Newt Swakhammer – The Star Witness of Roswell
“Look at that! There is an ass on the runway.”
“Be nice to the man, Bob, we want him to spill his guts.”
“No, an actual donkey silly. Oh . . . . okay, he is dragging it off.
He must have seen us coming.” He tilts their plane left, then right to
signal, the flying hello. He waves them in.
“He certainly looks friendly.”
“His name is Newt Swakhammer and he was the first person to
see the crash.”
“Swakhammer? Maybe he should have had the government
change his name, too. I couldn’t make up a name like that. Hi, I’m
“Take it easy, Lyn.” Ford doesn’t want her breaking up in front of
the rancher. “Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t find him a ranch in
____316 Gwendolyn Hoff
Argentina. I have a feeling that we are the last people the Air Force
wants him to talk to.”
“Too late.” And it was.
The landing went smoothly, except for having to dodge numerous
prairie dog holes and causing a small stampede of rangy Herefords.
“Don’t you worry about them cattle, they’ll be back,” Newt
assures his guests. “We don’t get many visitors out here.”
“Are those cows the same ones you had in New Mexico, because
I could see why they would be afraid of things that fly?” Excellent
segue into the topic at hand.
“The ones that ain’t longhorns, yeah, they followed me to Texas.
You know, come to think of it, those Herefords is a skidderish bunch.
Some of ’em would be gone for days, then come on back fatter than
they was when they left out.” Newt Swakhammer seems like a guy
who lets the world happen around him. “No sense in making sense
of every little thing.”
“Did that crash last year make any sense to you, Newt?” Bob
knows that Newt knows that Lyn knows.
“Just about scared the tar out o’me, it did. I was in the house,
rustling up some grub when it hit the ground, so bright it blinded me
for a bit. Still see spots floatin’ ‘round when I’m in the dark.”
“What did you see when you went out to see what’s what?” Lyn
narrows his myopic recollection.
“What didn’t I see? Junk everywhere, a full section of land sizzlin’,
“Did you pick up anything, for a souvenir?”
“At first I didn’t. Never saw anything like that stuff; gadgets, lights
still flashin’, some tin metal so thin you could see through it, even a
couple bodies. No noses on those little beggars, one of ’em still livin’
until the army showed up.”
“What did the army do with it, uh, them.”
“Carted ’em off wrapped in blankets, in a big time hurry too.
Told me they was kids in costume. Which I could believe, but that
don’t explain the grown-up I saw.”
“Yeah, some guy in a fancy blue suit, well it must have been fancy
before gettin’ singed to a crisp.”
____The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor 317
This interview was getting stranger by the minute. Little creatures,
foreign metals and a businessman; of all things, probably aboard the
identical craft that Lyn and Bob saw that same day in 1947.
“Things are starting to add up, aren’t they?” Bob Ford is astonished
at what he is hearing.
“Not only are they adding up, I think they are multiplying
exponentially. No matter what spin you put on it, these creatures
were in the business of snatching people off the planet, for God knows
what reason. I wonder how long that poor man was gone from his
family? Damn, Bob, what right do they have to pilfer people’s lives?
Look what they did to Sara, stealing part of her mind . . . . and a
kidney? What is that? It’s sick, that’s what it is.”
“Do you know someone that those beggars kidnapped?” Newt is
catching on to the thrust of their visit.
“That’s right, Newt, we have a friend who they had for six years.
She could have been on that ship when it went down. She must have
outlived her usefulness to them.” Carolyn Hanes had not taken the
time to let her bitterness surface, but now that the facts are lining up,
there is no reason to hold back.
“If they was so damned smart, what made them crash?” Newt wonders.
“I don’t know what brought them down, but it is a fitting end.”
“Could be that city slicker done got fed up with them messin’
with him and grabbed the steering wheel.”
“Not out of the realm of possibility, Mr. Swakhammer.” Ford
knows that something bad had to happen to a space craft that had to
have traveled millions of miles to reach Earth. It was time to see some
pieces of history. “May we see those souvenirs of yours?”
“Can y’all ride a horse?”
Bob looks at Lyn, whose dress is not exactly suited for a
western-style saddle. “Can’t you drive us?”
“Not where I got that stuff, guy. Newt Swakhammer ain’t anyone’s
“What do you mean, fool?”
“I never knows when those army guys will show up and I figure
they must enough of their own goodies, ain’t gonna have mine! Got it hid good.”
____318 Gwendolyn Hoff
“Well, then let’s get going, but make sure you give me a tame
horse,” requests the ever game Florida gal.
“Ol’ Flossy will give you a good ride, Miss and you best wear
this.” He hands her a Stetson that looked like it had been hanging on
that fence post since the days of Santa Anna and the Alamo. “Say, do
you mind if Bart there goes with us?” He points to what appears to
be a hired hand, who has been eyeing their single engine plane. “He
ain’t never seen one close up.”
“We will give him a ride when we get back.”
“Hoo, doggies, you hear that, Bart, they will take us flyin’! Saddle
up Flossy and three others, we’re headed for Fer Piece!”
10,000 acres covers a lot of ground and Newt’s “Far Piece” is all
that and ten miles more. About half way to San Angelo, a solitary
butte rises out of the parched earth.
“This is the northeast marker of my spread.”
“I thought I saw a band of Comanche back there.” Lyn has never
seen so much nothing.
“Apaches, maybe, not Comanche, they’re up north, but all the
injuns is up at Twin Buttes reservation, ’bout a days ride from here.”
“This will do just fine, Newt.” Lyn takes off her hat, which has
spared her face the forces of a midday sun, and fluffs her skirt. She
spits the dust from her bone-dry mouth.
“Hey, Bart, give the lady a canteen, can’t you see she’s
Once the horses were lashed to a batch of mesquite bushes, the
quartet of long riders skirts the base of the huge rock rising hundreds
of feet straight up. Invisible from anywhere but a few feet away,
they are led through a narrow slit in the small, flat-topped mountain.
Bart strikes a match, applying it to a ring of torches, revealing Newt
Swakhammer’s secret treasure.
For someone who sports a Hicksville personae, the rancher
who had a spaceship drop onto his land, actually has organized his
collection in a logical way. Like items are gathered together. “I tried
to fill my truck with one of everythin’, sepptin’ the little guys.”
“You did well, Newt, though I suspect the government might
frown on your actions. But I would suggest that some of this should
be examined by scientists. I think I know someone who will be able
____The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor 319
“I don’t know you well, Mr. Ford, but I am a trustin’ you and
Miss Lyn is who you say you is. And if you say this stuff should be
looked at, then it will, by golly.”
“Great Lyn, if you can stay here with Newt, Bart and I will ride
back and get the Cub? West Texas seems to be one big airstrip!”
“Remind you of anything, Bob Ford? You live for these adventures.”
Not unlike his partner, the one of them that takes adventure, real
or invented, and applies them to the printed page. Arrange and
rearrange words, make and remake life experiences until they tell an