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The Spectator
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 by Frank Shortt
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C
Phantom of the Mohave
        A spectre wends his endless journey across desert wastes. He seeks life, hope, rest, and water. The strife within him tells of things undone, things that can never be accomplished.
        His buggy had been found on the Mohave by men who had searched diligently for him, day and night, all to no avail. His horse was still in the harness, dry bones still attached to the shafts. There was no sign of the driver.
        He had left Lancaster in search of the illusive lode. He was a young man, probably in his twenties, fresh from the east, tales of Mother lodes careening in his head. Friends warned him not to go alone. He would not listen. His obsession ruled his every passionate moment.
        The young waitress at the Dew Drop Inn thought to dissuade him from his purpose. Her curly locks and tender lips were not enough of a diversion.
         She pleaded with him at her father’s gate,  “Please reconsider! Do you not have a thought for the moments we have shared? It seems as though devils are influencing your every movement.”
        “Don’t worry about me, he replied, I am capable of taking care of myself. I hope to strike a wonderful claim and be able to fete you in style. Otherwise, my degree in geology will have been in vain.”
         “Go then, she replied, I will wait for you and pray that somewhere along the line you will come to your senses.”
        He left with not a care in the world not knowing that the horse he chose was on his last legs. He had bought the horse from the most unscrupulous dealer in town. This would not be the first time this dealer had been the cause of death for an unsuspecting greenhorn unfamiliar with the ways of the desert.
        After several days the young man reached a hot, deserted valley. Heat waves emanated on all sides. His object had been what he thought was a rocky mountain, thrust up from the desert floor, promising instant riches. He did not take into account the many mirages tricking the unwary. He did not think that his horse would give out just as he entered the valley. He did not think of the shortage of water, the alkali holes promising good water, but wreaking death with their pungent, harsh minerals. His only thought was of the illusive gold.
When his horse played out he began circular journeys on foot thinking he would find a prospector’s cabin and replenish his dwindling water. He might even be able to buy a horse. Nothing went as he had planned. Soon his water dwindled to on sip each day. His food ran out in the same manner.
        He still wanders in the Mohave, a phantom to be observed by such as he had been. Their bloodshot eyes catch promising glimpses of mirages that dwindle to nothingness as they are approached. He must wander aimlessly forever, seeking he knows not what. His soul cannot go forward and cannot return to whence it was. He is caught in a quandary. A dilemma of which there is no solution. Redemption is only an eternity of mirages.
        We too are like the Phantom of the Mohave. We sometimes wander around as if life was only a dream. Things that are important appear as unattainable. We seek the unattainable avoiding the reality of the moment.
        The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow can only be obtained by taking life one step at a time, holding on to the good, letting go of the bad.
        The young waitress waited until there was no hope of ever seeing her lover again. She soon married the local schoolmaster and sometimes at night she gets a glimpse of the phantom who had promised her riches beyond belief. She knew the truth all the time.