Daddy liked to go outside in the evenings when it was sort of noisy quiet and the sun was beginning to set and the night bugs had just started making their sounds. He would walk out on the front porch and survey Kiowa Peak rising up eastward into the distance. Daddy had been there and climbed it too. Beth Ann had proudly pointed this out to me. And on one such semi-magical, country evening, he looked out into the distance and pondered the peak.
“Daddy carved my initials up there on a rock when I was only five-years-old,” Beth Ann announced to me.
“Why is it called Kiowa peak?” I asked.
“Well, it is named after one of the Indian tribes that lived here,” said Beth Ann. “It is special because it has a lost copper mine on it,” she said.
“Well, that has yet to be found,” said Daddy.
“But I suppose it is possible as it sits right there above the Salt fork of the Brazos, and both the Comanche and Apache Indians, and Spanish settlers used to roam about up there,” he said.
“Petey Simmons said that someone found evidence of Alien visits, too.” said Beth Ann.
Wow, I thought to myself. Aliens, right here in West Texas. Who could beat that? Just imagine why they would rather be here than California or even New York? Probably because there were less people to spot them. What if they were coming to take Lacy Jean away because she really didn’t belong here? I wondered what they looked like, little men with green skin, or big tall ones with huge heads and big black eyes. And did they wear cowboy hats on top of their little green heads and spurs on their little green ankles?
No matter, I sure bet they scared the howl right out of the coyotes up there, and probably even the ghosts of the Indians and the Spanish settlers too.
“Isn’t there something about gold and the Peak?” asked Beth Ann.
“Well, that too remains to be seen. Some explorers were supposed to have left some gold out there in the rolling plains, apparently some landmarks shifted. When they came back for it, they just couldn’t find it. Many people have searched for it, but nobody has found it,” said Daddy.
“It seems like a great deal of bad luck has happened to those folks who have looked for the treasure,” he said.
“Gee, like a curse?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t really know, but let’s just say that nobody has ever found a treasure, and that hearts have been broken, lives have been altered, and who knows, maybe some will continue to look and be disappointed,” said Daddy.
“I’ll bet the rattlesnakes guard the treasure, kinda like cobras do in Africa. They are probably so big and dangerous that people just can’t go near it and they have all those rocks up there, so there are probably just millions of snakes, too! I’ll bet the snakes have more of those treasure rocks and they slither and slide their greasy bodies all over them at night, and look out upon us with their red eyes and seething venom!” I exclaimed rather proud of myself over the image I had just created.
“Sure that must be exactly it. Like there aren’t snakes all over West Texas,” said Beth Ann scornfully as she gave me one of her I-am-almost-a-grown-up-and-you-are-not looks.
Daddy chuckled, I could see he was amused, but also lost in his own thoughts. We could tell he liked it out there as the dusk enveloped our tiny spot of the world. You know, just enjoying being lost in it by himself and all that. So we all three gazed out at the peak in the distance and daddy was quiet. I don’t know what he saw out there, maybe the peak, maybe the past, maybe even episodes of World War II that he had lived before. Beth Ann and I looked at each other, then tiptoed off, leaving him there to contemplate the Spanish missionaries, the Indians, and the Aliens converging through space and time and hiding spider rocks around the perimeter of the peak to be discovered by unsuspecting Texans trying to make their fortunes.