My Favorite Childhood Ghost Story

This was my go-to ghost story to tell whenever I would sit around the campfire in Boy Scouts or when I wanted to scare the crap out of my little brother and his friends.



In honor of Halloween, I am telling the story of “Bloody Fingers” for the first time in 30 years in the text below and listen to me tell this chilling tale in audio form (available on the Social Musings by Austin YouTube Channel below.



The year was 1985 when I first heard this horror story, and my mom was dating a man (Jim) who had played football at Odessa Permian. Yes, that Odessa Permian juggernaut that would win state championships year after year and which was the true inspiration for the book and TV series “Friday Night Lights.”


Jim played defensive lineman for the Permian Panthers and wore his state championship ring from the 1972 state championship year proudly. It was the largest piece of jewelry I had ever seen that time.


Jim was the one who told me this tale, as it happened in his hometown.



The Story of “Bloody Fingers”

If you know West Texas, you know that life is all about oil and high school football. It also used to be about caliche mining.



Caliche is a sedimentary rock and is used as a binder for gravel roads and in cement production, and caliche quarries are prevalent in the Midland/Odessa area.


Many of the football players on Jim’s team had summer jobs in these caliche “pits” as they are called, earning extra money just in case their college and professional football careers didn’t work out.

One of these players was Jimbo, the high school’s star running back.


Jimbo was loved by everyone – his teammates, the cheerleaders, heck, the entire community was counting on Jimbo to help deliver Permian another state title.



One day on the job site in the summer of 1973, the site foreman, Buck, decided that a project was falling behind and to continue blast mining the caliche rock with dynamite after the sun went down. Jimbo’s best friend on the team, Johnny, worked with Jimbo in pairs that evening laying the dynamite, which was usually done in the daylight.


Johnny had been out late drinking the night before with his girlfriend, Betty Sue, down at the local makeout spot outside of town. He certainly had not planned on working a double shift the next day at the mine.


As Jimbo and Johnny laid their final dynamite charges for the evening, Johnny slipped on the loose caliche rock and broke his leg. The fuse was burning on the lit dynamite as Jimbo rushed towards Jimmy and threw him to safety.


BOOM!



The dynamite stick blew up and when the dust settled, Johnny was badly hurt. As the emergency teams arrived, they tended to Johnny. They searched for Jimbo, but there were no remains, except for the bloody parts of two fingers, which appeared to be Jimbo’s. It was as if he had been blown into smithereens.


The community was shocked and saddened. A big funeral procession lined the streets of downtown Odessa and the football coach gave the obituary.


That fall, Permian made it to the regional finals but fell short in their bid of repeating as Texas state high school football champions.


A few years went by. The mine was still operational, and the football team was a perennial contender but did not win the championship. The memory of Jimbo slowly faded away.


By 1978, Buck, the mining site foreman made enough money to buy the mine from its former owners. This money was made partially through legal means and partially through shady, illegal deals, which no one knew about.


One night late after the employees had left for the evening, Buck took a drive around his newly-owned property. There was a cross at the site where the explosion had occurred to commemorate the suspected death of Jimbo and the maiming of Johnny.


Buck pulled up in his pickup truck to the cross when his truck suddenly shuddered and the engine died. Buck stepped out of the truck, his headlights still on, shining on the memorial cross where the accident had happened five years earlier. A cold wind blew even though it was the summer time.


Buck thought he heard a voice in the West Texas wind which blew across the mine.


“Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


Buck thought, “What the fuck?”


The voice grew louder: “Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


The truck lights went out and all was dark and silent.


The next morning, Buck’s workers found his body hunched over next to the cross. The police found no clues, and the coroner ruled it a heart-attack.


A few weeks later, the fall football season began. After a huge home victory, the students would head out to the local makeout spot, the same one where Johnny had taken Betty Sue the night before the dynamite accident.


The school’s biggest bully and jock at the time was Billy Bob. Billy Bob was drunk after the game, and he was celebrating his two touchdown catches. He grabbed one of the freshman girls and threw her into the backseat of his Ford Bronco.


As he took off her shirt against her wishes, he heard a voice coming from the backseat of the Bronco.


“Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


“Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


The freshman girl screamed as a huge arm and hand, missing two fingers at the stubs, grabbed Billy Bob. She ran out of the Bronco, screaming bloody murder.


When the cops arrived, there was no sign of Billy Bob except for blood strewn throughout the inside of the Bronco. They questioned the girl, who was clearly distressed. Their inquiry was fruitless; in the end, no charges were filed.


By this time, and due to the unbelievable sworn testimony of the freshman girl, the town of Odessa became obsessed with a myth. The myth was that Jimbo had somehow survived the unfortunate dynamite accident and was living somewhere out in the West Texas desert, missing fingers and all. Like the Grim Reaper, Jimbo (or his ghost) was wreaking havoc on any and all unsavory characters in Odessa.



Parents told their kids to behave or else Jimbo would come get them. This story produced the desired effect usually.


Johnny, after losing a leg in the accident, became an alcoholic and was frequently seen in a dive bar on the edges of town.


One night Johnny got drunk and drove his truck out into the desert to fire off his shotgun into the night air, one of his favorite pastimes.


Johnny has always felt guilty about what happened. He knew that if he had gone home to bed early instead of drinking at the makeout spot with Betty Sue. The whiskey was coming on in waves. In and out.


The full moon hung high in the West Texas sky as shotgun blasts from Johnny’s gun rang out.

A voice from the east whistled: “Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


Johnny could see a form, with the silhouette of Jimbo on the horizon.


“Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


Johnny peed his pants. The figure was almost upon him.


“Bloody Fingers…BLOOOOOODDDDYYYY FINGERS”


The tumbleweeds were stained with blood in the morning when the Sheriff pulled into the crime scene.


No one ever heard of Jimbo again. But sometimes if you listen really hard, on a full moon, you can hear:


Bloody Fingers.


THE END.

COPYRIGHT 2021 Social Musings LLC

Written, performed and produced by Austin Rosenthal


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