Night had already closed in on me as I walked through the once bustling silver-mine boom town of Goldfield. The sidewalks had long since been rolled up and I was but a lone stranger to its streets, and so I stayed to the highway which lead me passed the old, shuttered Goldfield Hotel.
Curiosity had always been a card I didn’t read well when I’ve held it in my hand, and this dark-time was no different as I did my best to peer inside the old building, through dust-laden front windows. There was very little and nothing to see, so I continued on by.
As I reached the end of the building, I suddenly found myself confronted with an open space and for the first time in a long period, I felt fatigued. Because of this feeling, I decided to hunker down with my rucksack as a pillow and sleeping bag as my blanket, near the north corner of the hotel and sleep till dawn.
With very little traffic, save for the occasional long-haul truck, it was quiet and I soon found myself asleep. However, it wasn’t too long after that I heard the familiar sound of coins dropping in the pan of a one-armed bandit and boisterous laughter.
Someplace, nearby I heard thick beer mugs clink and I could smell the sulfur odor of a freshly burnt match and the aroma of a foul lit cigar. Amid these things came the tin-penny melody of a piano and the deep, raspy but very sultry voice of a woman belting out, “You saw me standing alone without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own…”
Without realizing it, I was tapping my right foot to the mysterious songstress’ vocalizations. “So there is some life left in this old town after all,” I thought as I continued to drift in and out of a gentle slumber.
And as the party grew in its intensity, I noticed more life along the main roadway, people walking back and forth and long cars with large tail-fins and rounded hoods. They appeared as shadows and I came to think of them as all part of a wonderful dream that left me thinking of my childhood.
It was shortly before sunrise, when I got up to relieve myself in the vacant lot next to the hotel, that I saw lights from the hotel’s front windows, dancing on the sidewalk, reaching into the street, where I was certain there should be none. Finished with my business, I turned to go have a look – but tripped in a random hole in the field – and as I scrambled to my feet, the lights, the sounds, the smells – they were all gone.
Suddenly, I felt terribly alone as I made my way back to the spot against the wall near which I’d been sleeping. Gone was the joyful nightlife I’d been witnessing and returned was the dull little spot in the roadway which glowed only slightly in the dim light of a gas station on the opposite side of the asphalt.
Sleep never returned to me as I sat against the vacant building’s wall, watching the sun highlight the long expanse of desert that lay before me and that I’d soon be traveling.