Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Ghost of a Chance Revisited - a trip to Caddo Lake
I grew up in the sleepy little northwest Louisiana town of Vivian, a few miles from Caddo Lake. Caddo, as many of you may know, is the largest natural lake in Texas. It also crosses the state line into Louisiana. The lake is, quite simply, one of the most mysterious spots on Earth. Giant cypress trees with bloated trunks and branches draped with Spanish moss, grow in dark water, and the place is alive with garfish, gators and colorful waterfowl. Caddo stretches for miles, through endless canebrakes and hidden pools, so large and winding that even the United States doesn't have an accurate map.
The first offshore oil well was drilled from a wooden platform in Caddo Lake. These tiny structures still dot the water, some converted to duck blinds, while slow moving pumping units occupy others, sipping oil from a subsurface anticline called the Sabine Uplift.
Caddo Indians once occupied the area. Legend has it the lake was formed by a monster earthquake. When the Tribe's powerful chief had a dream, he awoke his people up in the middle of the night, moving them to safety. Next morning, as the story goes, Caddo Lake had formed following the earthquake, possibly the New Madrid Earthquake, the most powerful ever felt in the United States - so powerful, the Mississippi River flowed backwards for two days. I don't know if the old Chief's prophesy was true, but it's a fact that the area is littered with shards of broken pottery, arrowheads and other artifacts.
Caddo Indian's aren't the only history makers at Caddo Lake. Potter's Point was the home of Robert Potter, a Texas hero, along with Sam Houston, and the primary influence for the historical novel Love is a Wild Assault (wonderful! Out of print. Grab a copy if you can find one). Nearby Uncertain, Texas is a great place to visit. The model for my fictional town Deception, Uncertain was an overnight stop for riverboats on their way up from New Orleans
One of the riverboats that plied the waterways from New Orleans to Jefferson, Texas was the Mittie Stephens. It caught fire and sank one night, reportedly loaded with a fortune in gold to pay Confederate troops stationed in Jefferson. Neither the boat nor the gold has ever been found.
Buck McDivit, my cowboy gumshoe from Oklahoma, comes to east Texas to meet his only known relative. His Aunt Emma is murdered before he gets there. He soon learns he has inherited an island in Caddo Lake, along with a marina and fishing lodge. This is when his troubles begin.
Many things haven't changed in the Old South. Racism still abounds in Deception, led by racist judge Jefferson Travis, and his two skinhead reprobates Humpback and Deacon John. Buck also meets beautiful Lila Richardson and is instantly enamored. Oh, and he gets drunk and sees a ghost his first night in town.
Ghost of a Chance is now available for the first time in ebook form. It's available, complete with new cover and newly edited, 71,000 words, at Amazon.com (Kindle version) and Smashwords.com (Nook, Sony Reader, Kindle, etc.) for the ridiculously low price of $1.29.
If you have an e-reader, please check out Ghost of a Chance. If you don't, loosen up and buy one. If you're an avid reader, you'll be glad you did.