Tombstone, Arizona is a real city. It has a high school, gas stations, and everything. Many think of it as just a tourist attraction, and that’s what one section of the city is. It’s an interesting place, “Old Tombstone,” a section of town devoted to glorifying gunfights, drinking, lascivious dance hall girls, and rowdy cowboys.
It flourished from 1881 to 1889, during the height of the silver boom. It was a combination theater, saloon, gambling parlor, and brothel. It closed when the silver mine folded, but re-opened in 1934 and has been a top tourist attraction ever since. I won’t spend time on more history of Tombstone. You can find plenty of that on the internet. This story is about one of the city’s top attractions, The Bird Cage Theatre. I’ve been there three times. First time out of curiosity, and the other times to take out-of-state visitors.
The theater is said to be haunted, and has been featured on television in the paranormal investigation shows, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and others. In the front parlor of the Bird Cage is the original, massive, and ornate bar with the original mirror behind it. There are a few bullet holes in the opposite wall. A middle age lady dressed up like a dance hall girl explains the history of the place and urges you to go farther into the building to see the theatre and gambling tables. She also sells souvenir postcards and fake sheriff badges.
On this one visit, while the woman was giving her talk, I was rummaging around, looking at some stuff they had for sale. Off in the corner of the room, was a pair of cowboy boots. I don’t know if they once belonged to Wyatt Earp or were bought through Amazon. They were quite dusty, so I guessed they’d been there awhile. Taped to one of them was a faded note. It read, “For price, see Laura.” I thought the note might have been written, some time ago, by the person behind the bar, but I didn’t know.
Just before leaving the place, I went up to the bar, hesitated, and with contrived nervousness asked, “Is your name Laura?”
She said, “Yes, it is. Why do you ask?”
“Well, a few minutes ago,” I explained, “Your face changed, and became the face of my ex-wife, Laura. It just appeared. Kind of faded in, stayed for about ten seconds, and then slowly faded away. I know it was her.”
The woman looked at me suspiciously, clearly shaken just a bit. For years, she had been telling people the place was haunted. Perhaps she’d come to believe it. She didn’t know my ex-wife, Laura, was still alive and unlikely to appear as a ghost.
I did not want to spoil it for the dance hall girl. I’d just given her another ghost story to tell.
So I turned and walked toward the door. As I looked back, she was staring at the mirror with a blank look. . .on her real face.