Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Floating Ghosts of Taos, New Mexico

Thirty years ago, in my early years in New Mexico, I invited a good friend, Diana, to join me in Taos. We stayed an an historic inn, where the rooms boasted functioning Kiva fireplaces that burned fragrant piñon wood. It was the month of October, which we should have known was the month of spirits and haunts. But...we were young and sophisticated and smart. Right.

We started off as good tourists, with lunch at Michael's Kitchen, already a must in Taos. Then we walked the town square and drove up to the ski basin. The air was brisk, and the mountains full of autumn mists and the colors of dying leaves. At a small jewelry shop on the plaza, Diana contemplated a pair of turquoise earrings, but ended up buying an old musty book about Kit Carson. As we left the shop, Diana remarked that the hair on her hands stood up. I laughed at her.

"Next, you'll be telling me you feel a sudden chill."

She looked at me with wide eyes, but said nothing.

We bought Courvoisier, our favorite brandy at the time, and settled on a restaurant for dinner that was only a few blocks from our landmark hotel. The green chili enchiladas and sopaipillas (a fried, puffy pastry) were exceptional, and we returned to our room sleepy and happy. The Kit Carson book was on the night stand. We started a fire, and poured Courvoisier into the hotel glasses. Silence, broken by the cracking of piñon wood,  surrounded us. I think I dozed off, because I remember being startled by a rush of wind and the sound of whispering. My rational mind suggested wind and dead leaves, but I felt scared. The room was dim except for the firelight and strange glowing clouds above the bed.The clouds moved about t the room and the whispering grew louder and became a chant. Diana reached over and touched my arm. I jumped. She shoot her head and me and then looked in the direction of the bed. The clouds of glowing gas were in a circle now, and the chants grew louder.  A breeze stirred again, seeming to blow near the nightstand and the Kit Carson book blew open to a page near the end. I was paralyzed, as this was the spookiest encounter with ghosts I ever experienced. Diana, on the other hand, was energized by fear.

She jumped up and shouted, "Go, go, go." The clouds of gas and chanting ceased. I found myself seated in with my back to the bed, certain I had dreamed the whole affair.

"Did you see all that?" I asked Diana.

"I saw something," she replied.

She walked over to the nightstand and looked down at the open book. The page described the burning of Navajo villages and the killing of the Navajo men and the animals families needed to survive.

"Why did the book open to that page?" I asked Diana. "Were you reading it."

She backed away from the book and the night stand. In spite of my skepticism and my sense of fear, I know I heard a dim chanting sound start in the back of my head.

"Of course I turned it to that page," Diana said. "I was looking for the gory parts."

"Want to grab a late night snack?" I asked, anxious to get out of the room and away from that chanting sound in my head.

She grabbed her jacket. We went down to the lobby and ordered Dos Equis. Nothing further happened. We passed out in our room, the fire went out, and the next morning, a bright sunny affair with leaves dancing along the street, we breakfasted at Michael's and headed home.

To this day, Diana swears that she saw nothing that night and was simply thumbing threw our souvenir book -- a book which she can no longer locate, for some reason.

I'm sure it was all a dream, but you never know for sure in Mysterious New Mexico...