Magic, Illusions and the Dark Side

The Spookiest Joint in San Antonio

If I didn't know better I'd have thought the guy at the bar last night was a paid actor, charged with lathering guests with history and stirring up the spooks. It took him two seconds to buy me a drink.

He was a burly Joe Pesci, dressed in a white suit and one of those straw hats baseball fans wore back in the 1930s. In his best fake half-Spanish/half-Cajun accent, he immediately regaled me with tales of how Roosevelt fired off his gun in the very seat in which I sat. He claimed to be a lawyer, praising Teddy and slamming Obama and cussing every other word.

Each time I tried to ask him a question, he only snuffed me out with a wilder story in a louder voice. He wanted to take me on a personal tour of the hotel, to which I politely declined. During my 45-minute stay he made similar overtures to each new guest.

"Nobody knows what he does," the bartender says, "but he's here all the time. Every day."

I had just one question for the guy, "Are you a ghost?"

He deadpanned, "Of course. What gave it away?"

Before I could decipher, a cop straight out of Andy Griffith sidled up to the bar.

"Water," he says. "Ice if you got it."

Another actor? Another "ghost"? Another eccentric.

Looking bewildered, the cop slammed his water, crushed his plastic cup, grumbled something about "prohibition" and exited just as fast as appeared.

The bartender shrugged. I skeedaddled.