This story comes from my brother who knew these bullies and witnessed these events first hand. He told me about this just a few months after it happened. At the time I was eleven years old, and my brother was twenty-one.
I have changed the names of the people involved in this true story to protect the families. All of the people involved in this story are now deceased, including my brother, who was just an innocent bystander.
This is a true story about Dennis Cole, a black man. Dennis would be considered autistic, but back in 1899 autism wasn’t being diagnosed.
Back then, people with autism were just considered to be stupid, or dumb. Plus being black with autism in the early 1900s was a combination of hardships that Dennis Cole just couldn’t overcome. He simply gave up on getting an education and decided to drop out of school to go to work and help feed his family.
As you may know, people with autism might be limited in some areas but might have a higher degree of abilities in other areas. This was the case with Dennis Cole. He wasn’t very good at math or talking. He had a severe studdering problem. On the positive side, Dennis Cole was psychic.
Dennis Cole often talked to his dead grandfather. Other family members made fun of him for talking to dead people, but they quickly changed their minds when Dennis started mentioning things that could only be known by the deceased.
Dennis Cole was a big man, six foot six inches, and very strong. He got a job with a railroad switching yard in Dallas Texas in 1916. At work, everyone just went by their last name.
My brother meets Cole
My brother, who was not a bully, started working for that same railroad yard in 1964. Cole had already been there for more than 49 years. Cole walked with a limp because of a railroad accident in 1932 when his ankle was broken in several places by a train axel.
Because Cole had so much seniority, and he was limited by his limp, He was given mostly easy jobs. This was a constant irritation to some of the other employees.
Roberts, Blackwell, Johnson, and Bishop were bullies and made Cole’s life a living hell.
Four employees, in particular, Roberts, Blackwell, Johnson, and Bishop gave Cole a really hard time. They made fun of his limp, his stuttering, and the fact that he talked to his dead grandfather.
These four coworkers would constantly make Cole’s life a living hell. They mocked him and played practical jokes on Cole almost daily. For the most part, Cole never got mad. He was used to society treating him poorly.
Working for the railroad was hard labor
Cole and about 10 other employees worked the graveyard shift. Their job was to load and unload trains into trucks for local deliveries. Between trains, the employees would sit in the break room with nothing to do.
While waiting for the next train, Roberts, Blackwell, Johnston, and Bishop would entertain themselves by making fun of Cole. They would ask Cole questions, then mock his answers. They would ask Cole to talk to his dead grandfather and other dead people.
Cole talks to Johnson about his dead grandmother.
One day, the four bullies were teasing Cole in the breakroom when Johnson, ask Cole to talk to his dead grandmother. Everyone was giggling and snickering at Cole’s expense.
Then Cole said to Johnson, “Your grandmother, Ida May told me to tell you that she knows the fire wasn’t your fault.” Everyone at the table broke out in a loud roaring laugh. Everyone except Johnson, who looked like someone had just hit in the back of the head with a shovel. His face drained to a pale white, and his eyes swelled up and tears started trickling down his cheeks.
How could Cole know about the fire? How is this possible? From that day forward, Johnson was no longer one of the bullies Cole.
The Wanted Poster Prank
In the break room, there was a bulletin board that contained wanted posters. Lots of people hitch rides on trains. Back then they were called “Hobos.” Most of these people were just trying to get a free ride, but some of them were really bad people who were simply hiding from the law.
The bulletin board had a list and pictures of people who were wanted for serious crimes, such as bank robberies, kidnapping, rape, and murders.
On March 14, 1950, the FBI started the “Ten Most Wanted” program. They released weekly posters of wanted criminals. Some of these posters were released to the railroad yards because criminals were known to hitch a ride on the railroad for transportation.
Edward Davidson was on the bulletin board for killing a railroad inspector. The inspector was checking for bums riding on the rails when Edward jumped out and split his skull with an ax.
Roberts thought it would be funny to play a trick on Cole. Blackwell and Bishop were also in on the gag. They spent the entire night talking to Cole about Edward killing the rail inspector with an ax, and how they needed to be on the lookout for this guy.
The Prank is launched with unexpected results.
At 2:00 AM on July 23rd, 1964, Roberts took an extra pair of old work boots and an ax and some duct tape and walked down past the last light on the platform, to an open train car in the dark.
Roberts positioned the boots to look like someone was hiding behind an open train door, so all you could see were the toes sticking out. Then he taped the ax onto the door, so it looked like someone was hiding, holding an ax.
Then Roberts returned to the break room, where Blackwell and Bishop were talking to Cole. “You better watch out when you inspect the trains, I have a feeling that Edward is going through Dallas, on his way to Mexico”
They could tell that Cole was getting scared of all of the talk. Cole asked, “Maybe one of you boys can go with me?” Blackwell said, “Oh hell no, not on your life. It’s your job to count and inspect the empty cars, not mine.”
After the break, it was time to get back to work.
Roberts, Blackwell, and Bishop were geared up for some big-time laughing. They watched and waited as Cole picked up his clipboard, and flashlight and reluctantly headed down the dimly lit platform to inspect the train cars.
The three bullies were already giggling and snickering with anticipation. The platform was made of cement layered with wooden planks, so you could hear Cole step, then drag his other bum foot along the path. Cole had his own unique sound when walking across the floor.
It took Cole nearly 4 minutes, dragging his bum foot down past the last platform light, into the darkness, almost out of sight. Then he seemed to freeze in fear. “He must be able to see the boots and ax,” said Roberts.
Roberts, Blackwell, and Bishop busted out in a roaring laugh as they watched Cole drop his flashlight and clipboard and stumbled backward. Cole was too scared to run, too scared to scream. He just stood there for about 5 seconds, then fell flat on his back.
Blackwell said to Roberts, “you better go and check on him.” Blackwell and Bishop were still laughing while Roberts ran down the platform to Cole. Roberts finally reaches Cole, who was still lying on his back, with his eyes wide open, holding his chest, and gasping for air.
Roberts yells, “Call an ambulance!”
The three bullies had scared Dennis Cole to death.
They removed the boots, tape, and ax so there was no evidence of the prank. The police and ambulance arrived at the scene and were told that Cole simply fell on the train platform and died. They neglected to tell the police about their prank. There wasn’t any reason for an investigation, so Cole’s death was ruled as “Death from natural causes.”
The bullies friendship ends and the nightmare begins
Since Cole’s death, Roberts, Blackwell, and Bishop didn’t really have anything in common. They were just three bullies at work who picked on a guy named Cole. Now Cole is gone, and Roberts, Blackwell, and Bishop went on their separate ways. What they didn’t realize at the time was that Cole wasn’t finished with them yet.
Cole deals with Roberts
Roberts moved to Amarillo Texas and started working at the railroad yard. His job was to inspect the railroad cars for hobos. One night during one of his inspections, he noticed a shadow of a person going into an empty train car at the end of the platform.
As he headed down the platform, he had a flashback of Cole, doing the same thing. Now he understands the fear of the situation. Now it was his turn. As he got near the train car, he could see that someone was standing in the dark corner of the train. He shined the light on the shadow, and to his shock, it was Cole!
He dropped his clipboard and flashlight and ran back to the railroad platform station. Each step he took made the platform more further away. No matter how fast he ran, the platform seemed to be moving away at the same pace. He thought “What is going on? ” He looked back over his shoulder and saw Cole running with an ax, except this time Cole wasn’t limping, he was running and catching up with Roberts!
About this time Roberts opened up his eyes and realizes that this had all been just a nightmare. He was dreaming, but his heart was pounding a hundred miles per hour.
Then he felt his heart starting to burn. He couldn’t get his heart to slow down. It started beating faster and faster, then suddenly stopped.
Roberts died with his eyes wide open, gasping his last breath, now he knows exactly what Cole went through.
Cole deals with Blackwell
Blackwell went insane. He was seeing Cole everywhere he went. He lost his job at the railroad because at work he went into the bathroom and saw Cole in the reflection of the mirror, and started screaming. An ambulance was called and they picked up Blackwell and took him to a hospital where he was diagnosed with Acute Schizophrenia. He was later released to his family then a few weeks later committed suicide.
Cole deals with Bishop
Bishop learned about Roberts and Blackwell and determined that he wasn’t a believer in ghosts and wasn’t going to be intimidated by any dead spirits. He reasoned that Roberts and Blackwell died of their own superstitious beliefs.
That wasn’t going to happen to him. Bishop continued to work at the railroad yard in Dallas. One day he was working between two rail cars, trying to disconnect the brake lines. While between the cars he heard a familiar voice yell out from the platform above: “OK, All IS CLEAR.” Before Bishop could yell “NO WAIT,” the entire train jumped forward several feet trapping Bishop under the wheels.
Bishop felt his legs being crushed by the train. He could see that the wheels were resting on both legs, just a few inches above his knees.
An emergency crew showed up and they had to amputate both of his legs on the spot. It was miraculous, but Bishop was probably going to live. He noticed that when the paramedics raised him from the tracks up onto the platform, it was the exact spot where Cole had died.
Then Bishop, the last of the three bullies remembered the “All is Clear” voice and recognized that it was Cole’s voice.