The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
"I'm just a ghost in this house
I'm shadow upon these walls,
As quietly as a mouse
I haunt these halls."

- Allison Krauss, Ghost in This House

Tale from Shady

Rio Grande River "When I was growing up in the the dusty desert city of El Paso, Texas, right near the Mexican border, I heard many facinating legends, ghost stories, and superstitions. The area is rich with folklore and a bloody history that lends itself to all kinds of interesting tales. This one is probably my favorite-the story of La Llorona (pronounced la yo-ro-na). Just saying the name gives me chills. La Llorona means "The Crier," and she is part sorrowful banshee, part angry spirit, part cursed creature.

I was told that long ago, a widow with two small children lived in the poorest section of Juarez, the town across the border from El Paso. She began a relationship with a wealthy man and wanted to marry him, but the man did not want to marry her, because she had children. So in the dead of night she took them down to the the Rio Grande, stabbed them both, and threw them into the river. Rio Grande River Then she slipped through the night to her lover's house. When the man saw her blood-streaked white gown, he was horrified and immediately rejected her. This drove her mad, and she ran back to the river, screaming and tearing her hair, trying in vain to find her poor children. But it was too late.

The story varies here. Some people say she stabbed and drowned herself. Others insist that she was caught by an angry mob of people and killed for her crimes. Either way, she died, and that's when the creepiness begins.

Soon people started to report hearing a horrible wailing from the river's banks. Then the sightings began. People related tales of seeing an apparition wandering the riverbanks at night-something with the body of a woman and the head of a horse. The creature, who wore a long white, bloody nightgown, was wailing as it searched the waters. The locals said that it was the spirit of the woman, cursed to wander the banks of the Rio Grande for all eternity, wearing a horse's head as punishment for her awful sins. To this day, whenever someone is found drowned in the Rio Grande (which happens constantly), people whisper that La Llorona is still lonely and looking for company.

I had a very freaky, mysterious experience out there once. We drove over a bridge across the river to the darker scarier side and got out to look around a little bit. One friend yelled out like he was startled. We saw him hurl something toward the bridge and come running back toward the car, yelling at us to get in and go. He told us that he saw a horrible monster-woman standing in the middle of the bridge, looking at him. He said that he was so scared that he had thrown his pocketknife at it.

As we headed back over the bridge, we suddenly stopped laughing as we found our way blocked by a box that was sitting in the very center of the narrow bridge. There was no way it was there before, or we wouldn't have been able to get over the bridge in the first place. We were all scared witless, so half of us got out to move the box. We could see dark liquid dripping down the sides, and when we lifted the lid, we freaked! it was filled with blood, bloody organs, pieces of bone, hair, and other stuff. I recall clearly seeing an eyeball! We sped out of there as fast as we could and pulled over at the first place we found-an old bar-where we ran in, asking to use the phone.

We were all panicked and freaked. We called the cops, who came out and met us and asked us to lead the way. To our surprise the bloddy box was still there (we half expected it to have disappeared). As soon as they opened the box, the cops unholsted their guns and called for backup. More cops came and took statements from us, and then we had to leave. The only explanation they gave us when we left was maybe it was "bait" left by a fisherman.

That was one of the most bizarre things that has ever happened to me. My friend still insists that he saw La Llorona, and he's convinced that she left the box there for us. My other friends think we almost stumbled across a muderer who was dumping what was left of his victim. Another friend even has a theory that someone was leaving an offering for La Llorona. I don't know what I beleive, but that was something I'll never forget!" -Shady