I spent Thursday and Friday in the dying town of Goldfield, Nevada, population 350 +/- 25, seat of Esmeralda County (said to be named after the dancing gypsy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, on the grounds that this barren land was a dance of wilderness and destruction, or some such). There are no motels in Goldfield, and one place to eat, dubbed the Mozart Club. At the Mozart Club you can get a hamburger, or a cheeseburger, or a "Mozart Burger," which is a cheeseburger topped with a thick slice of ham. Vegetarian options are restricted to grilled cheese, and a salad bar which essentially affords you the opportunity to dump ranch dressing on a big plate of lettuce.

On my second day at the Mozart Club I met 83-year-old Mr. Karl, who paid for his lunch at the same time as me. I know that he was 83 years old because he told me several times. He also told me his birthday (3 June), his sun sign (Gemini), and then he asked me if I had a car.

"Sure," I said, "but it's down at the courthouse."

"Would you do me a favor?" he asked. "I've got to walk down - got to pick up a TV antenna - my dog destroyed the TV antenna and I got a fella to fix it. Need to pick it up. It's windy out there."

"I see."

"Would you give me a ride?" he asked. "You seem like a nice young man."

As we walked to the car he explained that he knew where platinum was located in the surrounding hills. He went dowsing for platinum, he said, but he refused to divulge the particulars of his method. He claimed to have found a billion dollars' worth of platinum. He also said that I should buy stock in Ford, since Ford had sent a disease to China to disrupt the Chinese economy, and it showed their business savvy.

In the car he told me his name several times: Karl, used to be Karlstein but he changed it to avoid anti-Semitism. I could look him up in the telephone directory, he said, and went on to give me his number anyway. Maybe he could hire me. He had a bunch of projects that he was working on, which he hoped to give to the government as a way of repaying his country. He had been in discussions with President Kennedy and his brother the attorney general, but after their assassinations the dialogue stalled.

We stopped at a trailer; nobody was home, but Mr. Karl's antenna was on the front porch. He picked it up and we drove to Mr. Karl's house, which was situated on top of a hill. He had a view of all of Goldfield, such as it was. He asked me to note that he had the best property in Goldfield. There were a billion dollars of platinum located on the property. An aged yellow Lincoln Continental sat in the front yard amidst heaps of scrap metal; he asked me to admire it. He said that he had taken out the steering wheel - who needs that? - and then explained the engine. It was an implosion engine that required no energy to run once you gave it the initial kick. People said that such an engine defied the laws of physics, that if it existed we couldn't have a universe, but there it was. He had known Buckminster Fuller and they had talked about impregnating the metal with carbon compounds, so that it would run more smoothly. He and Fuller had devised a planned community along the lines of Fuller's geometry - not those domes, but using those angles. You could put up three more Renos on the highway outside Goldfield, and it was going to happen. The hotel downtown, that had been tied up in litigation for a decade, had just been sold and they were going to reopen it, with a real coffee shop. It would turn Goldfield around; all those towns would spring up on the highway, and the thing, he told me confidentially, by way of thanks for giving him the ride, was that you could still buy the property. Anyone could buy it. Now was the time.

Mr. Karl had trouble working the handle mechanism on the passenger door. Several times during his speech, I leaned across him to push the door open, but it kept falling back closed.

"You're getting your exercise today," Mr. Karl noted.

"Yes," I said.

"How old are you, anyway?"

"I'm twenty-four."

"Twenty-four. Two eggs. Double yolks. My God, you have good teeth."

He had never married any of his girlfriends, he said. He wasn't a queer, he just was never able to tie himself down. There had been five girlfriends. His dogs were running around inside the house, I should see his dogs. He'd put in vinyl floors himself. But did I have somewhere to be, he asked? Oh, I had to be back at the courthouse. Well, I should give him a call sometime. Maybe he would hire me. I pushed the door back open for him and he stepped out, carrying his TV antenna, then started up the path to his house.

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