ENCOUNTER IN CAMELOT
by Lou Antonelli
"Sure, you can sit down. I guess we're both drinking
alone. Never seen you here before. Just passing through,
huh? What? Oh, I have to nurse my beer along. Can't
afford too many.
"What? Bless your heart! That's mighty kind of you.
Listen, I'm mighty appreciative. Tell you what, to thank
you, I'm gonna tell you a story.
"It's a good one. Actually, now that I think of it, I
don't reckon I've ever told anyone. But I'm getting old.
I guess I can spill the frijoles, if you know
what I mean. It happened to me 20 years ago, in Camelot.
"It was a little town between Grand Prairie and Cedar
Hill, south of Dallas. I say was because it's
covered up by a lake now. I'll tell you about the night
I was out collecting scrap and I kilt a witch goddess in
the woods. Shot her dead.
Sorry, I didn't say. George Edward Heyward. I've been
called "Heavy" Heyward since I was little 'cuz I was so
large. Guess quitting school in the 5th grade was a
mistake, but nobody cared back then, and I helped my paw
collect metal we needed to fight the Japs. I never took
to book learning, anyhows. I helped my paw collect scrap
metal for 40 years, until he died, and then I took over
the scrap yard myself.
The year after my paw died, the government said they
would build a lake between Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie,
and cover up Camelot with a lake.
Seems with all the people moving into Dallas, the
feds wanted to build another reservoir. Camelot was the
last empty place around.
You know how Camelot got its name, don't you? It has
nothing to do with Limeys running around in tin pants.
It goes back to right after the Civil War, when the
Army Quartermaster General brought some camels over from
Turkey. They figgered they could be used on our desert.
The camels were corralled in pens behind a dipping
station that was the last stop on the Chisholm Trail
south of Fort Worth.
The plans to use the camels didn't work, though.
Something didn't agree with them, I reckon. When the
railroad came through, the dipping station was
abandoned, and the buildings were torn down. But they
didn't bother to tear up the old livestock pens.
For years, people would go past on the way between
Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie, and they'd say, "there's
the old camel lot". The name stuck.
Well, Camelot weren’t nothing but a few farms and
houses, and the Army Corps of Engineers bought everyone
out when they built the lake. They dug and bulldozed the
hollows for ten years. They closed the dam in the spring
of 1985, and the lake began to fill up.
Now, when they tore down the buildings and barns,
they hauled off a lot, but there was still a lot of
scrap lying around the old farms, if you knew where to
I guess they reckoned there was no use cleaning it
all up--it was going to be under 100 feet of water.
During the months the lake was rising, I'd sneak around
and haul away all the scrap I could find.
Now one night there was a bright, full moon, so I
thought I could make a good haul, despite it being
nighttime. I tossed my bolt cutters, sledge hammer and
crowbar into the back of the truck, and skedaddled.
Officer Buddy from Cedar Hill was on the service road
when I got there. He looked like he was heading back to
town. The police knew I had been cleaning up around the
lake, and they didn't mind me going on the land none. I
asked him what was up.
"We had reports of strange lights and noise down in
the hollow," he said. "If I were you, I wouldn’t go
I told him I'd keep an eye out. He told me he thought
it was a bad idea, but I didn’t heed him none.
"Well, then, you be careful," he said with a strange
smile. He left in his patrol car.
Now, when you're out alone in the woods like I was,
you'd be a fool not to carry some shooting irons. I had
a pair of pistols in the glove box, but I also had a
surplus M-16, rigged to run full-automatic, under the
I pulled into a clearing where I knew there was some
old farm equipment lying around. After I got out, I saw
a reddish glow through the trees. I thought there was a
fire, so I went to investigate, after grabbing my
Well, I was right about the fire, in a way. I snuck
through the trees and after a few hundred yards, I saw
there was a fire. And witches were dancing in a
circle around it.
They were in a piece of land that had been cleared,
but on three sides the timber had been left standing to
hide the fish once the lake was full. The fourth side
faced the open water.
My curiosity got the better of me, and I snuck
closer. It were the first time I saw witches for real.
Now, of course you know there's witches in Texas.
Some folks who settled here brought the ancient ways
from the old country. Sure, they go to Baptist or
Methodist meetings--but at night, when the moon is full,
they cover up, head out, and ride with The Hombre. I
never gave it any real thought. Like my paw said, 'Never
truck with the people of the old ways, unless'n you join
them. Otherwise, keep your distance.'
Which I should have done that night. But like I said
before, curiosity got the better of me.
These women weren't wearing no black hats or black
robes or anything like that. They were all buck naked.
And don't believe that crap that witches are all old
women. Most looked to be younger than me.
I could hear they were chanting. I couldn't make out
what they were saying. I snuck a little closer and
realized they weren't speaking English. It was the old
They danced real slow and chanted real low. The only
other person there was a blond-headed boy tending the
fire. After a while, the witches turned and faced the
lake, and they got louder.
Then a damn snake--I guess they were being driven out
of the hollow by the rising water--slid right across my
calf as I kneeled there. I jumped up and cussed without
All the witches turned in my direction. The boy
dropped his firewood.
"Shee-yit," I thought. "I'm headin' for the stew pot
I turned to run, and smacked right into Officer
"Heavy, you really need to mind your own business,"
he said as he grabbed me by my collar and dragged me to
Two witches grabbed me on each arm, and the boss
woman began to mutter at me in that old language. She
took a big-ass silver dagger out from between her tits
Just as she raised the dagger, there was a hissing
sound. Out on the lake, there was water all bubbling and
Officer Buddy and the other witches let loose of me
and fell to their knees.
Now, I had the M-16 slung over my shoulder underneath
the heavy green pea jacket I was wearing. I'm sure
Officer Buddy felt it, but he grabbed me so fast and so
strong I never had a chance to go for it.
As the witches were moaning and bowing, nobody was
paying attention to me, so I took off the jacket and
swung the assault rifle around.
The head witch was bowing and scraping, and as she
did--I swear this is what I saw--a lady in long white
robes rose out of the water and came at us like a sub
rising in the ocean. They had summoned her.
The Lady of the Lake came straight for shore. My bad
luck was that she was facing me--everybody else was
facing her--and she saw I had the machine gun.
Her eyes glowed bright red as she stared at me and
she began to raise a hand
She looked to come right up to us. I panicked, and I
unloaded. I cut right through the head witch and then
the rounds plowed into the Lady.
She fell back and into the water with a loud shriek.
There was a big explosion of steam, and in a second a
cloud rushed over all of us.
I fell to the ground, coughing and choking. I don't
think I passed out, but I sure couldn't see for a while.
When the cloud lifted, I saw everyone was gone,
except for the boy who had been tending the fire. I
guess the Lady, demon, witch, whatever she was, went to
Hell and took her own.
The boy's eyes were as wide as plates and he didn't
say a thing. When we saw the red and blue lights of the
lake patrol begin across the lake towards us, I gestured
for him to follow me, and he did.
We ran back to my truck as the biggest damn
thunderstorm you ever saw broke out. We barely made it
back to the main road before everything turned to mud.
The storm went on until noon the next day, and the
lake filled up completely. The clearing where we were
has been under water ever since.
The next day I got to wondering how my rounds could
take down a super-nacheral creature. But then I
remembered something. A week or two before, I hauled off
some scrap from the *Cedar Hill Chronicle* newspaper. It
was a big stack of those aluminum plates they used on
the printing press.
The editor there--I never could remember his name, it
was a funny name, we all called him Mr. Lou--asked me if
I would also take away and dump a bottle of chemicals.
I had set the old glass bottle in the cab of my
truck, and it tipped over and spilled all over my box of
ammo. I couldn't see it had done any harm, except that
after I dried off the rounds they were all stained
I remembered that, and it got me to thinking. I went
back to the *Chronicle* and asked Mr. Lou what had been
in the bottle.
He said it was a chemical they used to develop
pictures. Silver night-right, I think he called it. It
definitely had silver in it, he said.
I figgered it out. Those rounds had been stained with
the liquid silver. That's why they tarnished, and that's
why they done in the Lady of the Lake.
Well, that's the story. Officer Buddy was never seen
again. I have no idea who the women were. No one's ever
bothered me about that night--though I swear over the
years, when I'm in the supermarket, I'll get some
strange looks on the sly from some fancy women. Maybe
they're scared of me. I shot up one of their goddesses,
I'm too old to haul scrap any more. I still make a
little money, though--enough to keep me in bacon and
tobacco--with my pickup truck, pulling stumps for home
builders. The young fellow I rescued that night at the
lake--he's stayed with me all these years, and now he's
In fact, that's him honking for me right now. Thanks
for the beers, mister. That's right kind of you. We've
got to go pull out a few stumps.
My helper--Artie--he's real good at that. He can pull
anything out of the ground.