Friday, October 5, 2012



   Last fall, two of our cousins who've assisted us on past investigations were visiting from Denver one weekend and James and I had planned an evening of spooky spiritchasing fun with them.  We started with dinner at what was described as "the world's largest family pizza restaurant", a 14,000 square foot two-level turn-of-the-century structure.  Built in 1973, the establishment was home to 120 original leaded and stained glass pieces of art, in addition to several authentic Victorian-era artifacts purchased from Denver and Central City.  Each piece had it's own strong, haunting charm, vibrations of which still continued to echo through to our time.

   The building had an opera-house feel to it, complete with crystal chandeliers, brass-knob staircases, waitstaff in period attire and an old-time player piano providing the perfect atmosphere.  I could feel myself stepping back through the ages, being able to appreciate the entertainments unchanged and just as they were back then.  The walls were covered with the old artifacts, from aged branding irons and framed pages of Victorian periodicals to stuffed animal heads and a frilly, long-sleeved lace garment from an unknown woman.  Also on display on the upper level were realistic wax mannequins of "Fargo and his sweetheart, Sophia".

   We decided on this eclectic eatery as we'd heard some of the urban legends surrounding the pizzeria, how the mannequins were known to change position overnight to confused employees, in addition to the frequent sightings of the apparition of a mysterious woman in the white lace garment.  Other employees reported things moving about of their own accord, as well as the sound of someone humming some forgotten, olde-time melody.  These incidents were apparently attributed to the "Fargo's Phantom" ( or "Sophia" ), though no one was able to say ( to us, anyway ) if she had been a real person or was in fact fictional.  Perhaps something of the artifact's original owners was still being played out here, caught in a temporal loop for as long as their items hung on the walls, the familiar piano medleys helping to bring them back to life...

   Upon entering, my puer eternis ( eternal youth ) began jumping up and down in excitement.  The restaurant instantly reminded me of another large, visually spectacular establishment in Denver called Casa Bonita, which had remained a favorite of mine since childhood.  We ordered our pizza and made our way through the salad bar, then headed upstairs to find seats near the balcony for the best view.  It was a busy night, and we waited for the waitstaff to clear a table which had just been vacated.  There was no one seated next to us in our corner, granting us some privacy as we joked about, sipped our sodas and took silly pictures, frequently peering over the railing to take in all of the activity below.

   After dinner, James took a couple close-up shots of the wax figures that had been seated directly across from us.  We went downstairs looking for other good photo opportunities and visited the arcade.  In one private area, and only in that area, we kept getting a sort of film, or vapor, in the forefront of our photos.  There was no moisture or smoke in that area and it definitely wasn't cold enough to photograph one's breath, or hot enough for condensation.  I had seen this phenomenon before in some very haunted sites we'd each previously been to and we were thrilled with the possibility that a spirit was indeed near.  It reminded me of the mist we'd seen inside Cave Of The Winds, the fabled mist surrounding the entrance to the Underworld.  It was just the start of an exciting, adventurous evening that would provide The SpiritChasers with some very intriguing visual media.  Later that night we would visit a former gambling den which had been abandoned.  We took a number of photos there and were thoroughly amazed by the images that began appearing on our viewscreens ( but more on that in a future blog ).

   The next evening, after my cousins had left, I uploaded our camera's memory card and clicked on the "slideshow" button.  I did notice one faint orb suspended next to me in the corner I was seated at, but other than the photos of the strange mist, there wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  That is, until the slideshow had nearly come to a close.  I had nearly missed it, laughing at several of our silly shots and poses, until I came to one in particular that sent goosebumps up and down my arms.  I halted the slideshow immediately and enlarged the picture.  It was one of the last photos we had taken upstairs, the one of the wax figures.  I was looking at the figure of "Sophia" when I noticed an oddity just above and to the right of her head.  Behind and across from her was the corner table we'd been seated at, which had still remained empty and waiting to be cleared when James took the photo of the figures.  There was no one within range of our camera.  No living person, that is.  Each click of my mouse's wheel revealed more of the nearly-transparent form.  It was a woman, sitting in the exact same spot where the orb had floated beside me.

Even before lightening the photo I could still clearly make out her features.  Her hairstyle was one popular during the 1800's, and she was wearing a frilly,white silk blouse, exactly like the one sitting inside a picture frame nearby.

   I knew no one had been in that corner because I had been looking over the table for any belongings we might have missed as James was snapping the pictures.   It was an amazing find and I was utterly full of gratitude for an entity who knew we were looking for her, and had decided to join us at the table.

   What others have deemed the Fargo's Phantom we now affectionately refer to as Sophia, and still invite her to join us for dinner whenever we return.  I thought of all the cheesy photographs we'd taken of ourselves that evening and my heart leaped at the thought of Sophia joining in on the fun, because at full enlargement, I could see that she was also smiling...

Christopher Allen Brewer, October, 2012

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