(Photo: Some rights reserved by Jcdubya)
When my Grandpa was very young (maybe 5 years old) he noticed a strange blue flame rising from the ground on the property that his family owned. After a little while, the flame went back into the ground and disappeared. This wasn’t one of those mysterious flames that played hard to get. Rather, this strange fire revealed itself to my Grandpa multiple times, as well as, to the entire neighborhood. Over several decades, this blue fire would just rise out of the ground in Mixtlan, linger for a few seconds, and disappear. Three years ago, someone got smart and unearthed a small jar filled with gold at the exact spot where the mysterious flame would appear. No, it wasn’t one of my family members who dug it up.
When Grandpa was older and had a family of his own in Sonora, Mexico, he witnessed a ghost pull the covers off of my Great Tio Sebastian. The entire family was sleeping outside in the yard because of the intense, Mexican-summer heat. Grandpa Next Door could only describe the ghost as a woman dressed in white, but without a face. The woman would come straight through their yard wall; probably because it was thirty feet high and why bother with climbing that thing when you can just go through it? That would have been so convenient for me and my brothers as we went back and forth between our house and our Grandpa Next Door’s house. The ghost-faceless woman would then go into the abandoned house which was directly behind my Grandpa’s house. Grandpa described the neighbor’s house as big with a lot of rooms, but decrepit and falling apart. The house had no roof. It had to be haunted if it looked like that, right?
One day the owner of the haunted house hired two workers to make adobe on the same property as she watched them while they worked. The workers hit something wooden as they were digging for clay to make the adobe. When the owner heard that they had found something, she immediately sent them home for the day and told them to come back the next day. It was only about 3pm which was very strange to the workers. The next day, they came back only to be fired by the owner who was not a very nice woman.
Sometime after these events, Grandpa learned that the owner had found a huge wooden box full of pure gold coins. As soon as the woman found the money, the Ghost Faceless Woman stopped walking through my Grandpa’s yard and was never seen again.
On another night back when Grandpa was 15 and still living in Mixtlan, he waited for his dad and the rest of the family to get into bed and then snuck out for a night on the town. Of course, the reason he was sneaking out was because his dad didn’t allow the kids out after dark. Grandpa was being naughty, but he was not drunk at the time. I asked him. That was kind of awkward.
While he was hanging out with his friends in a place known as Barrio Alto, Grandpa heard the sounds of a mariachi playing in the distance. The music was beautiful and so Grandpa bid his friends “adios” and went to find where the mariachi was playing. When he came to the place where he heard the music playing there was no mariachi to be found. Shortly thereafter, Grandpa heard the mariachi playing in a different section of the village. So off he went in hot pursuit because the mariachi sounded beautiful and he wanted to check them out on Myspace later. This time Grandpa thought that the music was coming from the Plaza, but when he got there, no mariachi. This happened a third time with the same exact results and so he decided to call it a night since it was close to 1 am.
To return home, Grandpa had to cross the river. There were only two “bridges” that he could chose from; a series of stones that he had to leap to in the dark and an actual bridge that was made out of wood. Since he didn’t want to die he chose the wooden bridge. When he got to it he noticed a black dog on the other side of the bridge which began to cross when he did. Grandpa thought nothing of it because it wasn’t a very large dog. When the dog met him in the middle of the bridge, Grandpa became paralyzed with fear because the dog had suddenly grown to be as tall as he was. No, it wasn’t on it’s hind legs.
As the giant dog began smelling him, Grandpa started praying…hard. He felt the fiery heat of the dog’s breath as it sniffed him. He could no longer hope that it was just a figment of his imagination. Finally, the “dog” turned around and went back the way it came. As it walked away it decreased in size until it looked like just another normal black dog again.
Grandpa decided to go back to town for a little bit before trying to cross the bridge. Unfortunately, there was to be no escaping the “dog” as it popped up at the Plaza also. He thought about trying his luck at jumping from stone to stone in pitch black, but he was still more afraid of that than the weird, shape-shifting dog. He decided to give the wooden bridge one more shot. He crossed it the second time without sign of the “dog”; well at least at first. When he was almost home, Grandpa heard a bunch of chickens and neighborhood dogs making a huge ruckus. He turned to see the giant, demon dog jumping over a neighbor’s wall and then running off into the distance.
Grandpa, having seen enough, finally decided to make a break for it. When he got to the house he somehow bounded clear over his own wall out of sheer terror that the devilish dog was close behind (I told you jumping fences is just in our blood). His own dog was so startled at Grandpa’s newfound agility that it ran away from him crying in horror (or did it see something chasing behind him?). Grandpa flew into his house and the safety of his room only to be met with a terrible stench which stayed with him throughout the night. The smell of rotten eggs; the smell of sulfur; the smell of hell. There was no sleeping that night. He lay awake until 5 am when his dad told him to get started on the farm-work. After that night Grandpa was never naughty ever again…yeah, right!