Valley of Light: A Loop Serial Story
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
July 6, 2019
Start at the beginning. For Part 1 click HERE
Part 5, by Linda Crisalli
Ralph Rigatta, Old Time Miner
I am no young pup, I teethed on mining in my youth in the Mojave Desert. Went with my pops before I was five. Helped lug out lots of stone.
But it’s been gold I’ve wanted. And headlines screaming, “Ralph Rigatta strikes big time!” I did some panning up north. But these dang mountains here kept drawing me back. I can’t stop the campfire stories always running crazy like in my head, stories from those older miners feeding my imagination nightly for years. The pull was mighty strong.
A story some hiker told me as a teen is what turned my attention to the caves. He was a professor digging up tales from local Indians and others. Whispers of a giant crystal embedded deep in the mountains. What if it was some kind of diamond? What if it was crusted in gold? So many whispers I’ve heard through the years.
For over fifty years now I’ve kept my focus on this mountain and its caves. I’ve been mighty careful. I’ve heard dark warnings. Don’t touch the cave drawings or you go blind or worse, die. And do those pictures move and change? I can tell you for sure they do! But usually no one will listen to an old crusty man like me. Until maybe today.
I heard crying, you know, the Rock Baby. I was already pretty deep into the cave. The crying sounded far away. Like outside somewhere. That’s when the rock pictures started moving across the wall. Changing shapes, colors, characters. I wasn’t sure any man alive had seen it such. I’d never heard these whispers before.
I was struck frozen on the spot. And would not have been able to move anyway, so close to the rocks as I was standing. First the scene was one bear in a cave. Then dozens of bears exiting the cave. Then hundreds of bears climbing down the mountain towards the town. And when the pictures stopped moving, the cave wall was empty. No drawings were left.
I found my feet and ran out of the cave so fast. Lost my direction quickly but kept running down, down. I hit the hiking path and stumbled, rolled, leaving a cloud of dust to settle around me. When it cleared, there were two hikers. One alive, one dead.