07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Vanishing Man by Paty Jager

Growing up, we had a close friend of the family who was a 60+-year-old bachelor. Louie umpired Little League and Babe Ruth baseball games and rode for ranches. He'd take my brothers and I on his trips checking on cattle in the mountains. He'd arrive bright and early in the morning and load us and our horses up and head to the area that he had to check out. Those were fun days riding the mountain sides and checking on cattle.

He also would umpire the Babe Ruth tournament in Milton-Freewater, Oregon every summer. As each one of my siblings and I became old enough to drive, he'd take us along. He'd drive over, umpire all day, and we'd drive him home. It was a two hour drive through a mountain pass. But it was the end of summer and the only unsavory conditions would be rain.

The summer it was my turn to drive, I rode over with Louie, sat reading a book while he worked all day at the tournament, and then I slid under the steering wheel to drive home when  the game was over. Louie tossed his gear in the back of his hatchback, eased his bulk down into the passenger seat, and asked me to hand him is spit can. He was a true cowboy. He chewed tobacco and everything he owned, car, trailer, clothes, even his horse and dog smelled like the sweet stench of chewing tobacco, so just sitting in one of his vehicles with a can full of spit was enough to gag a person, but we endured because he was fun to be around.

We left Milton-Freewater after dark. Before I even turned on the road that took us over the mountain pass, Louie was snoring in the passenger seat. I was buzzing along(I'm noted as being the lead foot of the family) when I drove into dense fog.  A man shuffled across the road. His clothes were torn, his hair long and shaggy. Before I could hit the brakes, I drove through him. My heart pound in my chest and boomed in my ears as I pushed on the brakes.

Louie stirred. "What was it a deer?"

I swallowed and said, "Yeah."  How was I to explain I saw/hit a man that disappeared. I slowly picked up speed and stared in the rear-view mirror. The more I tried to visualize the man, I realized he had been colorless, gray, with a light shining around his form.

Years later as I researched the Whitman Massacre, a chill ran up my spine and I have often wondered, could he have been one of the men killed during that ill-fated altercation?



Kathy Otten said...

Creepy! Great Halloween tale. Sounds like a ghost, no thump or anything. Is that the area where the massacare took place? I understand the spirit doesn't wander to far from the place where it happened until their issue is resolved and they can move on.

Carole St-Laurent said...

Ooh, love a good ghost story. I've a good one on my blog if you're interested.

I love it better when it's not happening to me. :-)

LisaRayns said...

Nice story. Spooks-ville!

Judith Ashley said...

Great story, Paty. And isn't it interesting that when we have these kinds of experiences we try to explain them away or don't even talk about them. No wonder you write so convincingly about spirits in your "Spirit Trilogy".

Susan Macatee said...

Creepy, Paty! I love to hear good ghost stories close to Halloween.

We had one in our local paper about a girl who comes out of a local cemetery wearing a prom dress. She asks a passing motorist for a ride, gets in then when the driver turns around, she's gone. She supposed to be the ghost of a young women buried there in the 1930s.

D. McCollum D. McCollum said...

Great true story! I love ghost stories that aren't creepy and violent. Nice job!


Paty Jager said...

Kathy, the area this happened it could have been a trapper, one of the people from the massacre who got away but was wounded, or it could have been someone from any number of attacks.

Carole, I agree! It's better to let others have these happenings.

Lisa, Yes!

Judith, True! I've never told my family about this. I figured they'd think I was crazy. And the reason I write Nez Perce stories is because I saw a ghost of a warrior when I was riding my horse on the mountain behind our house.

Susan, Great story! That would make a great story for a book.

Hi Diana, Thanks! It's easy to write when it happened to you.

Sarah Raplee said...

You must have been scared to death! Thank goodness he was a ghost!

People tend to forget that 'we are but one step away from Eternity.' We share the universe with more than we know.

I hope more people share their close encounters of the paranormal kind this month at RTG!

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, no kidding! I'm glad he was a ghost but at the same time I shook most of the way home and to this day I get nervous when I drive in fog.

Darcy said...

Whoa, terrific real-life story to start the month of Halloween. It sure had my blood turning icy cold. Thanks for sharing it, Paty.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Great story, Paty. I love to hear true ghost stories like that. Better to hear than experience!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, creepy. I love a good ghost story.

morgan said...

I thought Louie would be the vanishing man because there aren't too many left like him.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Darcy, Glad you enjoyed the post.

Hi Caroline. I wish I had heard rather than experienced it.

Thanks Ella!

Morgan, That is so true. He was a unique individual. We gave him a bad time about the fact he was on the work crew that made one of the crookedest roads in the county where I grew up. WE always asked him just how much they were all drinking when they built that road. (It's rattlesnake grade between Lewiston, ID and Enterprise, OR)

Lady Chatterley said...

That sounds a lot like the ghost stories in urban legends or myths. That story someone shared about a girl in a prom dress who hitches a ride is one of the stories in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a book of "true" ghost stories, urban legends, etc. I am curious how that story was presented in that newspaper and if that is where the author got the idea.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you for stopping in and chatting Lady Chatterley.

Anonymous said...

There have been many times when I'm riving in fog or late at night I could have sworn I saw someone on the road or at the side. Fortunately, I've never driven through them. I always chalk it up to my tired eyes or imagination, but now you've made me wonder.

Paty Jager said...

Maggie, I have had the wisps that I've wondered while driving in fog or at night but nothing like that night when I'm positive I drove right through him.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great story, Paty! I believe in ghosts because there's more out there than we can explain otherwise. And I didn't know about the Nez Perce connection-- thanks for sharing!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Lynn! Thanks for stopping by! I have always believed in ghosts, I just don't like the eerie feeling that comes when one sees them.