Do you believe in ghosts? How ‘bout angels? Miracles? Taro cards? I grew up believin’ in Heaven and all its assorted angelic inhabitants and their counterparts in the singed black hats. Reincarnation wasn’t taught in Sunday School but we were encouraged to believe that souls existed. So, with this sort of background it was easy for me to accept ghosts. Especially when I saw the ‘ghost of Yankee Bill Summit.’
This experience happened many years ago, but I was a full grown man with a full grown moustache. It was a crisp October and Lee and I had driven to Yankee Bill in northern Nevada. We and the cowboys had worked cows all day. Since we still had another days work we stayed over at the old sheep headquarters high up in those beautiful mountains.
That evening Antonio had cooked up a great Basque supper; friend sweet peppers, spuds, codfish, dutch oven bread and his special chicken fried steak. We sat around the table in the company of Ten High and Vino Fino, smoking and getting beat at checkers by Juan Garay.
It was cold and a moonless night when we retired. Lee and I took a room right off the dining area. We layed out our rolls on a couple of cots and waited for everyone to hit the sack. The wood floor of this old sheep headquarters carried each footstep like it was next to ya.
Late into the night Lee started talkin’ in his sleep and woke me. He rolled over and shut up but someone was standin’ over me. I strained to see him by the starlight. He was pullin’ his shirt over his head so I couldn’t see his face but he had on chinks, boots and big Mexican spurs.
I stared at him hard and I could see the dresser behind him, through him. I sat up to get a better look. I realized I was wide awake. I said, “What are you doin’ here?” He didn’t answer so I swiped at him. He jumped back but his boots didn’t make a sound on the wood floor.
He stayed in the room as long as I stared at him. Finally I lay on my back, closed my eyes and willed myself to sleep.
Now, cowboys are a superstitious lot so I didn’t say much next mornin’. I made a few inquiries whether any old buckaroos had died up there. Nobody knew. Nobody but me, I guess. I know. I know ‘cause I’ve seen him … the ghost of Yankee Bill.
Visit BaxterBlack.com for more information. Baxter Black is the country’s most popular large animal veterinarian, is a cowboy poet, humorist, speaker, sagebrush versifier, radio commentator and newspaper columnist.