Resolutions – Chapter 2

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Resolutions Chapter Two: In chapter 1 you may remember that a woman named Carly suffered from a very rare case of amnesia that started when she visited Joshua Tree National Park New Year’s Eve 1993.

On January 3rd, 2022 Carly suffered again from her state of amnesia but this time there was something slightly different happening, besides her usual course of unawareness that overwhelmed her she started to have more pronounced memories. They were vague and fleeting, but nonetheless she could start to identify certain aspects of that night when she first started to experience her memory loss.

On February 22nd, 2022 she decided to drive back into the Joshua Tree Park and see if there was anything there that could explain what happened to her, and why every year she would lose her short-term memory that occurred like clockwork on every New Year’s.

Unfortunately this time her faithful dog Lou Buck would not be with her. Although he made many trips into the park. Time was taking its toll and he finally passed away. Carly was heartbroken because her love for Lou Buck was immeasurable. She still was driving the same truck over the years. It needed repairs, but it drove well and it was a reliable way to get around, plus she was never afraid to take it off road, or get it scratched by brush and cactuses. It was high enough off the ground where it could clear most rocks that were on the unkempt dirt roads she would travel on.

Doing her best to drive back to the location where she thought this loss of memory thing occurred, Carly was following her instincts and interestingly enough she felt like she was being drawn to the spot. She had made a few trips into the park over the years after that incident but she mostly stayed on the paved roads and never really thought about that fateful night that changed everything for her. She drove off on a dirt road that she thought was the one she used. There was still plenty of daylight. Starting to walk into the desert, following her intuition she could see a solitary large cropping of boulders. Stopping for a moment to see if she could connect spiritually or any other way with that pile of rocks. Carly was surprised that for some unknown reason she immediately realized that’s exactly where she was that night. She remembered she laid back on the highest boulder looking at the stars with Lou Buck laying beside her.

The boulders were only 100 yards or so from where she was standing and thinking. She thought to herself, “I’m going over there, climb up to the top, lay there and see if I can somehow relive that experience.

Climbing up to the highest boulder, Carly looked around and really could not see anybody or anything even though the truck seemed to have disappeared into the background. She laid back on the granite boulder and started her thinking process. At first it was hard for her to not think about Lou Buck lying next to her, but in a short time she started to fall into a sleep-like trance. Something very unsettling hit her all at once and she abruptly sat up and looked down. There stood an old man who was shabbily dressed. The old man was very thin, looked worn out. His clothes were tattered and had large holes revealing his very weathered skin. Carly could make out some scars.

Looking up at Carly on top of the boulders, the shabbily dressed old man lifted his hat and yelled up to her, “what the hell are you doing out here young lady?” Carly was becoming quite nervous. She didn’t feel threatened by this man, he looked too frail to be menacing in fact she thought if push came to shove she could probably knock him down and head back to her truck. But that was not going to take place.

Unbeknownst to Carly this old desert rat of a figure was no other than Johnny Lang, a prospector who died in 1925. As the story goes: on a winter morning in 1925 Johnny Lang rolled up his canvas sleeping bag and packed what remained of his supplies, a half slice of bacon and a small sack of flour. He was trying to make it to the road where the freight wagon would come by so he could make it to town where he could replenish his supplies. He had been living off the burros that he used when he established his mining claim. And when I say living off of his burros he literally slaughtered them one by one and ate them.

There is quite a colorful story when it comes to the life of Johnny Lang and you may find it very interesting. Just Google Joshua Tree National Park and the grave of Johnny Lang.

Johnny, with his dusty dilapidated hat in one hand, signaled Carly, beckoned her to come on down to where he was standing. Carly reluctantly decided she would do so. Standing a few feet apart Carly had a much better look. And she thought to herself, “is this guy really alive, he looks like he’s dead.” Johnny had no color in his complexion, his eyes were nearly a solid white. His jawline looked hollow as he spoke. His body and his clothes showed signs of being in dirt. His fingers and his fingernails were almost a magenta color.

Carly spoke first, “you don’t look well at all!” Johnny only replied by saying, “you know me, I saw you up on that rock many years ago, and you and I had a long conversation.” Carly, doing her best to be polite, and not show any signs of being afraid replied, “I’m starting to remember, I thought it was a dream but I lost all memory of what took place.” Johnny said, “you had a dog with you named Lou Buck that night he was a very good dog, why isn’t he with you now?” Carly said, “he died a few years ago and I miss him very much.”

Johnny in a very genuine fashion said he was sorry to hear that. He proceeded to tell Carly about himself and the talk they had that night, and his story went something like this.

“I have been dead for a long time. There is a grave marker for me out that direction. There have been a lot of people that come by to take a look at it. Some of those people tried to dig me up thinking that I might have some gold hidden on my person. My death was determined to be of natural causes. But that’s not the truth. If someone paid attention to what was being said about how I died they would have followed the clues but nobody really wanted the truth to get out. First off, after I had died, the rancher Bill Keys and two of his companions found my mummified body. That was about three months after I died. No one could explain why I wasn’t eaten by coyotes or birds. My body was just laying there. They had some fellow tell everyone that I died of natural causes and quickly buried me.”

Carly who was a bit shaken to hear this story, from which she now understood the guy telling it had died in 1925. She asked Johnny, “how and why did you reach out to me that night? And why are you talking to me now? I don’t think there’s much that I can do, especially because I have periods of amnesia and I can’t remember what happened that night. I can’t really remember if I had ever seen you before.” Johnny proceeded to tell her, “I often wander the desert at night. When I saw you, I waved you down off that rock, and we talked and I told you my story that was many years ago. You are the only one that I could ever speak to, everyone else could not see me or hear me, but you did. You listened to my story and said that you would tell people what happened. I even told you who killed me and how they did it.” Carly, shocked by what she was hearing said, “I don’t remember any of that. It seems like ever since that night, I fall into amnesia every New Year’s eve.”

Johnny, who spoke with the kind of tone and voice you would expect from a lonely gold prospector/miner from the early 1900s proceeded to tell Carly what he thought actually happened and said, “even though you were understanding and sympathetic you were also very scared. And I could easily understand why you never came back here again and quite frankly I was surprised when you did show up but I knew somehow you would.”

Carly said, “I was hoping to discover what happened to me that night. I used to think that I was somehow abducted by aliens from outer space, but I knew that could not have been true. Plus Lou Buck never seemed to show any signs of being uncomfortable that night. Over the years little bits and pieces of remembrances would pop into my head but nothing could make sense. That’s why I decided to come back here to see if I could understand what happened. I don’t know why you showed up in my life. There really isn’t anything I can do for you. I’m at least hoping that the amnesia thing I’ve been experiencing every year would go away.”

Johnny just standing there not even moving his hands or arms said to Carly, “I don’t know really, what all that means. All I knew was you were the only person that could see me and hear what I had to say. I must’ve tried talking to people hundreds of times and nothing ever happened. You were the only person that I could talk to. We actually talked for a couple hours, then I faded away only to wander the desert day and night. You said that you understood what happened to me and that you would tell others.” Carly listening to his heartfelt words replied, “I would’ve been happy to tell your story but I never could remember it, I never really knew what happened to me that night. What do you want me to remember now so I can share your story.”

Moving closer to Carly to make sure she could still hear what he had to say, he proceeded to tell her, “there were some outlaws and cattle rustlers that lived in the area they knew that I was pulling gold out of my mine. They wanted that gold. They threatened me many times. They even tied me up once and searched my cabin, went through all my belongings and searched all around. They found nothing, I hid it too well. It is still all very well hidden. I check on it from time to time and there are piles of the stuff still untouched. One day when I was trying to catch a freight wagon that was going into town they found me. This time they said if you don’t tell us where the gold is we’re going to kill you. I didn’t, and they did. They held me down and filled my mouth and nose with dirt I couldn’t breathe and I suffocated to death. There they left me in the desert probably thinking that the coyotes and birds would work over my carcass and all that would be left were my bones.”

Feeling uncomfortable but also sorrowful Carly asked Johnny, “what can I do for you now?” Johnny told her that he will draw a map in the dirt and show her where all the gold was hidden. His only requirement was that she tell the newspapers the story of what really happened to him. He also told her to tell the park rangers to get the story right so people know the truth. Then Johnny told her emphatically, “don’t tell anyone about all the gold you have, just take it out in small amounts and then sell it. Do it very carefully and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Carly realized that Johnny’s presence was starting to fade. It became harder and harder for her to understand what he was saying and he just seemed to evaporate. She looked down on the ground and sure enough there was a map drawn into the dirt indicating where all the hidden gold was. Did she follow Johnny’s instructions? The only way we will ever know is if the truth about Johnny Lang’s death becomes known. You can search the Internet or you can talk to one of the park rangers at the Joshua Tree National Monument and ask them if Johnny was murdered or not, then you will know if Carly took the gold.

“Lusting for gold never goes out of style at any age.”


Rod Jones Artist