Up in Harlan, Kentucky, there’s an old backroad called “Red Dog Road” and you don’t never want to get lost on it. Locals will tell ya there’s all kinds of unexplained stuff on that road at night. They seen strange, red lights flickering tree to tree. Some heard footsteps walking around on the road and on the leaves. Worst of all, a lot of people say they seen the ghost of a haggard old coal miner, holding his lantern, just a cryin’ and a hollerin’ somethin’ fierce. Well, I’m here tonight to say all that stuff is true and I’m going to tell you the real story of the Specter of Red Dog Road.
One summer, Eldon Parkey did some work for an old tobacco farmer just across the Tennessee border. The farmer paid Eldon a little bit but he also traded him some tobacco and gave him this red dog that showed up on the farm one day. That dog was meaner than a two-headed snake so the old farmer was more than happy to get rid of it, but Eldon loved that dog. Took him home and named him “Red Dog.”
Eldon noticed Red Dog only had 38 of the regular 42 dog teeth. He figured the other 4 of them must still be in some poor fella’s hind-end ‘cause that dog would bite you just to see what you taste like! The story was, one bite from Red Dog would keep a man’s soul from gettin’ into heaven or hell. So, didn’t nobody ever want to pet him. Come to think of it, ain’t nobody ever wanted to pet Eldon neither and Eldon said, you know what? That’s the way he liked it!
Eldon was actually a coal miner and one day word got around town that Eldon found a hunk of gold when he was working underground. That kinda thing didn’t normally happen in Kentucky and anything valuable you found was supposed to belong to the company, but Eldon stuck that gold rock in his lunch pail and took it back to his house. He put it in a steel lock box and set that box right beside Red Dog’s bed. Wasn’t nobody gettin’ that gold.
Most people around Harlan knowed Eldon kinda had a big mouth and, sure enough, he starts to braggin’ in town that he was gonna be a rich man. He took to wearing fancy smelling lotion and tellin’ people he was fixin’ to buy a new milking cow and a shiny new pocket watch. Said he’d soon have a clean pair of britches for every day of the week!
Well, I reckon when R.T. Scoggins heard about it, he didn’t like it one bit. R.T. was the Foreman at the mine and he said that gold belonged to the mine! Eldon found it while he was on the mine’s time and on the mine’s property, so R.T. said that gold rock should be in a steel lockbox in the mine office! He decided he’d just better go take it back himself, in person!
So, one night when Eldon was at the church, R.T. grabbed his shotgun and a big ol’ tater sack and snuck over to Eldon’s place down in the holler. It was all dark but R.T. looked through the front window and scanned the room real careful like. He could barely make out the silhouette of Red Dog over in the corner on a blanket; that steel lock box sittin’ right next to him. R.T. lifted his shotgun… pointed it right at Red Dog… Red Dog didn’t move an inch. R.T.‘s finger squeezed the trigger… BOOM!
There weren’t no sign of Red Dog nowhere.
R.T. didn’t see any blood so he figured he musta missed him and Red Dog got spooked and run off somewhere. Seemed as good a time as any to make his move so R.T. ran into the house, grabbed that steel lock box and hightailed it out the door and into the night.
Well, y’all, I don’t have to tell you, R.T. Scoggins didn’t get 100 yards down the holler road when all he saw in front of him was a mess of red hair and dog slobber! I mean, Red Dog tore him up in ways ain’t no one ever figured out how to put back together. Some people said they found pieces of R.T. over into Tennessee, maybe even Virginia.
Of course, R.T. got more than just bit by Red Dog so he ain’t never gettin’ nowhere near the other side of heaven or hell. His soul ain’t doin’ nothin’ for eternity, ‘cept wandering around Harlan, KY a cryin’ and a hollerin’.
So, if you think you’re brave enough, grab your own shotgun and a tater sack and maybe you can get yourself a hunk of gold. Or… you’ll be keeping company for eternity with the shredded specter of R.T. Scoggins way out there on Red Dog Road.