Attack of the Skinwalker
From E-book LAST GRAND ADVENTURE, a 6,000 mile Burro wagon trip in the 1990s
We tried to move along as quickly as possible while we were on the Indian reservations because the redskins were so friendly!
Now, I know you’re shaking your head and saying that I’m not making any sense, and you’re asking, “Why should he (West) move on quickly if the Indians were friendly?”
The Indians were so friendly that we had no time to rest! We were camping within the boundaries of the highway fences in order to avoid trespassing on their land; and because we were so handy to anyone traveling by, we had visitors night and day! There was seldom any let-up in the flow of visitors and sometimes I’d have to tell a passel of them, “Go home now so we can rest!”
It’s funny but we often had Indians coming up to us and asking, “Why didn’t you stop ‘back there’ at my house for the night?” As though we should have known, without being told, that we were welcome to pull up with a six up team of donkeys and a tandem covered wagon into their yards and camp.
Not all of our visitors were friendly of course. One night I awoke with a start to hear Bean (my jenny burro) screaming in terror. I had tied her to the wagon on her long line and single-leg hobble and she was jerking wildly on the wagon as I reached for my boots.
I stumbled outside to see that the moon had just came up and had illuminated a man wrapped in a white blanket standing by our back door. The sudden illumination of this ghastly figure had terrified all my Guys “Keep walking!” I commanded. “You are scaring my burros!”
A teen-ager’s voice answered me from the folds of the blanket, “I didn’t mean to scare them!”
“Keep walking!” I repeated.
He obeyed and as he moved away into the darkness, Carol and I hurried out to check on our animals. Bean was glad to see us and stopped her screaming. I could see she hadn’t been hurt.
Dean had been. When the boy in the white blanket had startled the burros they had run into the five-strand barbed-wire highway fence. Dean was tangled in it and Beef and Chaps had climbed up over Dean’s body and were on the other side of the fence!
It took us awhile to cut the barbed wire away and get Dean untangled and onto his feet, and then bring the two burros on the far side of the fence back around through a Texas gate further up the highway. It felt like an hour, but was probably only fifteen minutes before we had all six tied up side by side along the highway fence.
Carol brought the flashlight then, and we examined the team. Bean, Rags, and Chaps were unharmed. Disney’s face was cut and he had a puncture wound on his chest. Beef and Dean had numerous cuts on their legs and chests, and a long thin flap of skin had been pealed off of Dean’s face and was hanging down over his muzzle still attached at the bottom.
We cut that flap of skin off with scissors and then cleaned and anointed all the wounds, soothing and talking as we worked to keep the animals calm. We left them, tied short to the fence for the rest of the night.
I mentioned what happened to one of our visitors the nest day.
“Did he freeze you?” was the response I got.
I cocked my head over to the side and said, “What?”
“It was a Skin-walker,” the man explained. “They are thieves that come in the night to steal from you, and they have a powerful dust that they can sprinkle on you to freeze you, so that you cannot move. Then they can take what they want and you can’t stop them.”
“It was a teen-ager trying to make trouble…” I said, laughing it off. “I told him to git, and he got!”
“You can only kill them with some ashes on your bullet or ashes on your trigger finger!” the man avowed sincerely. “Yea right an Anglo Wagoneer shoots young Indian on Navaho Indian reservation do you really thing that would be a good idea” I asked?
That night we found a nice little camp site on the crest of a hill just off the Hi-way. No sooner that we had set up camp they began to arrive. Truck loads of Indians with gifts of food and soda pop. All coming to hear the story of the aborted attack of THE SKIN WALKER”: the funny thing was most wanted us to come home with them.
It turned out to be a good thing we had stocked up with hay at Tuba City. We left Window Rock without any. The reason was because the hay trucks were late and the place we were waiting for them was an Indian bazaar full of children who wanted to climb under on and over my Guys I was a worried man! So I left be for the hay trucks arrived. Praying LORD JESUS I need hay.
It never pays to worry though and by noon that day I was able to flag down a hay truck and buy ten, two-string bales of alfalfa. Then I was satisfied but God wasn’t. He wanted to remind me that he was the one ultimately in control so right after we crossed the Arizona/New Mexico border God sent Lawrence Charley, a Vietnam vet, to us with five bales of grass hay in his pick-up truck.
“Thank-you,” I told him, “I’ll accept a couple, but I can’t carry all that hay!”
“You have to take it all!” Lawrence Charley responded. “I’m not taking even one stem of it back home with me. I brought it for you and I’m unloading every bit of it right here!” He proceeded to do just that!
“Thank you, Lord, it’s more than enough,” I whispered Heavenward before I stacked two bales on top of the ten I had loaded earlier, put two bales inside the sheepherder, and put one in Carol’s seat. (She would have to walk for two days.)
I believe God must have responded “Oh no it’s not! I’ll teach you to trust me!”