Take a bottle, drink it down, pass it around.
This is a story that could (and probably did) happen in any small town. I realize that Burleson is no longer a small town, but there are still remnants of that folksy and rural past that exist and will never go away. Some call it “small town charm”, others “folklore”. I call it, in this case at least, creepy and unexplainable.
And that is how Kelly Clarkson came to exist. (I’m kidding, Kelly – love you! I know you read this. Don’t deny it.)
This story happened on a certain date at a certain time. What either of those are, I have no idea. I was 16 or 17 years old, which only means that I knew everything in the world, except what happened that night. For some reason, I am thinking it was a New Year’s Eve and it would have had to have been during my junior year of high school (1986/1987) because I was hanging out with a couple of friends that were one year older than me.
I don’t want to mention their names, so for the sake of this entry I’ll just call them Brooke Justice and Bill Gadbury.
So this guy that I just made up (or did I?) named Bill had a bitchin’ Camero. Well, it was bitchin’ in 1986/87. And I was the designated driver that night in his car. Of course, Bill and Brooke had been drinking and wanted to go to the spookiest cemetery around: Marystown, a very rural cemetery between Burleson and Joshua. What could go wrong, right?
And this is where the memory gets fuzzy, even though I did not drink back in those days. I recall driving Bill’s car out there, and I remember he and Brooke wanting to get out and walk around the cemetery. However, being the sober one, I put the kibosh on that. So I pulled up into the drive to turn around and head back into town. I headed east on Bethesda Road and then took a left (north) on Tarver Road right before the railroad tracks. (Wow. Talk about rural directions.)
My intent was to take the back roads back into town. But all that changed when, out of nowhere, a pair of headlights appeared in the rearview mirror. Right on my ass. Tarver Road is straight for quite a bit, so I thought I could just floor the gas on this bitchin’ Camero and lose this fool who came from nowhere.
Nope. Tried it. Didn’t work.
No matter how fast I went, the headlights behind me stayed constant. I cut through Briaroaks to the service road of I-35 (back when it was a two way road) to not only get us back in “public” view, but to also shorten the time and distance before we were back in town. Driving down the service road, I think I reached a speed of 110 MPH and the headlights behind me never once wavered.
At this point, I was in panic mode. Brooke was wanting me to pull over so he could extract some redneck justice. (Nice play on words there. Friends of Brooke will get it.) And Bill? He was just happy.
So my new goal was to drive to the police station and pull in the parking lot. I had no idea what was happening at that time – and still don’t – so I just wanted to get to a perceived “safe place”. Forget the fact that I had two underage dudes in the car who had been drinking, I just wanted to live.
I turned left onto Renfro Street from the service road, and the weirdest thing happened. The headlights behind me disappeared like they never even existed. But I know I was not the only person to see them. They were there, and then they were gone. The car that matched my 110 MPH – while maintaining a constant and specific distance from bumper to bumper – was gone.
So the reason this is all top of mind today is because the Marystown Cemetery is about to get an Historical Marker distinction. Actually, it happened earlier today.
110 MPH. Headlights in the rearview mirror that never wavered. A vehicle that disappeared.
And a story that “they” would never allow me to tell at the ceremony today.