Good evening, my friend.
My name is Giuseppe del Toro, but you may call me Mr. Bull, if you wish. I am not sure what brings you here, but I guess you would like to hear one of my stories. Well, I actually have a ghost story for you, if you wish.
As A Child Edit
Many years ago, when I was a little boy, I saw a middle-aged man walk in my small town. He must’ve lived to be a half-century, but he seemed very ill. There were a couple of people helping him move forward, and he seemed like he was to die any moment. One of the people crowding him knocked on my door. My mother answered the door.
“He wants to see a child, any child. Please.”
I ran to my mother. “Yes, mother?”
“Go with the man.”
I never questioned my mother. She would whip out the paddle if I did.
The man I walked with had a bowler hat on, and seemed very clean-shaven. I wondered if he was someone important. He took me to see the ill man.
“Here’s a child for you…”
“Oh, perfect. What’s your name?”
“Giuseppe… a very unusual name. I like it. I have a very common name. I’m Jack.”
The man extended his open palm to my small hand, and I tried my best to shake his hand. He laughed.
“You need to see a doctor fast. Hurry up with your business…”
“Ah, right. I have something I’d like to tell you. It’s something that happened to me a long time ago, Giuseppe. You’ll remember, won’t you?”
I nodded vigorously in return.
Jack tried to laugh, but coughed instead. “Okay, here goes…”
“Many years ago, I used to live in a farm. It was in the middle of a prairie, a couple of days on horseback from this town, actually. I moved away from the farm after a time, but I left something important there. It was an heirloom from my father. It was a rusty revolver that he used to shoot with. He knew all sorts of parlor tricks. When my father died, I had meant to bury him with the revolver, but I misplaced it somewhere in the farm. My father’s spirit is restless, and I can feel it walking the Earth right now. He needs his revolver, little Giuseppe. So when you’re older… please promise me you’ll go to the farm.”
My little eyes bulged and I started to nod slowly. Jack smiled and handed me a piece of yellow paper.
“Here is a map…”
The man in the bowler hat rolled his eyes. “Are you done scaring the kid with your ghost stories?”
Jack coughed in response. “Yes, yes, take me to the doctor.”
The man in the bowler hat waved the rest of his posse forward, and soon Jack was nothing but a distant memory. He sputtered and wheezed the whole way out of my sight, but all I could remember was his small story. It wasn’t very scary, but what if it was true? Maybe there was a rusty revolver that needed to be buried.
The Journey Edit
Every once in a while in my young life, the story nagged at me, but in my teenage years I misplaced the map. It was only during my coming-of-age, my eighteenth birthday, while I was doing some spring cleaning, did I find the map again. All of a sudden, I clearly remember Jack’s story, and I knew that I had to do what he said. Something was telling me, perhaps even his father’s ghost.
I told my mother I was leaving for a couple of days and set out on my quest. Cars were out of my price range, but my town still had several horses available for rent, and I had ridden horses many times in my youth. I went to the stable owner and chose a beautiful, brown horse with a healthy black mane. Before I set out, I made the owner take a look at my map.
“The man who gave this to me said the farm would be two days away on horseback. Do you know how I can get there now?”
The stable owner studied the map long and hard. “You’ll have to take the old horse trail northeast. There’ll probably be signs from there. This map is rather old, I’m afraid.”
I nodded my thanks and began my journey.
Along my way to the farmhouse, I travelled across a cliffside. I saw a man in a top hat just staring into the horizon. I was confused by this man and dismounted the horse.
“Do you need any help?”
“No, but perhaps you do.”
“...Well, uh, I am trying to get to a farmhouse up northeast.”
The man in the top hat chuckled.
“Yes, the farmhouse… I’d be scared if I were you, though. Aren’t there ghosts prowling around?”
“You don’t believe in that sort of thing, do you Mister?”
The man in the top hat turned around. He had a thick brown mustache, and looked rather well-groomed.
“The real question is, do you, Mr. Bull?”
I stepped back for a second. “Mr… Bull?”
“You remind me of a bull. Your looks. And your mission. Rather headstrong, actually. And you’re sure you want to carry on with this?”
“I must find out, Mister.”
The man in the top hat smiled. “Very well. I may very well meet you at the farmhouse. There’s a fine spot right around it, as a matter of fact.”
“Well, if you say so… and your name?”
“Keep on calling me Mister. It’s a nice change of pace to be Misters and not be bound by names, right Mr. Bull?”
The man in the top hat looked back to the horizon. He was a rather weird individual, but we all have our secrets. I remounted the horse and went at high speeds. The man never left his spot on his cliff. He just stared into the horizon.
My next encounter was very close by. My horse trotted over some old train tracks as we entered what seemed to be a ghost town. There was nobody around, except for an old woman walking in the middle of the road.
“Do you need any help Miss?” I called out.
She turned to face me. “Help… maybe…” She croaked absentmindedly.
“Are you all alone?” I asked.
“Alone… yes. I’ve been alone for… quite some time. Ever since they started making roads… everyone moved away. Except me, of course… this is my land.”
The old woman nodded. “Yes… where are you headed, stranger?”
“To a farmhouse in the northeast. I have a map, if you could help me.”
“Map… yes, let me see.”
I dismounted my horse and handed her the old yellow piece of paper.
“Ah, yes… I know this area. Keep following the trail… there’s another ghost town right before the river. Go through it quickly, it’s rather dangerous. There’s a bridge on the other side. It used to be full of gamblers, but people go where they can make a living, you know?”
I nodded. “Thank you so much.”
“Wait.” She croaked. “Follow me to the General Store…”
“You remind me a lot of another man I saw, a long time ago… he was near death, but I patched him right up, I did. Saved his life, gave him a gun quite like this one.”
The woman entered the General Store and came back with an old revolver and a couple ammunition boxes for it.
“This, you’ll need this for protection on these roads. Please, be careful… there’s ghosts around, you know. Everywhere you look.”
I took the gun. “Thank you very much, Miss…”
She laughed. “I’m not important anymore. Just know me as the woman who helped you out.”
“Okay… see you around, Miss.” I said.
The strangest thing happened to me right after I got the revolver. I saw the old woman waving to me before I mounted my horse. As I left the ghost town, I turned around one last time to look at her.
She was gone.
The Farmhouse Edit
I had no other encounters on the way to the farmhouse. The ghost town that the woman had mentioned was just that- nobody was in it. Not even another old woman. I quickly rode through and rode across the bridge she had mentioned. I had never ventured so far away from home myself.
The next thing I saw were amber waves of grain, like in the song. This also must’ve been the prairie Jack mentioned in his story. The map was very detailed from here. I followed it almost exactly. I was the only man on the horse trail. There was not a single other sight, not even an animal. It was spooky, being alone for so long, but I went ahead anyways.
Finally, the farmhouse was within my sights. What I had journeyed so far to see. There was an entrance to the property, but I could not see a name. There were several buildings on the property, and it was then I realized I would probably have to search all of them in order to find the rusty revolver Jack had mentioned.
I dismounted my horse and tied it to one of the posts around the property. Before I started poking my nose where it didn’t belong, I decided to look for the grave Jack had mentioned. I didn’t have to look far.
I saw not only one, but three graves, on top of a hill that overlooked the property. They were right next to each other. Perhaps it was a family plot.
“So that’s where I need to go…” I whispered. But first I had a revolver to find.
I studied the property. There was an old tower, a barn, a large house, and other buildings scattered around. Using my intuition, I guessed that Jack and his family would have lived in the large house. So I cautiously approached the front door of the house. I tried to open the door. Of course, it was locked.
I studied the door, and saw there were some hinges that could be blown off. Trespassing on a dead man’s property was said to be cursed by my mother, but my fool-hardiness got the better of me. I took out the revolver the old woman had given me. I had rarely used guns, and certainly never a revolver this old, but I figured most guns work the same. I opened the chamber, and slowly loaded it. Six bullets fitted in the chamber before I closed it again. I clicked the safety and prayed to God that the revolver still worked.
Two bullets were shot out of the revolver, and two hinges on the door were blown off. Now, the door was openable. I mustered up my courage and slowly opened the door.
When I entered the house, the first thing I noticed was that a harmonica was being played. In this ghost town of a farm, a musician was delivering a musical piece for me.
“Hello?” I called out.
There was no response. The harmonica just grew louder.
“Hello?” I was starting to curse myself for entering this old house.
Again, no response, except for the harmonica growing louder.
I took out my revolver and slowly started to go around the house. With each step I took, the harmonica grew louder and louder. The tone of the instrument was already haunting, almost beautiful in a way, but it still scared me. I had no idea who the source of the music was.
The harmonica was becoming too loud. I felt that my eardrums were about to burst. I tried to contain myself and tried to stealthily stalk the house, but the harmonica just increased its volume. Louder, and louder, and louder. I could not even hear myself think, only that cursed harmonica…
Soon, I started to scream out, hoping I could drown out the sounds of the harmonica. I stomped around the house, probably going around in circles. Finally, I believe it was the kitchen, I just fell to my knees and covered my ears. I kept saying:
“Make it go away, make it go away, make it go away…”
I whimpered, pleaded, until all of a sudden… the harmonica went to its original volume. I could hear it in the room. I looked around, confused, and then I saw the source.
The man in the top hat had his back to me, beautifully playing the harmonica.
“Do you like it? I knew a man who lost his brother to this tune.”
“...Huh… how did you get here?”
“That’s not important, Mr. Bull. What is important is that I am here, and that I’m here to help you.”
“Why… why… so loud…”
“I apologize, Mr. Bull. Sometimes my love for music gets the better of me.”
“Ugh… just… made me sick…”
“Sit down for a bit, Mr. Bull.”
I sat on the floor, rubbing my head.
“You have a nice gun there, Mr. Bull. Rather old. I can’t quite put my finger on what type it is. Remington? Colt? No, it’s neither of those…”
I stayed silent, trying to gather my bearings.
“Well, Mr. Bull, I have two things to tell you, and then I must be off. An accountant like myself is always kept busy, you see.”
“Thing number one: The item you seek is upstairs. In the deceased’s bedroom.”
“...And number two?”
“Number two, Mr. Bull, is that you’ll need this to stay sane. But it only works for… sixty seconds. You’ll know when to use it.”
The man in the top hat gave me a watch of some sort.
“It plays a nice tune, you see. I have one of my own.”
The man in the top hat flicked out his pocket watch. It started to play.
“You never did tell me your name, Mister…”
“I told you, Mr. Bull, I’m not important anymore.”
“...That’s what the old woman told me.”
“Old woman? But there’s been nobody on the trail for miles… unless you mean the old woman that used to own the ranch.”
The watch’s music got louder.
“The old ranch owner, but she’s been dead for years, Mr. Bull. I would say you’ve almost, ah… seen a ghost.”
“A ghost, Mr. Bull, a ghost.”
When he said “ghost”, the watch’s music got even louder. Just like the harmonica.
“How do you know her?”
“I know many things, Mr. Bull. For example, your mother taught you to be very patient. Most would’ve tried to kill me by now. But they never succeed.”
The watch’s music was ear-splittingly loud.
“...Okay, enough with the games, who are you?”
The man in the top hat laughed. “I don’t think you’d like to know who you’ve been dealing with, Mr. Bull. Or should I say Giuseppe?”
I started to crawl away from the man in the top hat.
The music was starting to decrease in volume.
He walked toward me.
“Now don’t be afraid, Mr. Bull, I’m just a friend of Jack’s…”
I took out my revolver. “S-s-s-stand back!”
The man in the top hat just continued to walk towards me.
The sound of the watch was dying down.
I clicked off the safety. “Damn you!”
He scoffed. “Yes, many have.”
The watch was almost finished its song.
I aimed at him.
“Goodbye, Mr. Bull.”
The music stopped.
I closed my eyes and shot.
The sound of the bullet escaping the revolver went through my ears. I felt nauseous.
When I opened my eyes, the man with the top hat had vanished. There wasn’t a corpse or anything. He was just gone. I slowly got up and looked at what I had shot. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was a picture of the man with the top hat. Just hanging in the house. Now with a bullet in its head.
I was terrified now. But the ghost would probably continue to stalk me if I did nothing. I remember the man’s advice, and looked in my pockets to see if the watch was still there. And sure enough, it was. Which meant that only one thing was left to do.
I escalated the stairs.
The only sound now was the creaking of the steps when I stepped on them. The house was very old, and with each step I made, I knew I was a step closer destiny. Slowly, I walked, revolver in one hand, pocket watch in other.
I look carefully at my surroundings. There were two bedrooms. One had the name “Jack” on it, and the other was bigger. I could see a big bed, enough for two people. This must’ve been his parents’ room.
I looked in the room, and saw there were two night tables on opposite ends of the bed. I searched through both of them, and in one, I saw what Jack was talking about: the rusty revolver.
I picked it up and weighed it in my hands. It looked just like the revolver I had. I put it away in my pocket and knew what I had to do.
Quickly, I ran through the house, down the stairs, and was almost at the front door when I heard spurs walking.
I looked around frantically, and I saw a man follow me from… well, it would’ve been impossible, but he was descending the stairs.
“You have something that belongs to me, friend.”
I knew who this was. This was Jack’s father.
“Friend, I’d advise you to give it back, or things’ll get bloody.”
The man drew another revolver, one that looked much newer and shinier than the old one I had.
“Come on, just give it up.”
I backed away, outside of the house, with my revolver pointed at the man.
“Don’t you dare shoot me, friend!”
I didn’t heed his warning.
A hole appeared in the man’s torso, but nothing leaked out. He looked at it, and stared at me menacingly.
“Now, you’re gonna have to die…”
I screamed and ran backwards, tail between my legs.
“You can’t get away from me!”
The man was sprinting after me. He was much faster than me, despite looking much older.
I panted and panted, then remembered what the man in the top hat had told me. It was the only shot I had, so I took it.
I opened up the pocket watch.
As soon as it started to play, the man literally froze. He stopped dead in his tracks.
I was taken aback, but then remembered that I only had sixty seconds. I looked at the watch.
I ran towards the hill, each second ticking in my mind.
Twenty ticks had passed by the time I reached the graves. I quickly searched what names were on the gravesites. One was a female’s, one didn’t have a birth date, which left one I didn’t take a good look at.
Thirty ticks had passed.
I dug up the dirt with my bare hands. It was a sloppy job, but I did it anyways.
Thirty-five ticks had passed.
The dirt was completely unearthed. Underneath was a coffin.
Forty ticks had passed.
I kicked open the coffin. A skeleton met me, but I didn’t care.
Forty-five ticks had passed.
I threw the rusty revolver into the coffin.
Fifty ticks had passed.
I closed the coffin and started to fill the empty space with dirt again.
Fifty-five ticks had passed.
“There are two kinds of men in this world, Mr. Bull.”
The man in the top hat.
“Those who dig, and those with loaded guns.”
Sixty ticks had passed.
“Goodbye, Mr. Bull.”
A gunshot echoed.
I slumped back, against the tombstone. I tried to get a good look at my killer, but to no avail.
My eyes closed. I lost consciousness.
When I woke up again, I looked behind me. There were four graves now. This time, I took a good look at the names.
Jack… he had died as well.
But there was no “Giuseppe del Toro”. And I no longer had the gun nor the pocket watch. I didn’t even have the map. I searched my mind for anything I could use, anything at all. And then, I remember. A bit of a ways past the farmhouse, there was a big city called “Blackwater”. Surely I could find some help there.
I looked for my horse, but it seemed she had left some time ago. So I did my journey on foot.
I was very tired, but when I felt my feet on cobblestone streets, I knew I must’ve been in this Blackwater. None of the people looked at me when I walked past, they all seemed too busy and preoccupied to care. So I just shambled to the closest building. It was a saloon, a hotel.
I was going to ask for a room but I just fell asleep on one of the saloon tables.
And it is here, in Blackwater, that I’ve stayed for all these years. I quite like it here, actually. It’s nice, and the townsfolk are nice. I guess you’re a stranger here, is that right?
Well, if you have just a little longer, I’d actually like to ask you a favor.
If you ever find yourself near the farmhouse, please go find my revolver. And return it to me. I live near the church of Blackwater actually, near the gravestones. It’s always nagged at me to get my revolver back, but I’m sure you know how I feel about the farmhouse.
Hey, you look kind of pale. Are you alright?
You almost look like you’ve seen a ghost.
Written by: Sater (Sater14523)
Special Thanks: My grandfather for introducing me to Westerns. What a beautiful genre.