A tale that turns the American western on its head
California, late 1848. A nameless saloonkeeper has been alone for months while his wife, Joanna, is in Coloma caring for her ailing mother. Joanna’s letters, which tell of her mother’s nervous health crisis and the destruction of the surrounding land, have become darker and stranger. Meanwhile, the saloonkeeper witnesses several unexplainable events—voices speaking in strange languages in places where he sees only familiar faces, the mysterious death of a creekful of fish, a Stranger with a mouthful of gold teeth, and a dying Native American man who trails white feathers everywhere he goes.
The fields of Sutter’s Fort, near where Joanna is staying, haunt the saloonkeeper’s dreams, and soon he decides he must leave the sanctuary of his saloon and travel to her. Caught up in a journey north, the saloonkeeper witnesses the sometimes horrifying, senselessly violent shifting Gold Rush landscape. Amidst the chaos, he finds his only refuge in thoughts of Joanna. But when his troubled past emerges in glimpses he struggles to repress, the nameless traveler is left with a decision that will change not only his life but the lives of everyone around him.