Every so often, I feel a story or a rousing recount should get a second visit and be shared again. I wrote this one a few years ago because it made it’s way back to me in a dream. I watched one of the Jurassic movies earlier in the week. I had a squirmy nightmare for a few nights in a row, which usually results in me making a hot cup of Ovaltine in the microwave and reading for an hour or so to quieten my brain a bit. The problem was, it wasn’t a nightmare; it was a true account from my childhood. I swear on a stack of good books, not the Bible, of course, but maybe a few by Hemingway and Steinbeck. My two long-deceased and loveable uncles were the best storytellers, beer drinkers, and liars I have known. I never knew where the realism ended, and the bullcrap started, but they both swore, in between gulps of cold Pearl beer, sitting there on top of their Coleman coolers out on my grandparent’s front porch, that this one was as real as a bad case of chickenpox.
At seven years old, I learned of my first, but far from the last Texas legend. One of the best storytellers and liars I ever knew, my uncle Bill told my cousins and me about Santa Anna’s “Mountain Boomers.”
Supposedly, man-size lizards that ran on two legs came down from the Santa Anna mountain searching for food. Anything would do, but they were partial to goats, chickens, and tiny humans. If you were caught outside in the wee morning hours, it was a sure bet a Mountain Boomer would get you. Us kids were scared shitless of even going out after dark.
With no air conditioning in the farmhouse, we were forced to sleep with the windows open and would lay in our beds shaking all night, waiting for the monsters to break through the window screen and carry us away. Our Granny was no help; her standard goodnight to us was ” sleep tight and don’t let the Mountain Boomers bite.”
Summer evenings on the farm were made for sitting on my grandparent’s covered porch, watching lightning bugs dance, listening to the crickets chirp, and catching the far away howels of an occasional Coyote pack running the pastures.
The sky was black as pitch, the Milky Way as white as talcum powder, and heat lighting in the West added to the drama of the evening. We kids were ripe for a big one, and my uncles never disappointed. First, homemade ice cream was eaten, then the cooler of Pearl Beer came out, and the stories commenced.
Already that June, my cousin Jerry and me had been to see the hero pig and the three-legged chickens, so we needed a new adventure. But, unfortunately, the hobos had left the railroad bridge down the road, and our summer was losing air like a punctured tire.
“Did you kids see that over there in the trees? I think that might have been one of them Mountain Boomers,” says uncle Bill, in between swigs of Pearl. Then, of course, we strained our eyes to see what he said he saw, but nothing. Then a few moments later, ” there it goes again, I tell you kids, that was one of them sumbitches running on two legs carrying a goat.”
He had us hooked and scared. Then he starts in on the story.
Uncle Bill took a swig of Pearl and says, ” Right down this road here, about twenty-years ago, a families car broke down. The daddy, a man I knew well, walked into town to find some help. He left his wife and small son in the car. It was late at night, so he figured they would sleep until he returned. The little boy, got out of the car to pee along side the road. His Momma heard him scream and came out of the car in a hurry, there was a 7 foot Mountain Boomer standing there with the little kid in it’s mouth. The poor boy was almost chewed in half already. His guts were hanging out and dragging on the ground. The big lizard took off running with the Momma chasing it. Another of them Boomers was hiding in the scrub brush and got her too. A few days later, the sheriff found their bloody remains up on the mountain. They knew a Mountain Boomer had got em because they found their tracks. That’s why we never go outside after midnight around here.” Jerry and I were almost pissing our pants.
When we stayed at the farm, I don’t believe either of us ever slept well again after that night. But, even after we were adults, my Uncle Bill swore the legend and the story was true. I still dream of them.
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