| My father, Sam, and I
had driven all the way from Gladewater, in the eastern part of the state, to visit
our older brother, Ocee, in the west Texas oil fields near Monahans.
We had been on the road since early that morning, and it was now late into the
night. We were desperately in need of some rest. When we arrived at Ocee‘s house,
his wife told us he was still out at the oil rig and wouldn’t be home for several
more hours. The site had been shut down after the crew left for another drilling
job, so he was doing what was called “dry watching.” In other words, he was the
night watchman. |
Although we should have gotten some sleep and waited
for him to come home, my father wanted to drive out to the oil lease to see him.
As we approached the well, we all said, in unison, “There he is!” I don’t know
what my brother or my father saw, but I saw a man in khaki, wearing a hard hat,
struggling with some equipment near the center of the derrick floor. We parked
by the well and walked up the ramp to the platform above. The three of us stood
there looking at an empty workspace. During the brief time he was out of our sight,
the man had vanished. My father instructed us to spread out to see if we could
find him. There were several tool sheds scattered over the area, and we searched
every one of them thoroughly, to no avail. Then we noticed that his car wasn’t
there either. We sat waiting and wondering who we had seen on the rig earlier.
After what seemed like an eternity, we saw the headlights of a car coming
up the dirt road. As it came to a halt, we recognized it as Ocee‘s car. He hopped
out, shouting, “Hi Pop! Hi Sammy and Eddie!” He explained that he had gone to
another site for a minute to check on it. We asked him if there had been anyone
else helping him at the well. I can understand why he looked puzzled when we told
him what had happened earlier. He assured us that he was the only one working
this rig, and no one else had been there. None of us could account for what we
had seen that night. It remains a mystery to this day. Maybe we saw a ghost, or
maybe we just needed some sleep.
© George Lester