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All Good Things: Epilogue

So that's how it ends. At least for now.
I've kept this blog for eleven years. Through three jobs and countless adventures. And after all these years, I'm happy. I have a family, friends, a career. And I've realized, over the last couple of years, that I've actually been getting too busy with all of that stuff to blog about it.
But maybe one more.
Just after I got on the board at Piper, LHPS took a field trip.
We got together on a Sunday morning, and went to the Austin Dam ruins.

"Guys," I said as we got out of the car,"I'd like to welcome you to the Austin Dam. It burst in 1911, and killed almost eighty people. Some of the survivors moved to Lock Haven afterward, probably causing some hauntings there."
'Wow," said Mille, looking at the giant pieces of the dam that were still standing, towering above us. "And they just left them here?"
"Yeah, what are you gonna do with them?"
"I take it you already have seen the signs," Theresa said,"Instructing us not to climb on the ruins?"
"Yeah, I've done it."
We walked across the field, toward the huge chunks of the dam. I was with Kara, Theresa, Millie, and Holly, our newest member, promoted from Teen Paranormal. Behind us, I could hear little Paul playing.
A few of us stopped to take photos, and we approached the dam.
"It's amazing," said Kara, looking up at the ruins.
"Check it out, Holly," I said. "This happened a hundred and five years ago. Some people will tell you that Pennsylvania is boring, but that's not true. There are a million places to explore."
"That's so awesome," said Holly, smiling.
"It is," I said. "There's always adventures around. Always."

We all went to the pavilion.
"Everyone enjoy lunch," said Theresa. "We've got all kinds of food, don't be shy."
"I brought plates and cups," said Millie.
We all gathered around the tables, sitting down. I sat with Paul, who was holding a small tube of bubble stuff.
"Bubbas," he said, holding it out to me.
"That's right, bubbles," I agreed, and blew some into the air. He laughed gleefuly.
I blew more bubbles. My little boy laughed, delighted.
"Gen! Bubba!"
I smiled.
"Daddy loves you."

So that's how it ends.
There are worse ways to go out than sitting with your child, surrounded by your friends.
Maybe, eventually, I'll start another blog. Maybe I'll get the urge to write about my life again, and begin a new one. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy my life.
Or maybe I'll try something new. A book, a novel. I'll pretend it's fiction; who's going to believe a book about ghosts and buried treasures in a Pennnsylvania community? Some of my adventures might adapt well to a book.
And if you happen to see me, maybe at the library or down at Piper, feel free to stop and ask me how it's going.
You never know.
Maybe I'll even share.

All Good Things: Conclusion

"You're wearing it!" Fin smiled when I walked into the Piper Museum. I was wearing my brand-new blue Giwoggle T-shirt.
I grinned. "it just came last night. I couldn't wait to wear it, actually. My kids are gonna love it."
"That's so awesome."
"Would you mind putting on coffee?"
"I already did."
"Thanks. Excellent." I turned to Stacey. "How's the Fly-In going?"
"It's going well. How was your first board meeting?"
"About right, for a board meeting. I spent two hours wondering why I ever wanted to be on the board. But I'll survive."
Stacey grinned. "They're not all that bad. Have you been in the big C-54 yet?"
"My little boy tried to get in the cockpit and fly it last night. Anything you need from me?"
"We just got a donation of two Piper Cub tires. If you could take them to the archives and accession them, that would be great. Oh, and by the way...." Stacey handed me a small key on a chain. "Here's your key to the museum."
I smiled.
"You have no idea what this means to me."

I opened the door to the archives, and turned on the lights. Setting my pack by the desk---My desk---I looked around the room.
File cabinets. A line of shelves with artifacts on them. Books about aviation. All my responsibility.
I'm back in the museum business.
"So what's on the agenda?" Fin came in behind me.
"I'd like to teach you some stuff about archiving and accessioning artifacts during the Fly-In," I said. "And we'll explore the building together. But I also want to find out about Max Conrad."
"Tell me more," said Fin.
"Max Conrad was known as the Flying Grandpa," I said. "He began setting world records in his Piper Aztec at age forty-seven, and kept up for most of his life. I'd like to include him on my tour tonight, if I can find out where he lived. And if it's within walking distance of the library. So we need to do some digging."
"I'm in," said Fin.
"We have a couple of files on Max Conrad back here," I said. I dug them out, and handed one over.
We paged through. I said."Max Conrad was pretty freaking awesome. This guy set records for speed, for distance....I may write a column about him."
"That'll be interesting."
"Actually one may not be enough."
I looked over one article. "Here's a story about Conrad crash-landing in Greenland. He went back later and wasn't able to retrieve his plane, but....Ah. Here we go! Score."
"Do tell."
"He lost the plane, but he got back his watch....And a Fallon Hotel key."
"So he was living at the Fallon for a while. Which means I have a reachable residence for him, which means I can include it on the tour tonight."
"Awesome! I'll be there."
"Good. I sort of missed you last week. Also, there was this bear."
Jen came into the archives.
"Hey, Lou, we have a question out here. A guy wants to know the difference between a Piper Tri-Pacer and the next line, the Piper Caribbean."
"I'm on my way."
"Also, we have someone who called about your article on the Last Dogfight, and an author who needs a photo of the prototype for the Piper Seneca."
"Wow." said Fin. "You're in big demand."
I smiled.
"Yeah," I said. "It feels pretty good."

 A little later, when the crowd had died down a bit, I walked back into the archives. I sat down at the desk, then turned the chair around to look at the room.
This is all my territory, now.
It's a huge archive, full of information and artifacts. And I'm the one they've selected to handle it.
Not only am I helping out....I'm on the board. I'm in charge.

I drank some of my coffee.
After all these years....All the adventures....I'm running a museum. I'm one of the people making the decisions. And I'm doing something that I really care about.
I'm going to love this place.

I stood up and got to work.
It's almost like it's a happy ending.

All Good Things: Part Six

We boarded the train at nine AM, and left Lock Haven for Bellefonte. Downtown Lock Haven was doing their annual train fundraiser, and guess who had been asked to talk some history? I was sitting with Tif, Michelle, and Paul when we got out of the city. I stood up and headed for the staff car.
"Back in a while, guys. Time to go earn my keep."
I started at the front car, and worked my way from car to car, telling historical stories. I talked about the time Ulysses S. Grant had a party on a train in Renovo. I talked about the naked sewing machine salesman whose horse was frightened by a train in Flemington. I watched the audience, as I'd learned to do, and gauged their reactons to the stories. Everything went over well, and I was back with my family when the train pulled into Bellefonte.
There was a festival going on, and we walked around it. We looked at antique cars, and listened to the Lindy Sisters, and let Paul play in the park. He was warning the other little kids about the slides.
"Vey vey vey hot," he was saying, long after they'd quit listening.
He got off the playgorund and toddled off toward the bridge. I followed him, and we walked around the garden a bit. And then I looekd up---Some of the Star Wars characters from the festival were coming over the bridge. I smiled, delighted.
"Michelle! Get the camera over here!"
I picked up Paul, and we approached the characters. I said,"This is awesome! Check it out, Paul! Will you high-five Boba Fett?"
My wife appeared behind me, taking photos. Paul gave Boba Fett a high five. He was nervous around the Jawas, though, saying,"No no no."
"This is so cool," I said. "Michelle, take our picture with Boba Fett and Kylo Ren. Paul, this is excellent, buddy. May the Force be with you."

"So I hope you're satisfied with the performance, Natasha," I said. I was talking to the head of Downtown Lock Haven, sitting on the train on the way home. "I want to make sure you guys feel you got your money's worth."
"Oh, yes," she said. We were in the staff car, sitting at a table. Paul was coloring with a piece of paper she'd given him.
""I'm glad. I had a great time. I have some thoughts on local tourism I'd like to discuss with you guys, too. I'll come down to the office sometime."
"That's great."
I picked up Paul, and we walked back to the other car. I sat down with Michelle, and Paul went to Tif. She picked him up and held him, and sang to him.
This is a perfect day. I could die right now, and everything would be okay. I'd be happy.
it's a perfect day.

After we got back on the train, we took a ride out to Beech Creek. Paul was alseep in the back of the car when we got there, but he woke up pretty fast when he saw food and people. It was Katelynn's high school graduation party.
Katelynn, Savanah, and Holly were all there when we walked in. Katelynn looked up and saw me.
I remember at my wedding, when I looked up and saw my mentor Paula had come. I remember being delighted, and unable to hide that. Katelynn's face looked like mine must have, back then.
"Lou!" She hugged me. "Thanks for coming!"
"Thanks for the invitation," I said. "That means a lot." I gave her a framed picture. "I brought this for you."
She looked it over. It was a painting of me and the two dogs---Sam and Kat. All in shades of brown. I explained,"A friend of mine did this in coffee. I thought you might like it."
"In coffee? That's so cool. I'll put it in my dresser."
"You got this whole army of teenagers, Lou," said Holly. "You know that."
"I know," I said. "It's like DUmbledore's Army."
The kids laughed. Savanah said,"Yes! I need to make that into a Tumblr."
"Guys, I want you to know something," I said. "When I graduated, there was a lot of stuff I was still learning. But I had Paula, my teacher. I could always call her if I needed some help. I want you guys to know that I'll be like that, for you. I'll be there. If you need me, I'm a phone call away."
Katelynn smiled. "I'm glad to know that. Thanks."
We all hugged.
"I'm proud of you all," I said. "You're my kids."

All Good Things: Part Five

"You ready, man?"
Joe dropped off Adam and me at the Beech Creek Library, an old church in southern Clinton County. Adam ran the place for the Ross Library; he unlocked the door and we went in.
"Oh, yeah," I said. "I'll just go over my notes."
"Thanks for coming out," he said.
"Oh sure. I'm glad to give a tour of Beech Creek for you. You know, this is a historic date. It's the first time I've ever given a walking tour outside the Lock Haven city limits."
"No kidding! And I got you first for the Summer Reading program. You're kicking off the whole thing."
"Well, that's cool, too. You know I got three tours in three days coming up? Today, tomorrow, and Friday."
Adam did some paperwork while I studied my notes. He'd asked me to do a tour of Beech Creek for his library, and I'd done some research and come up with some good stories. As the next hour went by, people came in. I wound up with about eight people going on the tour, clouds in the sky, but rain holding off.
Finally, at three-thirty, I stepped outside and faced the crowd.
"Hi, everyone," I said. "Thanks for coming today. Let's learn some history."

"I'd like to thank you all for coming tonight," I said. it was Friday night, and I had a pretty good crowd for my usual walking tour. "Tonight we're going to learn about the local railroads. Now, I will admit I'm giving a speech on Downtown Lock Haven's annual train ride tomorrow, and I'm basically sponging off that. Follow me."
I led everyone down Church Street to the railroad tracks. I stopped and talked about the old repair shop, and pointed out the old ruins by Fourth Street. I talked about the canals and how the trains had taken over, and then walked across Bellefonte Avenue and talked about the old depot that had stood there. And we walked over to Liberty Street, to the old machine storage building ruins.
"Is that a bear?" one of the people said.
We looked. It was. A black bear, running around the church and the hotel.
Hunh. Another new experience.
We watched as the bear ran around on the grass. It took off heading west along Clinton Street. I said,"Anyone have a cell,phone? Call 911."
"I got it," said Chris.
"Everyone, cluster up," I said. "Gather together. Just in case."
A moment later, we saw a cop car zip by. Everyone pointed which way the bear went. The car took off after it.
I'm glad Diane's on vacation. I have no idea how I'm going to explain this to her.
In all fairness, I can't exactly be blamed for not forseeing this.

"This is a historic moment, folks," I said. "I've never encountered a bear on a tour before."

All Good Things: Part Four

Paul was playing in the TV room and Tif was just arriving when the phone rang. I picked it up.
"Hello, Lou? This is Marshall, from the Piper Museum."
"Hi, Marshall," I said. "What can I do for you?"
"The board took our vote by mail. The votes are in. I wanted to let you know that you've been elected to the Piper Board of Directors."
I smiled.
"Thank you," I said. "I'm delighted. I'll be at the next meeting."
I hung up and set down the phone. Tif said,"How's it going, Dad?"
"It's good," I said. "I just got word from Piper. I'm on the board."
"Way to go," she said.
"Da-ee!" said Paul.

"Hi, Lou," Stacey said when I walked in the door down at Piper. "How are you doing?"
"Pretty good," I said. "Marshall called. I'm on the board."
She grinned. "I'd heard. Congratulations. You have someone waiting for you."
It turned out to be Fin, waiting in the couch area. Wearing what appeared to be a denim jacket with sparkles on it, the LHPS pin I'd given as a gift, and the word "QUEER" emblazoned on the back. I grinned and joined my new friend.
"Hey! Thanks for coming."
"Thanks for inviting me. This place is cool." Fin had already been down once, and was wearing a Piper cap from the gift shop.
"I designed the Giwoggle shirts."
"I've already ordered one, in fact," I said. "I'll tell everyone where I got it. Maybe we can start a new trend in local tourism."
"That's awesome. So you're on the board here?"
"As of today, I am. We can use volunteers. The Fly-In is coming up next week, and we need some people to help cover the place."
Fin shrugged. "Sure. Pencil me in."
"Stacey," I said,"Will you find out what hours we need? Come on, Fin, let me show you around."
We walked down the hall, and down the catwalk stairs to the hangar. We walked among the planes, with me pointing out what I knew.
"That's a Tri-Pacer. That one's an Aztec. That's a J-3 Cub, the state plane, and that one's the L-4 Grasshopper, the military version."
"I know nothing about planes," Fin said.
"I'm still learning," I admitted. "Most of it, I've picked up from hanging around here. If you like, I can teach you about document and artifact preservation, and you can help me out in the archives."
"Oh, yeah. I'd like that."
I nodded.
"We're gonna have some fun together."

All Good Things: Part Three

I was reading the Express while I drank my coffee. Paul was playing---He is simply not a breakfast kid. Duke and Gwen were sitting on the floor, hoping I would drop some food, in spite of the fact that I didn't have any. I looked at the letters to the editor on page five---I always keep up with what's happening in the community.
There was a letter from England. A man was writing about a girl he'd dated once, who had attended Lock Haven University as an exchange student in 1975.
She'd died while she was here, in the dorms. He'd always been told that the cause was heart problems, but had felt there was more to the story. He was writing to ask if anyone in the community could help him find the truth.
Actually....Yeah. Yeah, I can.
"Looks like I got a job, Paul," I said. "Much as I hate to do the British any favors, this is something I can provide."

"Hi, Lou." I looked up from my e-mail. It was Jen, from the Piper Museum. "When are you coming in again?"
"Looks like Monday. I'm making Monday a regular thing. How are you doing?"
"Doing good. I passed that test I was taking. I came in to pay my fine."
"Oh, right." I brought up her account. "Looks like four bucks."
"Here you go. What're you working on?"
"I'm sending an e-mail to England. A guy had a letter in the Express this morning, asking for information on his girlfriend, who died here in 1975. Turns out, it was an overdose of prescription antidepressants."
"How do you know that?"
"I found it in the archives. We have all the old newspapers on microfilm. Now I'm sending him an e-mail, hoping it doesn't hurt him too badly. But he deserves to know the truth."
"Wow. You're good at this."
"I've had some practice."
"You're coming to help with the Fly-In?"
"I'll be there. I'm really looking forward to it, actually."

A little later, my new friend Fin came in. Wearing a bright yellow outfit, and carrying a laptop.
"Hey! Fin! How you doing?"
"I'm good! Been a little obsessed with the Giwoggle, and I wanted to show you some designs I came up with." Fin propped open the laptop, and brought up a photo that looked like an old black and white postcard. It showed a wolf, with the hands of a bird and horse hooves for feet. Clinton County's official monster.
"That's pretty cool. Photoshopped?"
"Yeah. I got the writing from that guy, the old photographer who used to live here...."
"J.W.C. Floyd." I was impressed that Fin would go to the trouble to learn about Floyd.
"Right, Floyd! Okay. Check this out." The next one was a cartoonish drawing of the Giwoggle.
"Pretty cool!"
"I can't wait to get this on a T-shirt. Do you have any criticisms? There has to be something that needs work."
"The tail....Is that what a wofl tail looks like? Or is that more of a fox tail?"
"I'm not sure. I'll check on that."
We talked for a while. I signed Fin up for a library card, and then showed the kid around the PA Room a bit. And we talked for an hour. it cheered me up considerably.

All Good Things: Part Two

"How was your tour?" Sue asked as I got into the library.
"Pretty good," I said. "About a dozen people. There was even a college student, which is good, as my tours tend to skew old. It went pretty good." I checked my mailbox. "Just bumped into the editors of the Record downtown. I've stirred up some controversy with my latest column."
"Oh, yeah? What did you say?"
"I pointed out the Lock Haven University is building a garden when they claim to desperately need parking lots, they're wasting taxpayer money, and they don't respect the city. I also said that they have a worse sense of consequence than my toddler."
Sue laughed. "You didn't!"
"Oh, I did. We've had problems with LHU for a long time; it's time someone called them on it. It's in the Record this week, if you're interested."
Sue got the newspaper out from under the desk and read through it.
"I thought you did a pretty good job," she said. "You made a good point, and backed it up."
I nodded. "I've gotten a few calls about it. The college doesn't like it much. I'm kind of happy about that, actually---It means that all the right people are reading my work."

After work, I was walking through the grocery store when I saw a young woman with a straw hat looking over the bakery section. It took me a moment to recognize her. The college student who had attended my tour.
"Hi," I said.
She looked up, and recognized me. "Oh, hi!"
"Hope you enjoyed the tour the other night."
"Oh, I did. I really want to attend the next one."
"We'll be doing Main Street. It's going to be a good one. Got a connection to the Titanic."
"That's cool. I love all your paranormal stuff. Where were you when I was a teenager?"
"A bit younger."
She grinned. She had very short hair, and a sort of flowy white shirt. "I have to admit, I looked up some of your articles online. I saw the one about the Giwoggle."
I laughed. She'd pronounced it right. "Clinton County's official monster."
"I've become kind of obsessed with the Giwoggle. Why don't they sell Giwoggle T-shirts? I want to make my own Giwoggle T-shirt."
"You do, and I'll pay you for one," I said.
Her eyebrows raised. "Really?"
"Sure. I been pushing for that in local tourism for years."
"That's so cool. That really should be promoted around here."
I nodded at her. "What's your name?"
"Like the Star Wars character."
"Oh, yeah. I like him. He gave a good name to Fins everywhere."
"My little boy might be Finn for Halloween. His cousin Bonnie wants to be Rey, and asked if they could go together."
"Aww, that's so cute."
I smiled.
"Fin, you know how, when you're a kid, and you have a lot in common with the new kid? So you say 'Let's be friends'?"
I nodded. "Let's be friends."
She grinned.
"Well, okay," she said, and held out her hand.
We shook.

All Good Things: Part One

As the kids came in, LHPS was already set up int eh Sloan Room. I work for the Ross Library in Lock Haven, PA, and I run a group for teens there. We're Teen Paranormal, and we learn how to investigate the unexplained. I'm also a member of the Lock Haven Paranormal Seekers, a professional ghost-hunting team. Tonight, the kids were getting a visit from the adults---Theresa, Millie, Charlie, and Kara were all there when the kids came in. Emma, Holly, Mikey, Skylar, Olivia, and Brionna all grabbed their seats.
"I'd like to start by congratulating Holly," I said. "Now that she's eighteen, she's going to be promoted to LHPS as a new member. And she's invited to join us on our field trip in June, when we go to the Austin Dam ruins up in Potter County."
"Congratulations," Mikey said to Holly.
"Glad you guys could all be here," I said. "Guys, we have a couple of new kids this year, so feel free to get as basic as you want. And kids, you ask as many questions as you like. It's not school; feel free to chat."
"These EMF detectors," Mille said,"Are for measuring electricity. We use them to see if there's any electrical fields we can;t explain."
I took one of them, and held it against the light switch. It went off. I said,"Sometimes, that happens with no explanation. Then we maybe have something paranormal."
We heard someone---A small, loud, little-boy voice coming down the hall, and then my son Paull Matthew burst into the room.
"Da-ee! Da-ee!"
Theresa turned to my wife. "We can hear Lou coming from a distance, too."
"Aww," said Holly. "He's so cute!"
"Hi," Paul said to her. "Hi."
I picked Paul up and hugged him. "Hi, little guy. Did you play over in Children's?"
"Down," he said, pushing against me.
I set him down, and he immediately climbed up onto a chair and smiled at the girls. My wife asked,"You ready to go?"
"Go! Bye!" said Paul, and shot back off down the hall.
I turned back to the kids. "What we're always looking for is scientific, measurable results. I hate when the psychics come in, and pretend to know something without proof."
Theresa asked,"Have you guys gotten the psychic lesson yet?"
"Yeah," said Emma.
"Twice," said Mikey.
"Yeah, he's not very objective."
"I always say to prove it," I said. "We don't take things on faith. If I say someone died in a building, I can show you a document to prove it."
"I have a few EVPs," Theresa said. "Let me play them for you."
We spent the next few minutes playing back EVP recordings from our various investigations, and talked about the time a bat had chased me out of a stairwell. Then Theresa said,"I have a recording from an investigation in Renovo...."
Holly grinned at me. "Was that the one you....?"
"No, different one," I said. "But, Theresa, these guys are like little kids listening to their favorite bedtime story. Tell them about the crackhead in Renovo."
Theresa grinned. "We got this guy from Renovo, I think he came to Lou first...."
I nodded. "The courthouse sent him to me."
"He said he had a ghost in his house. We went up for the intake interview with him, his mother, and his teenaged daughter, who was about the most rational person in the house," Theresa said. "He claimed to have found bones in his basement, and smashed the basement wall with a hammer because his Ipod told him to. First thing, he led us down in the basement. Lou went first, and I followed him, thinking, This is how I die."
The kids laughed. Emma looked particularly amused. I said,"Out of time, guys. Next month, archaeology. Oh, and Emma---You live up around Jersey Shore, right?"
Emma nodded. "Sure. Why?"
"Got a bulletin today---Bigfoot was sighted near Pine Creek."
She grinned. "Cool."
"We're going canoeing there this weekend!" Mikey said.
I smiled.
"Take a camera."

All Good Things: Prologue

This is how it begins.
It was a pleasant, windy day as I rode my bike down to the east end of Lock Haven. I'd left my daughter watching my little boy up at the house, and headed down to do some work. I pulled my bike up and parked it in front of the Piper Aviation Museum.
I'd been volunteering for Piper for a few months now. I'd seen an article in the newspaper saying they needed new volunteers, so I'd called and signed up. I'd been coming down and doing odd jobs, learning the archives and the procedures. Just like last time I'd worked at a museum.
I took the elevator up to the second floor and found the secretary, Stacey, sitting in her office.
"Hi, Stacey," I said. "Came to see if there's anything I can do."
"Oh, hi, Lou," said Stacey. "We have some things back in the archives for you to de-accession. And you can spend some time familiarizing yourself with the files, too."
Stacey handed me the key, and I walked over to the archives. The Piper Museum is three stories of awesomeness---Airplanes, artifacts, and information dedicated to the days when the Piper Aircraft company was in Lock Haven. Planes had been made right in the building---There were some in the hangar down below. I loved going down to walk among them. The second floor was artifacts and archives. I'd once spent a whole day just running around taking photos.
I unlocked the archive room and walked in. A big, climate-controlled room with shelves and drawers. Already I'd gotten two columns out of just looking around, plus ideas for several others. And I'd been running the Piper newsletter, with one issue out already.
I sat down to work on the de-accessioning. Got up, walked around the room, and looked through some of the file drawers. My favorite so far was just a drawer of random topics---I'd discovered last week that there were concrete arrows all over America, for the purpose of pointing air mail in the right direction.
I spotted one labelled "Ghost In Photo."
Huh. What's this now?
The file contained a photo from a 1944 Piper event, showing an audience in an auditorium. On the right side was a blurry, transparent figure of a man, wearing some kind of uniform. There was another photo without him, taken apparently just before. And some correspondence from 2010, with one of the old volunteers e-mailing it to various ghost hunters and asking for opinions.
I set both photos on the table and looked them over. Okay, what's more likely? That this is a ghost, or that it's a guy who was in front of the shutter at just the right moment? Let's compare.
It took me a few minutes before I got it.

I took the photos out to the main office, where Stacey had been joined by the museum president, John. They were sitting and talking.
"This is pretty cool," I said. "I found these back there. I'd like to make a few copies."
Stacey looked over the photos. "Oh, yeah. I remember these."
"Took me a while, but I figured it out. See, this is the photo with the ghost. Now, this could be just a guy with a slow shutter speed."
John nodded. "A lot of them were slow back then."
"Now, here's one that seems to have been taken just a few minutes earlier. I had to search for it, but here---Look at this guy."
We all squinted at the photo. I said,"This guy here---He's wearing the same sort of uniform. You can see, he's in the earlier photo, but if you're looking close, he's not in the later one---The one with the ghost. See, there's these two women, and then nobody. His seat is empty."
"Oh, yeah," said Stacey. "So he got up to go onstage, or go to the bathroom, or something...."
"And that's when they clicked the photo," I said. "Yeah. Not a ghost, just this specific guy. I think I'd like to make a copy of these, and maybe put it in the Express."
"Lou, I've wanted to talk to you," said John. "Would you like to be on our board?"
I paused.
"What? Sure. Yes."
"We need new members. A lot of our people are getting too old, and we need some newer, younger people. I'd like to nominate you."
"I'd be honored," I said.
Stacey nodded. "I'll e-mail you the details for the next meeting."

Weather Or Not

"No, mom, you have to dial," my wife said. "Push the thing---No, the---Yes. There."
Teen Paranormal meeting. Working on strange weather patterns. I had the kids in---Alyssa, Olivia, Emma, and Skylar sat around the table. And my wife was there, with little Paul, setting up her laptop for a Skype interview. In a moment, her mother appeared on the screen, projected on the wall.
"There we go," I said. "Guys, along with site visits and taking samples, the witness interview is the best thing you can do when some weird weather happens, like ball lightning or rivers turning red. Witnesses can tell you about the weird weather; chances are you weren't there to see it. Now, Michelle and her mom both saw it rain frogs in Georgia when my wife was a kid. So, we're going to interview them about it."
Paul, walking across the room with my wife's cell phone, said,"No weh! Bye! No weh! Bye!"
"That's right, it rained frogs," Michelle's mom said. "Thousands of them, all sizes, just falling down on the car."
"We were going to pick up my brother," said Michelle. "Around Brunswick, Georgia. And the frogs all of a sudden fell out of the sky. It was dark out; we saw them in the dark."
"What time of year was it?" I asked.
"Summertime," said Michelle's mother.
"So this would have been fairly late," I said. I was trying to sort of jump-start the kids; they can feel awkward during interviews at first. "In the summer, it doesn't get dark until after nine."
"How long did it last?" asked Emma.
"Bout ten minutes," said Michelle's mother.
"Nana!" said Paul.
"Were there any tadpoles?" Livvie asked. "Or just frogs?"
"Good one," I said.
"Just frogs," said Michelle's mother. "No tadpoles."
"What kind of area was it?" asked Emma. I'd known Skylar and Alyssa wouldn't be asking much; they were both fairly quiet.
"It was real swampy," said Michelle's mother.
"There were trees, though," said Michelle. "I remember trees."
"Yeah, they were far back from the road."
"I remember this different," said Michelle. "I thought the trees were closer."
"Could the frogs have been in the trees?" Livvie asked. "I read where they sometimes go up trees to lay eggs...."
"Could have been," said Michelle.
"That's a possibility," I agreed.
"What was the weather like?" asked Emma. "Before the frogs?"
"Rainy," said Michelle's mother.
"Not at first," said Michelle. "It was fine, and clear. And then it started to rain."
"Yeah, then it rained real hard."
"So...." Emma thought it through. "The rain could have knocked the frogs down...."
"Could have," I said. "Anyone have any other questions for our witnesses?"
"Okay, thanks," I said. Michelle shut off the computer. I hugged Paul. "Be home in an hour, little guy. Daddy loves you."

After my wife had left with Paul, I sat down with the kids.
"So, what did we think?"
Livvie frowned. "They didn't always remember it right."
"And that's typical," I said. "We're going back about thirty years here, so it's normal that they'd have discrepancies. You get those all the time with witnesses."
"I'd have thought your wife's mom would remember better, because she was older at the time," said Livvie. "But...."
I smiled. "Yeah. You can be honest. We know she's sort of flaky."
Emma laughed. "So it's hard to tell, about the frogs."
"True," I said. "But it's a good experience for you guys. Most witness interviews are like that. I've dealt with a few that have no credibility. Some are very reliable, but others are way out where the buses don't run." I looked around the table at the kids. "You guys have fun tonight? Learn anything?"
Heads nodded.
"Good. Next time, a visit from LHPS. See you guys then."

On my way home, I saw Alyssa and her mom sitting out in front of their place. I stopped to talk.
"Hey, kiddo," I said to Alyssa. "You have fun tonight?"
She grinned. "Oh, yeah. I was just telling my mom all about it."

Crop Circles

"I wanted to do the lesson on weird weather tonight, but my wife was out of town," I said. "So we can't interview her. I'll bring her back next month. Tonight, though, we'll do crop circles."
I looked around the room at Mikey, Alyssa, Emma, Skylar, Jayden, and Holly. Holly said,"Yes! I've wanted to learn crop circles."
"As you guys all know, crop circles are flattened patterns in a field," I said. "Now, when I mentioned to Mikey earlier that we were doing crop circles, he asked if those aren't basically hoaxes done by people. And the answer is, yeah, more or less. Two guys from England confessed to doing a lot of the early ones. But, as I mentioned last time we talked about hoazes, just because some are a hoax doesn't mean they all are. You find a fake photo of a human, it doesn't prove there's no such thing as human beings."
Holly squinted at the handout I'd given them. "Is this the Firefox symbol?"
"Yep, it is. Some sompanies have begun making crop circles as advertising. You can find that one on Google Maps."
Immediately, Holly pulled out her phone to check. Mikey asked,"So how are crop circles made?"
"I wanted to take you guys out and make one with chalk, but it's raining. What they do is to have at least two people. You need a board and some rope. One person stands at the center, and holds the end of the rope. The other end is tied to the board, and then you stretch it out. If the person in the middle holds on, the other person can shove the board around with their foot, and crunch down the corn. As long as the rope stays tight, it'll make a circle. And you can also use a GPS or a laser measure---I brought mine. Pass it around and see how you can measure."
"Mikey," said Holly. "That field that my cousin owns. We could---"
"Yeah!" said Mikey. "Let's ask if we can make a crop circle!"
"Please get permission on that," I said. "Do not trespass."
"So to investigate," said Emma.
I nodded. "To investigate, you start the way you usually do, by interviewing witnesses. Go to the site, and make observations---Time, weather, wind....you never know what might turn out to be important, so write down everything. Check EMFs, too, and radiation. And that brings me to this---This is why we have the microwave in the room tonight."
"I wondered about that," admitted Alyssa.
I stood up---I had a small table with the library's microwave standing by one wall. I said,"I've brought along one of my radiation detectors. What you do is to move this thing around the area in a smooth motion---Like when we test EMFs. If you see the needle wobble a little, that's okay. If you see it go up to red and stay there, it's a problem. Also, get a new microwave. Can I have a volunteer? Who wants to try this?"
"I will," said Jayden, and came over.
I had my mug that said BIGFOOT SAW ME BUT NOBODY BELIEVES HIM. I filled it with water and microwaved it for one minute. I said,"Go ahead, move it around a little---Yeah, along the seam of the door."
"I saw the needle jump," said Jayden. "But it's back to green."
"That's okay; that's normal. I mean, it'd be cool to get a reading, but it would kill us all. So I'm glad you're not."
Holly brightened. "Is that why microwaves have those gaskets on the doors?"
"It is." I love it when the kids learn stuff. "Also why, if you look, there's kind of a metal mesh in the door."
The microwave beeped. Jayden sat down. I said,"Just about out of time, guys, but take home the handout and take a look."
"Is it a hoax if we make a crop circle?" Holly asked.
"Not if you take credit for it," I said. "if you tell people you made it, it's not a hoax. It's just art."

The kids filed out the front door. I locked the door and went up to the main desk.
"How did it go?" asked Zach.
"Pretty good," I said. "You want some hot water?"

Psychic Abilities

"So this part of the building is the oldest," I was saying. I was in the Sloan Room with Olivia, Alyssa, Jayden, and Skylar. "It was built in 1887, as the mayor's mansion."
"I didn't know there were all these hallways up here," Olivia said.
"Oh, yeah, all sorts of cool rooms and stuff. They had...Emma! Hi! Glad you made it!"
The new girl came in and sat down. "Had a little trouble finding the Sloan Room. Finally I just asked at the desk."
"Glad you're here," I said. "Tonight we're learning about psychic abilities. Most of the people who claim to have them are frauds---About ten percent, in my experience, actually have some sort of ability. And some of them actually do some damage---There was a TV show about three years ago that caused a divorce, and made a mentally ill woman much worse."
Jayden laughed. "I remember you telling us about that when it happened."
"Oh, I was mad," I said. "Now, a lot of this is done with a technique called cold reading. Emma. You and I just met, right? I don't really know you?"
She grinned. "Right."
"Okay. I'm sensing....Someone. Someone in your life. An older woman."
"Well, my mom."
"Right. And she's known someone who died, right? There's someone she cared about who died."
"Yeah. My grandmother." Emma was looking somewhat impressed.
"Don't look so pleased, kiddo. I conned you. Cold reading involves making vague statements and letting the other person fill in the specifics. You're what, thirteen? It's pretty likely there would be an older woman in your life, and also a dead person. Happens to all of us."
"So how do we investigate this?" Alyssa asked.
"I brought the cards," I said. "They're called Zener Cards; you can see the patterns on your handout. There's twenty-five of them, with five symbols. Anyone just guessing can get about twenty percent by sheer luck. If you get significantly over that---Say, forty percent---Then you may have someone who shows an ability. But make sure they're not seeing reflections, or anything, of the cards."
The kids all nodded. I held up a card. "Alyssa. Take a guess."
The kid grinned and blushed. I said,"There's no real right answer here. It's all cool. Just guess any shape."
"Circle," she said.
I looked at the card. "Square. Emma?"
"Um, cross."
"No, a star. Skylar?"
"Bacon," he guessed.
Everyone laughed. I said,"We call these little squiggly lines the bacon...They do actually look like bacon. But this one's a circle."
We went around the table twice, and tested the kids. The first time I'd done this, I'd printed up the cards without any expectation that we'd use them. The kids had requested it. I don't know why I hadn't seen that coming.
The only one to get one right was Skylar, on the second round. I put the cards away.
"Okay, guys. Skylar got the one. That makes ten percent, with five of you here. It's low. What that means is that nobody in this room is psychic....But we knew that."


In 2003, my wife and I drove out to Mackeyville. We stopped in a house that was advertising free puppies. The guy opened a cage, and a whole horde of puppies came running out. They all dashed around the room, running around like crazy. Except for one little black one, who sat down and looked up at me with her big eyes. I picked her up, and held her.
She was the one who came home with me.
We named her Kat.

I was sitting downstairs and watching TV when I heard her---Kat came down the stairs. She was having some trouble moving; she's thirteen years old. She came into the room and lay down on the floor, breathing heavily.
I knelt beside her.
"Hey. baby, you okay?" I petted her. "You look like you're not feeling so good. You feeling sick?" She looked up at me. "You're a good dog. You've always been a good dog."
After half an hour, she stood up and climbed onto the chair. She curled up and went to sleep.
I thought she was getting better.

The next morning, she wasn't there when I got up. I went downstairs, where my wife was in the kitchen with the toddler.
"Where's Kat?"
"I haven't seen her," she said.
I found her down in the basement, at the foot of the stairs. Curled up and still. The second I touched her, I knew I'd never find a pulse. She was gone.
I'm sorry, Kat. You deserved better.
When I went back upstairs, Michelle could see it when she looked at me. I said,'She's gone. Call the vet so she can be cremated."
"I'm so sorry," said Michelle.
"I'll find a box to put her in."
I got a cardboard box and went downstairs. Gwen padded along with me. Kat was lying peacefully.
I'm so sorry, Kat. You were a good dog. You've always been such a good dog to me. You've been my best friend.
I'm going to miss you so much.

We pulled around to the back of the vet's office. I got out, and got the box out of the trunk. Michelle asked,"Do you want us to come in?"
"No. I got this."
I carried her to the door, and walked in. I set the box on the table inside. I couldn't stop crying. A moment later, the vet tech arrived.
"I'm very sorry," she said. "We treated Kat since she was a puppy. I'm so sorry."
"Thank you."
"What do you want on the card?"
"Just the name is fine," I said, "Kat with a K."
She nodded.
"When you're ready," she said gently.
I'll never be ready.
I put my hand in the box, and stroked her perfect black fur for the last time.
"Bye, baby."

A week later, we drove out to the vet's place, and picked up her ashes. I was crying when I came back out to the car.
I brought them home in a small wooden box, with a little gold plaque on the front.
I walked upstairs, to my office, crying. I sat down in a chair, holding the box. After a while, I set it on top of my shelf.
"I'm sorry, baby. I miss you."

Don't Look Back: Epilogue

After school the next day, Katelynn and Holly came in. They came back to my desk, and I got out the book and handed it to them.
"Take a look," I said. "You guys helped find this."
Holly began paging through it, looking at the poems. She said,"I like how she named all of these...."
"Yeah, and in some cases, listed where they were written. I checked, and some of these were haunted places."
"Does the client know yet?" asked Katelynn.
I shook my head. "I'm going to give her a call. She told me once that she didn't even want to see the book; she just wanted it found and destroyed. So I'm going to call her, and tell her we found it, and tell her I'll destroy it if she wants."
"But you're not going to destroy it," said Katelynn. It wasn't a question.
I grinned. "Oh, figured that out, did you? No, I'm not. It's an artifact, and an amazing piece of work. I'll keep it at my place, in a secure location. Same place I'm keeping the Lost Chord and the Holy Grail, actually."
"Wow," said Katelynn. "I can't believe we found it."
"This sort of thing is out there," I said. "Don't let anyone tell you this place is boring. There's adventure everywhere."

Don't Look Back: Part Four

I was working the desk when Zach walked in, carrying a handful of Mardi gras beads that he was using to decorate the place.
"Hey!" I said. "Mardi Gras beads!" And I lifted my sweatshirt up to show my Jersey Devil Hunter T-shirt.
Zach looked at me a moment. Then he shrugged, and threw the beads at my head.
Sue shook her head. "You two. Has anyone seen Diane?"
"She's in her office, working on reports," I said. "Later today she comes out, and if she ses her shadow, we get six more weeks of budget bullshit."
I pulled out the survey forms on the Pennwoven plant, looking over the layouts. Aside from changing its function---Now a market and storage place, instead of a wire factory---It looked remarkably the same. The layout was largely similar to what it had been a century ago.
Which should make it fairly easy to search.
The Anti-Lou came out of the Pennsylvania Room. He's been hanging around lately. The Anti-Lou is a local guy who thinks he's a historian. He wants to discuss local history all the time, but he's terrible at it. He's not smart, good at research, good at writing, clever, or good-looking, making him pretty much the opposite of me. On the other hand, he can probably drive.
"Sorry I haven't been too talkative lately," said the Anti-Lou, who had never quite caught on to the fact that I don't like him.
"Oh, that's okay."
"My house burned down, and....What're you working on?" He looked at the map.
"Nothing important," I said. The last thing I wanted was him screwing this thing up somehow. I closed the book.
"Castanea, huh? You know that was named because of cherry trees?"
No, it wasn't. It was chestnuts. "Hmm."

After work, I biked over to the Castanea Township line and stopped at the old Pennwoven plant.
The buildings still stood, mostly. I walked around them with a flashlight, checking them out. Nothing I saw looked like a hiding spot, an out-of-place or unused attachment that might last thirty years. Nothing jumped out at me as a possible hiding place.
They needed it to last. They couldn't tell which buildings might be torn down, or what additions might be made. They'd need it hidden, reachable, and as close to permanent as they could get.
The trees....

There was a heavy grove of trees behind the buildings. They didn't look like they'd been touched, or were likely to be. I waded in, shining my flashlight around on the trees.
There's a ton of trees here,,,,,Which....
The biggest. The very old ones.

There were several old trees, huge growing things throughout the grove. I walked through, checking them over.
On the third one, I found it.
The tree had a huge hole, somewhat covered with bark, between the lowest branches. Hollow. Not easily spotted from any other angle.
I poked a stick in, and felt something wobble inside. I reached in with my hand---I always hated this part of geocaching; always felt like something was about to bite me. I felt something smooth, not something that belonged in a tree.
I pulled it out. A flat, taped piece of wrapped plastic. I cut it open and looked at what it was wrapped around.
It was a book.
Leather-bound, old. Gold letters and designs on the cover.One word: POESIE.
I took a photo of it, sitting in the tree. Then I picked it up and paged through. All poetry, scribbled in a messy hand. A few of them were dated, back in the forties, and some had the location they'd been written scribbled on it. I picked up the book.
Got you.
I slid it in my pack.

Later, I sent the photo the Katelynn and Holly on my computer. A few minutes later, the messages came back.
Katelynn: OMG IS THAT IT
Holly: That is so cool though! You found it!
I smiled. Holly asked if they'd be allowed to look at the book, and I told her they could.
Mission accomplished.

Don't Look Back: Part Three

Katelynn, Holly, and TJ came in while I was working on an article about the oldest woman in Renovo. I smiled and stood up. I'd been making no progress anyway.
"Hi, guys! How's things going?"
"Good," said Katelynn. "I got you a present."
She handed me a ring, a small mood ring with an alien on it. "If it doesn't fit," she said,"Give it to Paul when he's old enough."
"Nope, fits okay." I slid it on my finger. "Love it. Thanks. I can use a few obits, if you don't mind." Katelynn has gotten as good as Taylor and me when it comes to looking people up.
"I don't mind. Give me the names."
I handed her a post-it where I'd scribbled down both names, the grandmother and the aunt. "See if you can find these two."
She and Holly went to the microfilm. A few minutes later, she had them dug out. She handed me the obits, and I looked them over.
"Huh. This helps, actually."
"What're we looking up here?" Holly asked.
I sat down. A lot of this stuff sounds insane, but I can trust the kids with this. They're used to it. "Okay. While ago, I was contacted by a woman who says she's seening UFOs and ghosts. She thinks her grandmother and great-aunt were into witchcraft, and had a spellbook that they hid. She blames that for all the sightings."
"Is it true?" asked Katelynn.
"I'm actually still not sure. I am thinking, though, that she's really having experiences. We tend to think of people either seeing the paranormal, or being insane. But it could be both. I'm beginning to think she may be schizophrenic, and experiencing the paranormal. One doesn't necessarily rule out the other."
Katelynn nodded.
"And," I said,"True or not so much, if I can find the book, it may make her feel better."
"So her grandmother and great-aunt," Holly said. "Are these....?'
I nodded. "Yes. And this may have helped. Let's say you wanted to hide a book. Something important, maybe to be found after you were dead. You wouldn't hide it in your own place, because you don't know what's going to happen to it, who's going to be there in the future. Right?" They both nodded. "It would have to be someplace you'd have access too, someplace fairly public and easy to get to."
"Okay, right," said Katelynn.
"Now, from their obits, I notice they both worked at Pennwoven Wire."
"Where's that?" asked Holly.
"Over on the Castanea line, where the storage place is now. They were a wire company that actually had a hand in building the nuclear bombs used in World War Two."
"Didn't you write about that?"
"Yeah, last September. Now, I wonder if, somewhere over at Pennwoven, these two stashed the book."
"This is like National Treasure," said Katelynn.
"Let's take a look at the Sanborn map," I said.
I got the map out from the PA Room closet, and flipped it open to Plate 24. I pointed. "Look, there's the buildings at Pennwoven back in 1914. Most of them are still there. There's the office. There's some forest land behind it."
"I don't think they'd have put it in the drying stacks," Holly said.
"No, I think you're right. It's probably somewhere outside the main building."
"You gonna find it?" Katelynn asked.
I nodded.
"I gotta get out to Pennwoven."

Don't Look Back: Part Two

An hour before the meeting, little Alyssa sent me a note saying that she was sick and couldn't make it. She loved being in the group, she said, and wanted to grow up to be like me.
I smiled. That meant a lot.
Brickley, our new tech person, met me in the Sloan Room and helped me set up the laptop and projector. By "helped me set up," I mean "figured it out herself." I got online, and in a minute, we had the Loch Ness web cam displayed on the wall of the Sloan Room.
"That should do it," she said.
"Thanks, pal," I said. "You're welcome to stick around for the meeting, if you like."
"I think I will," she said. "I enjoyed the last one. And I don't have anything else to do."
By seven, the kids had come in. It always varies. Tonight, we had Katelynn and TJ, Holly, and Skylar. I said,"Might as well get started. Tonight, we're doing water creatures. On your handout here, you can see some of the things that get mistaken for water monsters---Sturgeon, oarfish, logs and debris, coelacanths. The coelacanth is a fish thatw as thought to be extinct until some fishermen found one in 1938. So, is it possible dinosaurs still exist? Not likely, but possible."
TJ raised his hand. "Didn't you say there was a Viking ship found in Loch Ness?"
"Yes, and I'm glad you brought that up. A few years ago, they found a Viking ship sunk to the bottom of the Loch. Which may explain some of the underwater photos they've taken, when you think of the dragons carved into the bow. Also, there was a Sherlock Holmes movie filmed in the Loch once, and the propr monster sunk to the bottom. It's possible that's caused some sightings, too."
"Didn't you investigate a monster that turned out to be sturgeons once?" Katelynn asked.
"I did, down in Georgia years ago," I said. "That and an old Indian legend. Now, on the screen I have the Loch Ness web cam. It's dark now, but if you catch this in the morning, you can look at Loch Ness and watch fot the monster. If it were light out, you'd see more like...." I clicked on a link and brought up the photo. "Like this. Without Godzilla, which someone photoshopped in."
The kids all laughed. I went back to the cam.
"So I encourage you to check this out. Maybe this summer we can get out and do the real thing in the Susquehanna. There was a monster seen out there in the 1890s."
"That'd be cool," said Holly.
"Didn't you once say to bait monsters with something they can't always get?" Katelynn asked.
"That's right," I said. "If you bait a water monster with fish, they have no real reason to take your bait. You want to try something like, say, chicken, which they can't get on their own." I brought up another link with the webcam. "This is from an underwater microphone, supposedly, sunk in Loch Ness. Could be the monster....Take a listen."
Ten seconds of sound played, the rushing water with a loud grunting, snorting sound.
Katelynn frowned. "That's really weird."
"It is. A few years ago, I remember joking that it could be the Loch Ness pug. Ryan actually made me a photo of that and e-mailed it to me." I looked at my watch. "See you guys next time. We'll do psychic abilities."
"That's always fun," said Katelynn.

On my way home, I stopped by Alyssa's house---The kid lived in my neighborhood. I dropped her handout and her birthday card into her mailbox before heading home.

Don't Look Back: Part One

I showed up to help with the spaghetti dinner after work. Fundraiser for the library. I ran around serving dinners all night, bringing food and drinks.
January 13, 2016.
It's been thirty years. Thirty years ago tonight I was sitting on my floor, trying to commit suicide.
And it led to a great adventure.

"Lou, your wife and little boy are here and eating," Diane said. "Don't you want to go and eat with them?"
"I barely eat with them when we're at home," I said.
Diane laughed. "You're awful."
"Yeah, I'm seriously considering professional help."
I checked my cell phone, in my pack. I'd missed a phone call.
"Hello, Lou? I saw some of your articles online, and I thought you might understand about a problem I'm having. It's....Sort of unusual. Paranormal, I guess. Would you be willing to meet with me to discuss it? Call me back."
Well. My night just got more interesting.
I walked over to my wife and little Paul.
"Dayee!" said Paul. "Hi!"
"Hi, little guy," I said. I gave him a kiss on the head. "Michelle, I'm gonna be a little late getting home tonight."

I met the girl for coffee after the dinner. Pretty girl. Half my age. Nervous-looking.
"Lou? I'm the one who called."
"Hi. Can I get you a coffee or something?"
"Oh, I'll buy my own. I've read some of your stuff....You seem really understanding, and I wanted to ask if you could help with some problems I've been having."
"Paranormal problems."
"I do work on those, sure."
She walked to the counter and got her drink, then came and sat back down across from me.
"I've been....Having encounters with the paranormal. Ghosts in my house. I see UFOs when I go out at night for a walk. It's like they're attracted to me, like I'm some sort of magnet for it."
"Have you gotten any kind of evidence? Something provable?"
"The UFos. I carry my cell phone."
She held up her phone, and played a video of multi-colored lights, hovering in the night. Flicking around the way planes don't. I studied it for a moment.
"You sure this wasn't, I don't know, a drone or something?" Not that I thought a drone would behave that way. But you have to check.
"I don't think so."
"Where was this?"
"On the dike. Down by Piper."
"Piper's a no-drone zone. They protect the planes that way. They have a signal that jams drone signals---Drops them from the sky."
"So it can't be a drone."
"Not in that location, no." I thought it over. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Welll.....My grandmother...." She bit her lower lip.
"I'm listening."
"My grandmother and her sister always said they practiced withcraft. Bad witchcraft. I've always thought they might have put some sort of evil energy on our family, and it attracts this stuff to us. My uncle always said there was a spellbook that they hid somewhere, and it had all their magic in it."
"You think, if I could find the book...."
"I don't know. I know I'm scared to look. Nobody in my family will talk about it much."
"If I could find it, do you want it?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I don't even want to see it. I just think it should be found and destroyed. That will help with the ghosts and UFOs."
I nodded.
"Write down their names for me," I said. "I'll see what I can do."

Don't Look Back: Prologue

I stood in my old bedroom, looking around. it was the day after Christmas, and we'd gone to stay over at my dad's. The farm I'd grew up on.
It had been a long time since I'd moved from Slatington. I'd lived in Lock Haven for a long time, over half my life. But this....This room...it was where I'd gotten my start.
Right there....On that floor....That's where I sat down to kill myself. The anniversary of that is coming up....It was January 13, 1986. Thirty years ago.
And instead of dying, I walked downm the road on a warm January night. And I helped an abused girl. And it was what started me off as an adevnturer.
It's been almost thirty years.

I looked, silently, at the place where I'd grown up. Then, slowly, I turned and left the room.

"Hey, Zach? Remember last month when you asked me about Allison Township? That led to a pretty good column. it ran over the weekend; you should check it out."
Zach grinned as we walked in the back room at the library. I work for the Ross Library in Lock Haven, and have for almost four years. I do local history, adult programs, and ghost hunting.
It's not your typical library.
"So how did you get started in local history, anyway?" Zach asked. "I know you've done it for a long time, but...."
"Almost ten years now. I was a drugstore cashier ten years ago, but I was interested in local legends. I was looking into the Tiadaghton Declaration of Independence, and I stopped by the museum to do some research. The director liked me, and when the old curator left because of a curse, they hired me."
Zach nodded. "And now you're with us."
"And I write for the Express, and the Record. And I'm volunteering at Piper, too. And the Lock Haven Paranormal Seekers."
"I always wondered how you got started," he said.
I nodded. "I get that a lot."

A Jersey Devil Christmas

"Let's play with Baby Paul!"
Christmas day. Staying at my sister's place in New Jersey, with her three little girls. Bonnie, Azarin, and Piper love their cousin, Paul Matthew; they basically can't get enoguh of him. They were having fun playing and winding him up.
"What's that on your shirt?" Bonnie looked at my dark blue T-shirt.
"Oh. That's the Mothman. He flies around a town in West Virginia."
Bonnie squinted at it. "He's not scary."
"Well, good. He's actually a pretty nice guy."
"Can we go out and look for the Jersey Devil?" Azarin asked. "Last time you were here, you said you would."
"Sure, if it's okay with your mom. Get your shoes on."

With Bonnie and Azarin trailing along, I walked out into the forest area behind their house. We were going east. I'd looked at it online earlier from above, and it was a large, triangle-shaped area with the large part of the triange to the north. We moved a few yards into the trees.
"Does the Jersey Devil live here?" Azarin asked.
"The Jersey Devil lives everywhere in New Jersey, apparently," I said. "It's possible, I guess. Plenty of things do live here, birds and mammals."
"What if we get lost" Bonnie asked.
"Bonnie, don't worry. I can still see the house from here."
We kept walking. I found a fallen stick that had been stepped on, probably by a deer. I showed Bonnie and Azarin.
"That's cool," said Azarin, mildly the more adventurous of the two.
"I can shwo you how to track later, if you like," I said. "Teach you about how to follow animals in the woods."
We walked south for a while, into the narrower space of the triangle. At one point, a crow cawed nearby us, and took off, flying away.
"What was that?" said Bonnie, alarmed.
"That was a crow," I said. "Don't worry; they're harmless."
"But it could ahev been the Jersey Devil!" said Azarin. "Do they make that noise?"
"Well, nobody knows."
"So maybe we found it!"
"Well, maybe." I smiled. It was atrting to rain.
"Can we go back inside now?" asked Bonnie. "You said you'd teach us how to make pickles."