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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A character from the past shows up at the local bar. Or did he?


By John Ross Hart


Monday night in Goldfield, Nevada.The hour was late at the Santa Fe Saloon.Nobody sat at the bar.All the tables were empty.Bob, the young bartender was washing glasses, keeping his eye on the door, just in case somebody came in for a "nightcap."

There was lot of history here.Goldfield was founded in 1902, the latest of the continuing Nevada boomtowns, based on mineral riches.In this case, it was gold.  The Santa Fe was there from the beginning as prospectors, speculators, and just plain scoundrels partook of their many poisons.

Within two years, Goldfield mines were producing 800 tons of gold.The population reached a peak of 20,000.Somebody started publishing a newspaper.  Electricity, the telephone, and the railroad came to town.Wyatt Earp frequented the Santa Fe.So did "high rollers" such as George Wingfield, George Nixon, and Tex Rickert.  Joe Gans and Oscar "Battling" Nelson fought for the world championship of boxing here.The Santa Fe and its competition poured the libations well into the night.

Goldfield was where the action was.

But tonight, all was quiet.Only 268 people now called Goldfield their home.Most of the town fell to a flaming conflagration in 1923.Somehow, the Santa Fe Saloon survived.So did the Esmeralda County Court House.The Goldfield Hotel, George Wingfield's pride and joy, which he claimed to be the greatest hostelry between Chicago and San Francisco, continued to stand majestically, but faded.Only ghosts stayed here now.The place had been closed for 75 years.

The bartender again wiped the mahogany bar.

Santa Fe's regular bartender calls herself "The Meanest in Nevada."Bob never had problems with her.He had grown up in Carson City and went as far as two years of college majoring in Hospitality.Starting as a waiter in one of Harrah's Tahoe restaurants, he moved up to food service, eventually developing his skills as a bartender in the main lounge.

Bob met all types at the bar and heard all the stories that came with them.

"I could write a book about all this!," he kept saying.

In time, Bob finally decided it was time to write the book.That his live-in girlfriend decided to leave further encouraged him.He packed his old Toyota and drove, far from Lake Tahoe, far from Carson City.

He offered his services as a bartender in Yerington, Hawthorne, Tonopah, and those few wide spots in-between, hoping to make just enough to survive while he wrote.

Bob was starting to have second thoughts, but Goldfield was 25 miles down the road and he figured it best to give it one more try.

He was hired to work nights at the Santa Fe.

The bartender again wiped the mahogany bar, sipped some ginger ale, then munched on a piece of jerky.

"Another quiet night," he thought to himself.

Suddenly, he thought he heard steps.It got his attention.He began wiping the bar again as a stout man in a dated suit walked in.It certainly didn't look like something from "Men's Wearhouse."Plus the man wore a fedora and was smoking a cigar.He was certainly dressed nice but looked more like someone from 1917 than 2017.

Nonetheless, the bartender was ready.

"What can I get you?" asked Bob.

"Whiskey!," said the man."On the rocks!"

The bartender poured him a Jack Daniels.  Taking his glass, he took a sip.He immediately took a second, then looked at the glass.

"I don't remember Jack Daniels being so smooth" said the man."Did they change the recipe?"

"Not that I know of, said Bob.

"Have Nixon and Tex been by?, the man asked.

The bartender was perplexed."I haven't seem them," Bob responded.

"Oh well!," said the man."I'll just have another whiskey.They know where to find me."

Bob was curious to ask who he was and where he was from.The man talked about business, mentioned buildings and places that didn't exist, he also talked of Nevada politicians of whom he was unfamiliar.

It all seemed strange.

"You should bartend at my hotel and bring along that Jack Daniels," said the man as he laid down a solid gold nugget on the bar.

"I'll have to think about it," said Bob.

"You do that!," said the man.He wished the bartender a "good night" and headed down the street.

When Bob went outside to look, the street was deserted.

The following evening, he shared his experience with the regular bartender.

"So, you met George!," she replied with a smile.

"George?," questioned Bob.

"George Wingfield," said the boss."He built this town.The hotel is his pride and joy.His ghost is still there.  He comes here on occasion."

"Well, I've been looking to write a good story," confessed Bob."I believe I have found it!"


Submitted: October 19, 2020

© Copyright 2020 John Ross Hart. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

Nice story, combining local history with ghosts.

Mon, October 19th, 2020 10:43am

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