More from “Ghost of the Karankawa”.

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I awoke at three in the morning so suddenly and completely that it shook me. I had heard something from inside my dreams that couldn’t have been from that shadowy realm. Was it a scream? A screech?

I quietly donned my clothing, grabbed the leash and put it on Franklin, and took my key and made sure the door was locked behind me. We went downstairs.

Noreen wasn’t on duty. There was a lamp on behind the front desk, but otherwise the place was deserted. The front door was unlocked. I opened it and made sure the outside knob would turned freely for when I was ready to come back inside.

I yearned for a cigarette, even though I’m not a smoker.

The night was cool and the downtown lights were nearly nonexistent.

I noticed there was someone not far away, standing at the corner.

Franklin let out a suppressed woof!

“Did you hear it?” he asked.

“I heard it,” I admitted.

“Every night,” he said.

He walked towards me and came into the dim light. He was a middle-aged fellow of about fifty years, which is to say, close to my own age. He wore a suede leather fedora hat over his straight, gunmetal-steel hair, and a brown cardigan. His eyebrows were dark and curled up dramatically.

“You’re one of the archaeologists,” I said.

“That’s right. The name’s Randall. Randall Marshall. My friends call me Randy.” He offered his hand and I shook it.

“Bill Travis,” I said. “What do you make of the screeches, Randy?”

He turned back to face the town and moved his head to and fro, as if attempting to penetrate the far darkness. “At first I thought they were soon bird, like an owl or something. Peacocks can screech like that, you know, although I haven’t seen any around here. Who knows. Maybe a wild cat of some kind.”

“You don’t believe that, though,” I said.

“I don’t believe anything. I’m not in the believing business.”

I nodded.

“What are you doing in Anahuac, Mr. Travis? It’s a nice town, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not exactly a closely guarded secret get-away spot.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. That is, since you’re not in the believing business,” I countered, and he laughed.

“Please don’t tell me you’re in league with Wolf.”

“What or who the hell is Wolf?” I asked.

“Wolf is a guy. He’s a bigfoot hunter.” The disdain in his voice was dreadfully apparent.

“I’ve never met a bigfoot hunter, and I thought I’d met all kinds of Homo sapien.”

“He’s an innocuous enough fellow,” Randy said. “You know, I wish I had a cigarette. My wife…helped me to quit. I miss it so.”

“Yeah. What is a bigfoot hunter doing in Anahuac?” I asked. “And where is he this time of night?”

“He has one of the rooms here, but he mostly sleeps during the day. I’ve given him permission to camp out at the dig, particularly after what happened there the other night.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“The place got all torn to hell, is what happened. Some of our tools and equipment was thrown around and busted up, including the seismograph and side-scanning sonar we were about to use to get a good solid image of the interior of the mound. We finally got the seismograph working again, and have been able to get some useful data, but nothing that could have compared with the images we could have gotten had not the sonar been wrecked.”

“That’s too bad,” I said. “Why scan a Caddo mound?”

“Not Caddo. Karankawa. I’m almost certain of that.”

“I thought you weren’t a believer,” I said.

Randy Marshall sighed. By this time I was certain that he was the head of the project and that there was a big ‘P’, a little ‘h’, and a big ‘D’ after his name whenever it was written out on the heading of a published research paper. “In science, we look for data that predicts other data. Then when we look for and find the other data as predicted, it lends more weight to the original hypothesis.”

“I know all about the scientific method. There’s one thing, though, that I have found that pretty much steals the thunder of science.”

“Nothing steals the thunder of science,” Randy said. “But go ahead. What is this mystical anomaly?”

“The unexplained and unexplainable.”

“You’re one of those,” he said, and laughed.

“No,” I said. “I’m one of a kind. One you apparently haven’t run across yet. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe with your own eyes.”

“I doubt it.”

“That sort of proves my point.”

“I doubt that too,” Randy Marshall, likely Ph.D. intoned.

“No. It does. How can you test for a thing if it’s not in the realm of your own hypothesis?”

“Hmph.”

We watched as Franklin paid special attention to the nearby lamppost.

“Tell you what,” I said. “What if I told you that I could put into doubt one of your most closely-held theories with only a few words, On the subject of, say, the theory of gravity?”

“I’d like to see you try,” he said.

I reached in my pocket and removed a quarter. I held it up where he could see it and then dropped it. It fell to the sidewalk with a loud, tinny clatter and rolled off into the street.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Gravity,” Randy said.

“Okay. Now, please tell me what that would be if we were not standing on the surface of a gigantic and live electromagnet spinning in space?”

“I don’t follow.”

“How do you know that what you were observing was not the effects of electromagnetics, simply and only? They say all emanations in the observable universe are somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, but they don’t put gravity on that spectrum, now do they? Instead they say it’s the weakest of the nuclear forces and let it go at that. But none of them know what it is. Everyone who has ever observed this thing called ‘gravity’ has done it while standing on an electromagnet. Even the Apollo astronauts.”

Randy smiled. “I have a friend who is a Jesuit priest who talks like you do. He would argue with Satan and probably convince him to return to heaven.”

“I have a Jesuit priest friend as well. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always supported Notre Dame football.”

Randy laughed. “Me too.”

“Now, as a scientist you’re not supposed to like your theories. In fact, you’re supposed to try to disprove them.”

“I get your point,” he said. “The truth is, I don’t know for sure that it’s a Karankawa mound. I believe it to be a Karankawa mound and not Caddo.”

“Might I stop by your dig tomorrow?” I asked.

“Certainly. We’re ten feet into the mound. Within the next few days we’ll be at the center, and we will have found him.”

“Him?” I asked.

“The Karankawa Chief,” Randy said.

“That’s an interesting hypothesis,” I said. “I’ll try to find my way out there. That is, if my wife isn’t ready to head back to Austin.”

“We’ll hear the screech again tonight at some point,” Randy said.

“That’s what the Sheriff said.”

“What do you think of him?” I asked.

“The Sheriff? Nice enough fellow. He tends to believe there’s a ghost out there somewhere, and that the cries in the night are a ten-foot tall sasquatch.”

“Well,” I said. “That could be because there’s some kind of ghost haunting the area and there’s a ten-foot tall sasquatch dogging its trail.”

Randy laughed again.

“You’re an Austin man, huh?”

“Austinius bullshittus,” I said.

“What do you do for a living, Mr. Travis?”

“Now that you wouldn’t believe if I spent ten years writing it all out for you. Good night, Randy Marshall, man of science.”

“Good night, Bill Travis, man of mystery.”

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