Friday, August 05, 2005

Crossett's Headless Ghost

There is a scene in my novel Ghost of a Chance where Buck McDivit sees a light coming from the water’s edge. Having recently witnessed what he thinks is a ghost he investigates to find Wiley Johnson, fishing off the marina’s dock by the light of a flickering lantern. Wiley offers Buck a beer, listens to his ghost story then tells him one of his own.
“Sounds like a paranormal occurrence, at the very least.”
Wiley explains that he once checked out the local legend of a ghost that supposedly haunts the railroad track near Crossett, Arkansas — the ghost of a train conductor that literally lost his head during a railroad accident.
As every writer knows, there is a little truth in all fiction. This is true of the story about the headless conductor — a ghost I saw with my own eyes.
While attending college in Monroe, Louisiana, I worked at a bowling alley. Much in the manner of all fine Louisiana establishments, the bowling alley had a lounge. After closing at midnight, I, along with Trellis, the mechanic, Chuck, my roommate who also worked at the bowling alley, and Joe, the manager had a few drinks in the lounge. The discussion led to ghosts, the headless conductor of Crossett in particular, and we were in the right frame of mind to check it out for ourselves.
Crossett is a little town in Southern Arkansas, not far from the Louisiana border. We stopped at a convenience store along the way to make sure we had enough beer for the trip. After passing through Crossett, we crossed the railroad track and parked beside the road. A jillion stars lit the clear Autumn sky — a good thing as we hadn’t thought to bring a flashlight. Joe waited in the car while Trellis, Chuck and I walked down the dark track in search of the headless ghost. Even in our advanced state of inebriation, we never really expected to see it, but see it we did.
Darkness and surrounding trees and vegetation made it hard to judge distances, but we almost immediately saw something on the track in front of us — a hundred yards, perhaps a thousand yards away. It was a dim, incandescent blob of light that danced just above the tracks. When we moved toward it, it moved away. When we walked away from it, it chased us.
We stayed on the tracks for what must have been an hour, the dancing blob of light present the entire time. We all saw it, even Joe, the bowling alley manager that had driven us to Crossett. Joe didn’t drink alcohol.
We saw something. Granted, it may have been swamp gas or some other unexplained phenomena. What it seemed like to me was an entity, a real being that sensed our presence, meant us no harm but had fun “playing” with us. Don’t believe me? Then I urge you to go to Crossett, Arkansas and check it out for yourself.


Born a mile or so from Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric Wilder grew up listening to his grandmother’s tales of politics, corruption, and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma and continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent. Please check out his AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know...I live by that railroad track. I've been there like a million times and have never seen it. But I have seen the light of his lantern on another road called the light road. You need to go there on a clear night and you talk about bein freaked out!