Thanks so much for including me in your Halloween Spooktacular! I wrote this story after dreaming about it while trying to sneak in a nap one afternoon. The kids jumped on the bed and woke me, which was probably scarier to me than this ghost story!
The Cowgirl at Four Mile Roadhouse
Garner Ford flipped the switch that turned off the outside lights of the Four Mile Roadhouse. His truck was the only vehicle left in the lot. He walked past the last patron sitting in a booth nursing his third shot of whiskey.
"We're closing, old timer." He nodded toward the lot. "Did you walk here?"
The cowboy used one gnarled finger to push up the brim of his dusty Stetson. "Took a cab." The man looked nearly ninety, but his voice was strong.
Garner nodded. "Stayin' at the motel in town?"
The man glanced at the opening where the bar ended at the kitchen door. Did he see her? His ghost?
Grabbing a few glasses off a nearby table, Garner walked toward the bar. "I go past there on my way home. Wait a spell and I'll give you a ride."
The cowboy finished his whiskey. "I'd be much obliged."
Something about his voice triggered a memory. "How about one more of those…" Garner gestured to the man's glass. "For the road?"
"As long as you join me, Mr. Ford."
Garner tipped his head, searching his memory. Reaching behind the bar, he pulled out a good bottle of whiskey and a shot glass. "Do I know you?" He sat across from the cowboy and filled their glasses.
"Will Brody. Sold you the bar four years ago." The man's rheumy blue eyes glistened.
He'd only met the man for a half hour at the closing, but he looked a good bit older, now. "Thought I recognized your voice." He took a swallow of the liquor. "Last I heard, you were up in Tulsa."
"Yep. Came back for a visit." He looked at the spot near the kitchen door again.
"Are you looking for Daisy?"
Will's eyes shifted to lock with Garner's. "You've seen Daisy?" He sounded twenty years younger.
Garner nodded. "Every night. After the place closes down and I'm about to lock the front door." He looked toward the end of the bar. "She walks from the kitchen out from behind the bar then disappears."
The cowboy reached a shaking hand toward his glass. "I didn't think anyone else could see her." He drank.
Garner refilled his glass. "Was she haunting the place when you owned it?"
"Nope. She didn't start out a ghost." Will fixed his gaze on the spot and seemed to slip into a trance. "She showed up here in July of 1958. Runnin' from a bad marriage, scared and skinny. I hired her right away 'cause of her beauty, but fell for her spirit." He shifted his gaze to Garner. "No pun intended."
Garner smiled but stayed silent, riveted, wanting to hear the whole story.
"After a few months, we got hitched. Not legally, of course. She was still married to the bastard who'd made her life hell. But we told folks we'd gone to the county and made it legal so she could move in with me." His sigh conveyed a longing and a loneliness, the depth of which Garner could only guess at.
The cowboy tipped his head. "You married?"
Garner nodded. "Five years. Two kids."
"Good. Daisy and I never had any young 'uns. Didn't get the chance." His gaze strayed back to the end of the bar. "One night, not long after she'd moved in with me, we were closin' the bar. As I walked toward the front door, it swung open." His breath came choppy.
The pain on the old man's expression nearly choked Garner.
"He'd found her." Taking a drink of whiskey, he sat forward. "Shot me in the knees with a blast of buckshot. I went down like a sack of rocks. Daisy…" He stared at the spot. "She came out of the kitchen and walked past the end of the bar. Her husband shouted something vile—I don't even remember what—and drew a bead on her."
The hairs on the back of Garner's neck stood up. Daisy had always been his closing companion, never making trouble, sometimes drawing a daisy on a napkin or on the chalkboard, but mostly keeping to herself. He could almost feel her fear. Feel Will's terror.
"I tried to lunge for him, but both legs were shattered. My Daisy…she took a shot to the chest." He gasped in a breath and gripped the whiskey glass so tight in his wrinkled hand, Garner was surprised it didn't break. "Her husband ran. I crawled to her, pulled her into my arms, and…" He shook his head. "Aw, hell, I cried like a baby. I begged her not to die. I offered my life for hers, cursed God, bargained with the devil."
Will downed his whiskey. "She put a finger to my lips. 'I'll wait here for you,' she said and slipped away."
Garner swallowed a lump of sadness. "They ever catch the husband?"
The cowboy's eyes narrowed. "My brothers went after him." He slid a look at Garner. "No one'll ever find that body."
He shivered, imagining the justice dealt to that poor soul. "Your knees? You must have recovered."
He nodded. "Took a year, but I got back to walking again. I married a few years later. Had three boys. They're adults now, kids of their own. But, the wife and I divorced not too long after they were born." He played with his empty glass. "She said she couldn't compete with a ghost." His eyes strayed to the end of the bar. "Literally."
"So, who are you in town visiting?"
He released a long breath. "I wanted to come down to the bar again. See Daisy one more time. The boys, they got me all tucked into a nursing home in Tulsa."
"Tulsa?" His meaning started to clear in his head. "You took a taxi from Tulsa?"
He grinned. "Yep."
"That's four hundred miles."
"Surprised the driver, too. I put in on the new credit card I got through the mail. Figure the boys'll pay it off out of my life insurance." His face grew serious. "I had to be here when…to see Daisy again."
The story shook him. Garner needed to be wrapped around his woman and holding on tight. The sooner he got Daisy's nightly stroll under way, the sooner old Will would be ready to leave. "Okay." Garner stood and picked up the bottle and glasses. "I'd best get you over to the hotel, and get myself home. Let me lock up and we'll head out the side door."
He set everything on the bar and walked toward the front door.
The old cowboy coughed a couple times.
Garner flipped the locks and walked back along the bar. He stopped, glanced over at Will, feeling Daisy's presence, knowing she'd be making her nightly trip from the kitchen at any second.
Will sat quietly, leaning back in the booth.
A glow came from the darkened kitchen. She was on the move. The shimmer took the hazy form of a petite, curvy woman, a cowboy hat on her head, a pink shirt, denim skirt, and cowgirl boots. Her gaze caught Garner's and a wicked chill raced down his spine, spreading out to raise every hair on his body to attention.
She glanced toward the cowboy. Something was different tonight. Could a ghost recognize the living?
He looked Will's way.
Daisy held out her hand toward the cowboy.
Garner held his breath. She'd never done that before.
The smoky shape of a cowboy formed near Will.
Feeling dizzy, Garner sucked in air and held onto the bar.
The specter moved toward Daisy, his hand out to her, young and unwrinkled. The face looked sixty years younger than Will, but when his gaze met Garner's, the bar owner recognized those blue irises.
The hazy cowboy winked.
Garner's heart stopped for a moment.
The two figures, hands joined, walked back through the kitchen and out the unopened side door.
"Holy. Hell." His body felt numb, his brain wouldn't process this. Was the old cowboy real? He looked at the booth. The old man's mortal remains sat slumped onto the table. Garner didn't bother checking for a pulse. He fumbled for his cell phone and dialed 911.
Pulling the cork out of the whiskey bottle, he held it up in a shaking hand.. "Daisy and Will, here's to a new beginning."
I'm giving away a copy of one of my books to a lucky commenter. What was the spookiest thing you've ever seen?
Thanks for having me here today.
Randi "Rode Hard and Put Up Satisfied"
Turn Up the Heat, Chase and Seduction, and Her Cowboy Stud are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon
Cowboy Lust is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon
Please leave a comment for your chance to win an e-copy of one of Randi's books: Chase and Seduction, Her Cowboy Stud, Turn Up the Heat, or Cowboy Bad Boys. Answer Randi's question in the comments "What's the spookiest thing you've ever seen?"