horses ran away. I hate carrying all this gold. It’s heavy.” He looked at the sun. “And, we’re out of water. You can’t imagine how thirst I am.”

“What would you do for water?”

His eyes were desperate. “Anything. If only we had water.” His lips were thick and swollen.

“Would you trade all of your gold for some water?”

“In a heart beat.”

Tony reached into his saddlebags and pulled out a liter of water. “Care to make a trade?”

“Huh?” He sat up, dirt caked into his greasy hair. “You have water?”

“Yes I do, and I will trade it to you for some gold.”

“Anything! You can have it. Just give me that water.”

“So it’s a deal? My water for your gold?”

“Yes, get me the water.”

Tony tossed him the bottle and he drank greedily from it. “Careful. It will make you sick if you don’t go easy on it.” He rose to his feet. “So long, Pigeon, good luck.”

Pigeon pulled his pistol and cocked it. “Not so fast, Professor.” He was hard to understand because his tongue was so thick. “I’ll take the gold and your water, you little snake.” He lifted the pistol at Tony with shaking hands.

“You would shoot me, even after I saved your life?”

“So call me a jerk.”

“I’ll call you greedy. You could have had fifty percent of this if you had played your cards right. Now you get none of it.” He turned and continued walking. He heard the cold snap of steel as the hammer fell on a spent round. He turned and looked at Pigeon, who dry fired three more rounds.

“Why you lousy son of…”

“Hey, Pigeon, you had a chance, now live with the consequences of your actions.”

“You stole my bullets.”

“No I didn’t. You got so excited when we found the gold that you fired all your rounds and didn’t reload. You were empty the whole time.” He turned and started walking. A few hours later, he was on his way to his hotel room, loaded with gold.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Golden Thirst

Knock, knock? Is anyone there? I've been out of pocket so long, I wonder if anyone still visits my blog? Well, I'm back for a few days and I wanted to sneak in a short story for you. This one isn't considered one of my best by any standard, but it's a fun story. It is inspired by a true legend, but not a true story. I wrote this a few years ago after examining an old map from Col. MacKinzie's Army journals during the 1800's. Someday I'll have enough time to sit and properly edit this story, (its a nightmare grammatically and structurally) but I think it will work to add to your meaningless entertainment in the mean time! This will be a two part story, and I'll try to post the second half on Monday. Please enjoy....


Two treasure hunters meandered through the parched West Texas landscape, leaving holes, broken branches, and winding trails as their calling card. For two days, they trekked across cotton fields and pastureland proving beyond shadow of doubt that “X” never marks the spot.

When they first started their journey they were proud of their idea to use horses instead of all terrain vehicles. However, after experiencing the punishing heat of the merciless summer sun and the dry winds, they were less romantic with their quest. Even so, horses were the best choice. There were too many fences to cut and ravines to cross, not to mention the thick tangle of mesquite trees growing unabated in the pastures to make vehicles practical.

Tony Blanchard, an historian from Sul-Ross University in Alpine, Texas, had discovered an old map at an estate sale some ten years before. At the time, it was nothing more than a curiosity and he framed it and hung it on his office wall, as a conversation piece. It worked. Students and staff would file into his office to see the treasure map of the conquistadors; word of mouth was great advertisement. Then one day, while reading the field journal of Captain Randolph Marcy, who had mapped the roads and trails from El Paso to California in the mid 1800’s, he noticed that Marcy’s maps and the treasure map corresponded. Was his map authentic?

He took it to an anthropologist from New Mexico State University, whose hobby was collecting and studying old maps, for his opinion. After a brief inspection, they concluded that the map was an original drawn by a Spanish monk who worked out of a mission in Ysleta, Texas in the late 1700’s. The monk busied himself by copying the maps of travelers stopping at his mission on their way from Mexico City to Santa Fe or California.

The next step was to determine if the map actually revealed a hidden stash of gold in remote West Texas, miles from any significant location. He pinpointed the proposed search area and called a local historian, Jim, and asked if he had ever heard any good stories of lost gold. Remarkably, Jim had heard several versions of the same legend; his story fit into the map.

In the days before white man started frequenting the Indian country of West Texas, a Spanish trader hired a member of the Jumano Indian tribe to guide him to the Llano Estacado, or present day high plains in the Texas panhandle, to meet with a Spanish outpost located around the Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo. They climbed onto to cap rock near Post, Texas and encountered a Comanche raiding party leading some pack mules across the plains toward Tahoka Lake. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to trade tobacco for some mules, they spent the afternoon dickering over several small items to trade.

The Comanches, notorious for bragging of their exploits, told how they attacked a Spanish convoy and captured the mules, which they intended to eat. Upon inspection, the trader discovered that the mules were loaded with gold. He traded all his supplies, including wine and muskets, to the Comanches for the gold, plus five of the ten pack mules. The Comanches needed no gold so they eagerly traded. The Spaniard and his guide reversed course and descended back into the broken country below the Cap Rock, with a destination of San Antonio, making camp against the soaring cliffs.

Early the next morning, the two were hit by a small hunting party of Kiowas and the mules scattered. The Jumano, who proudly sported an ornate and decorative musket, fled into the canyons and caves along the Cap Rock and disappeared. The Spaniard, holding onto one of the mules, fled east, and managed to evade detection. He hid in the midst of an enormous herd of buffalo around Green Springs and wandered along with them until he reoriented himself and found the Comanche war trail to Mexico. His route led him along to the Colorado River where he found an area known as Seven Wells. From there, he wound his way west until the Kiowas relocated him. The Spaniard shot several warriors and fled to Beals Creek, eventually backtracking to a hiding place near the Wildhorse Creek in some low lying hills, south of present day Westbrook. He piled rocks over his dying mule and marked the spot by tying his golden ring to a tree with his bandana. Slowly, he retreated across the West Texas desert until he found the mission at Ysleta, where he told his story to the monk. It was recorded it into history.

“There is no way to verify that the story even happened. Moreover, that it happened here,” Tony argued with Jim, the historian, while pressing a finger onto a small mark on the photo copied map.

“Well,” Jim countered, “in the 1930’s, some hunters found an ornate muzzle loader, wrapped in oil cloth, in a cave just north of Gail, Texas, on the Koonesman Ranch.” He looked around his office, moving stacks of papers and folders. “Oh, I remember, I have the newspaper article in this file.” He filtered through his cabinet and pulled out a red folder. “See, these fellows had their picture made with it. It says here that the rifle was from the late 18th century, and of Spanish origin. Not only that, but the trail that the Spaniard took was one of the same used by Colonel Mackenzie during the Indian Wars in the 1850’s. See?” He pulled out a photocopied map. “The trail runs right past Greene Springs, outside of Snyder, and crosses over the Colorado River and continues toward El Paso. From there, he could have followed the River to Seven Wells. Col. Mackenzie’s route crosses right through the area. It is all possible.”

“So, why haven’t you gone to find the gold?”

“Who says I haven't?” Jim’s eyes sparkled. “There was supposed to be a map made of the burial site, somewhere south of Westbrook. If we had the map, we might have better luck. However, the map doesn’t exist. Therefore, neither does the gold.”

Tune in later for the conclusion, when Tony starts digging for lost gold...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Lever Long Enough

Have you heard about the new book by Amy Deardon? Well let me tell you, it's incredible.

In the not so distant future, the Israeli military has developed a prototypic time machine. As expected, believers in Yeshua (Jesus) create a politically explosive situation that threatens the balance of peace between Israel and nearby countries. The desperate secular Israeli government decide to send a team of four elite soldiers back to film the theft of Jesus’ body from the tomb and thus disprove Christianity. The team, consisting of a Special Forces soldier, an ex-American astronaut , an archaeologist, and a linguist, has exactly seventy-two hours to collect the video evidence.

Once the team jumps into the first century, they are drawn into a web of deception and death—the only way to escape is for the team to change the past. Meanwhile, back in the present, a traitor attempts to sabotage the mission and seize control of the military complex.

The Special Forces leader operating in the past is the only one who can reveal him, but he is trapped two thousand years away. Even with a time machine, time is running out...

Amy nailed this story. She created a balance between sci-fi and reality in a way you imagine this could actually happen. If you like suspense, this is your story. Furthermore, she also melted romance and action into a fast paced story that continually accelerates as it nears the end.

I couldn't believe how Amy concluded the story. To be honest, I was a little angry about it because she was impossible to out guess. What I expected to happen didn't. What I wanted to happen didn't. But that's a good thing, because she far exceeded my limited imagination. If you like twists, this story is for you.

I'm not a big fan of end-times fiction. It's too predictable and too boring. This story might have some elements of Israel on the brink of war, a threatened peace process, and a snaky politician who has his own agenda, but this is not typical end-times nonsense. The way Amy ends this story will make you stop and retrace the story line to see if you can catch the twist.

I might not be very good at analyzing books, but I can read people very well. I'm proud to call Amy my friend. She is a genuine believer who struggled with the truth until she finally surrendered to Christ based on historical and scientific evidence. Great job, Amy! I hope I'm not out of place to say that Amy is working on another story line with some of the same characters. If that next story is anything like Lever, then count me in.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tagged Again

My dear friend Sarah Lopez tagged me, so I'll contribute a few more random facts from my past life. I'm going to make this tag both violent and bizarre, so you won't grow bored with my curious life.

1. I once broke my foot in a fight in prison.
2. I once ran in a relay that was so disjointed that they started to put up the hurdles before my team finished. (I was the last leg, too.)
3. I once broke a finger while fighting some jerk in the Army.
4. I once had an acting bit in a movie with both Bruce Willis (one of my favorite actors) and Julia Roberts.
5. I once broke some ribs while boxing a guy in the ring.
6. I once pushed my brother over a waterfall in a wheel barrow. It's amazing how well wheel barrows float...and how fast they sink when full of water.
7. I once ate piranhas for breakfast.

I'm willing to expand any of these stories that might seem too remarkable to believe.

I know you're supposed to tag others to participate, but I just did that to my friends not too long ago, so I'm going to let this round end with me. Unless one of you volunteers...anyone?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Purgatory Part II

This will be the final addition of Purgatory. Thank you for your comments all, and please let me know what you think of this.

Purgatory Part II

The cameraman held his fingers at Shara and began a countdown. “We go live in three, two…” his voice faded and he pointed at her with his finger.

“This is newswoman Shara Livingstone, reporting from Purgatory Prison, where Governor Cruz made a startling across the board amnesty declaration for all the prisoners held in Purgatory. In my last broadcast, I began interviewing some of the prisoners who have flatly refused to accept the pardon. I now continue with my interviews. Joining me is Cell Block Lieutenant Imp. Lieutenant, who is the man in the cell next door?”

Imp turned and faced the man cowering behind the bars. “Hey you, get up and come here.” He beat the bars wickedly. “This is one of our best prisoners.” A prisoner stood before them with tear-stained eyes. He refused to look at them and stared down at the floor.

“My name is Shara Livingstone and I want to know why you haven’t accepted the amnesty offered by the Governor.”

“I don’t deserve any amnesty. I am a very bad person. I deserve to be in this cell.”

“It doesn’t really matter how bad you were. The Governor has chosen to forgive you.”

“I know, but I just don’t deserve it. You have no idea how bad I was. The Governor could never forgive my crimes. I want to stay here.”

“But the amnesty is all encompassing. None of you deserve it; it is a gift to you. Why don’t you accept this gift?”

“Well, I know that part of the requirements is that you have to turn away from a life of crime. I can’t do that. I am too bad. I don’t deserve to be set free. I’m just too bad.”

“Thank you for your time.” The prisoner sadly turned from the bars and heaved gasping cries of sorrow from deep within his chest. He crumpled down on the filth and wept bitterly. Shara watched him in amazement. “Lieutenant, who is in the next cell?”

“This joker is a nut case. The psychologist says that he is sane, but the guy just doesn’t make any sense.” A man was standing at the bars when she stopped in front of him. “How do you do?”

She politely nodded to him. “Sir, I have a few questions about your life here in the prison…”

“What prison?”

“This prison. The one we are standing in.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m not is a prison.” He looked at over to Imp. “Hey, Lieutenant, where did you scare this woman up?”

“Shut up and answer her questions so I can go back to my work.” The man smiled warmly. “His bark is worse than his bite. So, what did you want to know?”

“The Governor has just announced amnesty to all the prisoners. Why haven’t you accepted his generous offer?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about. The Governor I know would never build a prison. He is a good man. He is a very loving Governor and would never impose on any of us.”

“But sir, you are in a prison that was built by the Governor.”

“Nonsense. I voted for the Governor. I chose him to oversee us. The man that I chose would never put anyone in a prison.”

“Oh yeah?” A gruff voice in the next cell yelled out. “I don’t even believe that the Governor is knowable.”

The man Shara was interviewing waved him off. “Don’t pay any attention to him. It is amazing how it’s human nature to assume that because we believe or don’t believe something, then that makes it true. This joker doesn’t believe in gravity either. Even though he can feel the effects of gravity, he refuses to believe in gravity. I keep telling him that gravity exists where he believes it or not. The Governor is knowable. I know him. I voted for him. And the man I voted for would never put any of us in a prison.”

“Oh yeah?” Another man yelled at them several cells down. “I read that amnesty announcement and I didn’t understand it.”

“Well, I read it,” a different man yelled back. “And it had a contradiction in it. Therefore, it can’t be right. Besides, one of the Governor’s aids wrote the document for him, it’s not really from the Governor himself. There, I have proven that amnesty is a fraud!”

Shara Livingstone walked several cells down and saw a man sitting on the floor with his feet crossed. “Sir, may I ask you some questions?”

“I already know that you want to ask about the so called amnesty.”

“Yes that’s right. What do you think of the amnesty?”

“It doesn’t really matter. This prison is nothing more than a metaphor about life. Besides, I believe that when I die, I will be set free from this prison. I have lived a good life and what comes around goes around.”

“But sir, you can get out now without having to die.”

“I used to be a thief, but now I live by the golden rule. If I can continue to live a good enough life, then I will make it out of here when I die.” “

Thank you.” She walked a few doors down. “How about you, sir? Don’t you want to get out of this prison?”

“Sure, some day. When I’m older. I’m not through living here yet. But before I die, I plan to take the amnesty and get out. But for now, I’m just having too much fun. Besides, I don’t want to become a puppet for the Governor.”

“Thank you.” She turned to the Lieutenant. “I have time for one more interview. Let’s go to that man standing over there. Excuse me, I have a few questions about the amnesty announcement made a few days ago.”

“Yeah? What do ya want to know?”

“Why haven’t you accepted the freedom and walked away from your prison cell?”

“Are you trying to make me feel guilty by representing the Governor? I don’t appreciate your attack on my personal beliefs. Who are you to judge me?”

“I’m not judging you; I only want to know why you haven’t taken the opportunity to leave your prison.”

“Well, there is a truth that works for you and a truth that works for me. My own personal truth tells me that I can live right here if I want to. You can’t force your truth on me. That violates my personal space and my personal beliefs. Who are you to come and try to condemn me? Now leave me alone.”

Shara turned away from the cell and began to walk with Lieutenant Imp back toward the exit. “I didn’t realize how far we walked into the prison. It is so dark and foul in here.”

“Yep, but that’s how I like it.”

“Isn’t it amazing how bright the light is from the exit door? It’s almost blinding.”

“Yes it is. I like the darkness better. It’s just too bright outside.”

“Hey, who is that walking around here in the cell block? Is it the prisoners?”

“Well, sort of. These people here stepped out of their cells, but refuse to actually walk into the light. They just love the darkness too much to leave it. What’s more remarkable is that they think that they are free. But they still live in all this filth like the men in the cells.”

“I need to talk to one of them.” She stopped a man that was wandering in the darkness. “Excuse me sir, but I have a question for you about the amnesty.”

“Sure, go ahead. That’ my favorite topic. I love to talk about the Governor. After all, he set me free.”

“But have you really been set free? You are still living within the walls of the prison.”

“I have been set free. There is no doubt.”

“Yet you are still here in the cell block. Why don’t you move on into the light and out of this prison?”

“I’m not in the prison. I am free. Sometime I do go near the light and walk around outside. But, this is where my home is and my friends live here also.”

“But I have been outside, and it’s clean and free outside. Why make your home here?”

“Oh, when I went out there, they wanted me to go and tell others about how the Governor set me free. It just seemed like they were expecting too much of me.”

“That is part of the condition for release, to live a life that directly opposes crime.”

“Well, I didn’t want all my friends to make fun of me. It was just too uncomfortable. I tried it out, but it just didn’t work for me. So, I came back in here where all my friends are.”

“Thank you.” She turned to the camera. “I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. These prisoners all have different reasons for choosing to remain here in Purgatory State Prison. Despite the fact that none of their reasons or excuses make sense, they are content to live a life of filth and squalor rather than a life of freedom and responsibility. This has been Shara Livingstone reporting live. Now back to you…”

The End