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Long, Long Road Home


By Teresa Holloway
Messenger Reporter
In the never-ending quest for spooky Hallows E’en stories, it is sometimes necessary to go above and beyond the call of the laptop. A long and arduous trek to havens of weird stories was necessary, as well as a high-dollar investment in the Cheap Coffee and Greasy Breakfast trade. This conglomeration of short shorts is from the best story tellers around – truckers. All the names are changed to prevent future Oujia Board incidents.
LONESOME HIGHWAYS – The waitress was on the ball. No sooner were the coffee cups emptied than she was hovering at the table side, smiling like a super model.
After her third such trip, Ronnie K. got down to business. “So, you’re asking about scary stuff on the road. There’s a lot of that, honestly. One time, I was just hitting 6th gear, almost up to 50 miles per hour when some dummy slammed his brakes on right in front of me and I…”
“Oh, sorry. You want some of my grits? You mean like spooky scary stories. Gotcha. Let me think a minute. Okay. I haven’t told anybody else this, but you got a nice face. You aren’t going to use my name, right?”
“Okay. I was on Highway 50 going through Nevada. They call that the Loneliest Road, you know it? It is, too. Anyway, I was tooling along about 60, it was one of those nights where the moon was so bright you could run with no headlights if you wanted to. I didn’t, of course. It was cool and I had the windows down a little, radio on. I was kind of sleepy. There’s not many places to stop a big truck out there. I might have been over my clock a little, or two hours, but with nowhere to pull in, I had to keep driving.
“Like I said, I was getting a little sleepy and thinking about parking on an off-ramp or wide shoulder or something, heck with a ticket, (off-ramp parking is illegal in Nevada and there aren’t any on 50, anyway) when I saw some eyeshine up ahead on the road.
“I slowed down to get a look. Something about those coyote packs out there always tickles me. I like to see all of them running around like a big furry wave. So I slowed way, way down. I mean, I was the only thing on the road. Probably could have just parked in the road and slept.
“So I’m looking at these eyeshines, creeping up closer and hoping I can get a picture on my go-pro. First thing I noticed, there was a lot, I mean a lot of eyeshines. Then I noticed some of them were way tall. People height, maybe. I was putt-putting right up on them though, creeping along in 4th.
“My curiosity was piqued, you know it? So I get real close. The whole pack is right on the side of the road maybe 20 yards from the hood. I rotated my little dash cam around and flicked my brights on.
“Then I cussed and locked all the doors. There was some people-sized things in that pack. Looked like coyotes standing on their hind legs, walking around. One of them was off by hisself a little ways, he was really big. I was kind of in shock I think. I been driving that desert for more than a decade and I’ve never seen anything like that.
“He put his head back and howled like a wolf, then the whole pack ran off out across the desert. The ones on two legs were running on two legs. I threw that Kenworth in gear and got the heck out of there. That’s a true story, miss. ‘Preciate the breakfast!”
Derek D. hails from Oregon and drives long distance, usually hauling beef, he explained. “Beef is a swinging load. Makes the reefer (refrigerated trailer) real unstable. I typically run from Colorado to Kansas to Amarillo then back to Oregon twice a week. I see a lot of strange, scary stuff. Especially in the desert.
“There was a woman walking on the side of the road one time. Quiet traffic night. I like to run at night, most of the weigh stations are closed,” he laughed. “Swinging beef is a (expletive) to get scaled right. Takes forever for it to stop swinging long enough to weigh in and you gotta do that for each axle. Anyhow, it’s cooler and there’s less traffic, too.
“So I was headed for Raton, came up out of Amarillo and was about an hour north of Dalhart wishing I could take my ten (Truckers must take ten hours off in each 24 hour period for sleep.) a little sooner. I was just driving along and I see this lady walking down the road. I’d been on that road for about an hour, like I said, and I hadn’t passed any dead cars, so I slowed down … she waved me off and I thought maybe she lived around there or something, just out for a midnight stroll. Takes all kinds, right?”
“About 10 miles later, I passed her again. Same lady, ten miles ahead of me. Same red puffy coat. Same long black hair. I slowed down again, kinda freaked out, really, like maybe I’d lost some time somewhere or something … I didn’t know what to think. Things get a little twisted when you’re really tired. I even checked my time clock on Qualcomm. She waved me off again.
“When I passed her the third time, it was about 20, 25 miles further north. I didn’t slow down. Fact, I sped up. That was some creepy (expletive). How some lady kept getting in front of me on a straight highway, not much in that part of 87, no other cars, no town close by … nothing but dirt and clear skies … that blew my mind. I went straight to the next rest area and locked it down. I didn’t make Raton that night. I slept for like ten hours. But I sat and just looked out the window for a little while, first. I was kind of scared I would see that red coat, honestly.”
By now, the steady stream of truckers at the same table had begun to raise the waitress’ hackles, and she expressed some doubt about intentions and reporters in general. Further up the interstate, however, were other truck stops.
Billy W.’s story was not only eerie, but heartwrenching. If only things could be un-heard …
“I don’t like to talk about this, it upsets my wife really bad, so don’t use my name, okay?”
“I was in Ohio, it was cold and icy. I think I heard it was the coldest winter they’d had in a decade. This was three years ago. I was on Interstate 70 headed toward Columbus. It was snowing, but that wasn’t the problem. Mostly it was the road mist coming up. Traffic was heavy considering the hour, bout 10 p.m., and the weather, I remember thinking.
“I was hoping I could find a slot in the truck stop, but given the amount of the rubber on the road, I wasn’t banking on it. Traffic had slowed to about 40 mph, and this SUV beside me had a couple kids in the back. They were cute as all get out. The little girl was just waving and waving at me. I got to missing my own kids, you know how that is. Folks seemed nice, too. Lots of times, the parents will start fussing with the kids, like it’s rude to wave or they think we’re pervs or something, but the mom in the front seat looked over to see what the little girl was waving at and smiled at me real nice. Dad even stuck his hand out the window and gave the ‘pull your air horn’ sign, them kids were cracking up.
“Anyway, traffic started moving out again, so I cranked her up to about 55 and away we went. Not even an hour later, now my memory gets sketchy here, everything came to a dead stop with no warning. I locked it up, trans and all, but I plowed right into the back of a moving van of some kind. All I remember thinking is ‘Thank God it’s not them kids I hit.’ I came to in the ambulance. I’d jack-knifed my empty trailer on that ice and flipped it over on the shoulder. That twisted my tractor onto its passenger side. Got banged up pretty bad. Busted my leg and hip on the gear stick. Seatbelt too loose, you know?
“So I’m on a gurney in the ER. There was a lot of folks in there. That was one bad, bad smash-up. Something like 30 cars, the EMT said. I wasn’t hurting a lot, I had some kind of drip bag over me. Over where the chairs were, I could see a lot of people waiting, some crying, some bleeding,” Billy paused.
“I noticed those kids from the SUV right off. That little girl was crying real quiet-like, sitting on her mom’s lap. The little boy looked shell-shocked. He was just sitting there holding on to his dad’s hand like a claw. They looked at me, too. I know that little girl recognized me because she waved across the room, still just bawling, poor kid.
“I must have fallen asleep after that. When I woke up, I was in a big room with about ten other injured folks. I didn’t see the little family so I asked the nurse in there about them. It took a few minutes to get it across who I was talking about. Thankfully, that little girl was cute as a button with her curly long hair and navy blue coat,” Billy abruptly stopped talking.
“Give me a second, okay?” Billy left the table, headed for the men’s room. “Okay, sorry, I just still get a little weepy … I got a girl about that age … anyway, the nurse realized who I was talking about. She came over by my bed and stood real close to me. She had a big frown on her face and I thought, “Oh, no, no.”
“She asked me where I’d seen them, and I told her the story about the kids waving, dad pulling the air horn and all of them laughing. First in the SUV, says I, on the road earlier tonight. Then in the waiting room after everyone got here. They were all sitting together over there by that wall where the water fountain is, I explained it to her really clearly.
“She screwed up her face like she was going to cry. I knew then. I knew something bad happened. She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone but family, but she cried and told me anyway.
“You see, that whole family was killed in the accident. The little girl died not ten minutes after she got to the ER, was why the nurse remembered her so easy. Internal injuries. That SUV was crushed between two other tractor-trailers about half a mile up from me. The door by that water fountain leads down the hall to the emergency morgue, the nurse told me.
“Hey, thanks for listening. Please don’t print my name, okay? And don’t get between tractors on the interstate.” Billy wiped his eyes on his sleeve. “I gotta go,” he said, walking away.
Just to lighten things up, one more story got added to the pile. Wayne R. from Missouri was a big fan of Patrick Swayze back in the day. “That man could act,” he said. “I been driving about 18 years. Back when I first started, I watched a movie he was in about an illegal trucking run. It was called Black Dog. You remember that? No? Well, anyway, he was rockin’ in that movie. The black dog is a hallucination truckers get when they get too sleepy. If you see it, you probably gonna crash and die.
“Well, one night I was coming south through the Texas panhandle. That place sucks, no offense. But sure enough, on 287 just north of Dumas I see a black dog. Scared the (expletive) out of me. I drove on through but I shut it down pretty quick. I saw that dog two or three more times, I’m pretty sure, before I shut down.
“So I’m laying in my bunk, trying to shake the willies, and I hear two sharp barks. Wasn’t but maybe three trucks out there and I knew they didn’t have dogs because we’d been yakking earlier. I get up and look out the curtains and sure as (expletive), there’s that dog!
“Now I’m really about to lose it. I get on the horn and ask the other drivers to peek out and see the dog. By the time I pull my curtains back again, it’s gone! Guys thought I was a nutter, for sure. Next morning, I get up, sun’s shining, hotter than blue blazes of course. I head inside for a shower and there’s that (expletive) dog again! Standing right by my truck! That’s it, I figured. I’m not moving that rig today. I walked way around that joker.
“When I came back out, I didn’t see the dog and by then, I’d pretty much convinced myself I was just dreaming the whole thing. I walk around and check the tires, fifth wheel, locks, lights … you know the drill. I pop the door and start to climb up and something pushes my leg real hard. I look down, there’s that dog! Turned out the stinking thing was real, after all!
“I still got that dog. Goes everywhere with me,” Wayne laughed. “Now I don’t worry about that no more,” he grinned. β€œAnd I named him Joker.”
Safe travels, drivers. Thanks for the stories.