The following events may or may not be completely veracious.
Today’s adventure required that I look up local ghost stories and investigate. Given that I live in an old town, I shouldn’t be able to leave the driveway without running over at least one white lady in a haunted pirate ship. New Bern is over 300 years old, the site of at least one battle (Civil War), and the birthplace of Pepsi.
I don’t really know what Pepsi has to do with anything, but the guy who invented it lives in a creepy old graveyard and surely rises from his coffin each night to leave hooks on the cars of unwary coke drinkers.
Knowing all this, I thought I should be prepared. I’ve seen Supernatural; I knew I’d need salt in order to repel the many gray-faced specters that tried to keep me from learning the Truth. Of course I also knew my mother would probably notice if I took one of her nice Sea Salt grinders and she no longer keeps the Morton’s in the house so I had to settle for some packets of Splenda.
Thus armed I drove to the local library. I headed to the card catalog. I couldn’t find the card catalog. Then I remembered that the 90s happened and headed for the computer that now contains all the information that used to be in the card catalog. I searched for a book. I found a book. It was located in the special reading room in which they keep special historical records.
Where they keep Pirate records, you ask? Ancient wills and dark secrets tucked into letters between nefarious characters? Treasure maps and transcripts of important meetings? Do they have a first hand account of the duel between John Stanly and Richard Dobbs Spaight, perhaps with a tracing of the bullets and a snip of Stanly’s coat?
No. No to all of these things. They have lots of genealogical records though, in case you’re dying to find out whether you’re the fourth or third great granddaughter of John Asalo Kingsbury.
The ancient, dark tome of secret ghostlore was equally unimpressive. It contained a dozen stories about old women or young children who may have died in some old houses. Most of them were summaries of local color pieces written in the New Bern Sun Journal in the 80s.
Where were my spates of mysterious killings? Strange noises only heard on certain nights of the year? Where were my obvious cover ups by local police?
I headed for the microfiche! Surely if I painstakingly pored through the obituaries in the 1897 issues of the North Carolina Gazette I would find the mysterious mystery of grand conspiratorial aspirations. Then would come a hand on my shoulder, a whispered voice that warned me to walk away before it was too late. A door would slam and I would find myself suddenly alone in a darkened room.
Or maybe I would be too chicken to ask the guy how to work said microfiche machine, realize that even if I did know how to work it the newspapers would probably be filled with crop reports and wedding announcements. If I were lucky I might be able to find someone ranting about how Ulysses S Grant should be forced to produce his birth certificate but unless they also accused President Grant of being an evil, blood sucking vampire (and how he was the REAL mastermind of Lincoln’s assassination), I wasn’t interested.
If I wanted a ghost story, clearly I was going to have to do some primary research.
When the graveyard proved unsuccessful, I suddenly and conveniently remembered that my childhood friend Marian Ballenger had lived across the street from the creepiest of creepy places.
The masonic temple.
For years all I had to do to scare Marian was reference the eye. The eye is watching you. The eye knows when you are sleeping. The eye possesses an optical system in which rays that propagate in two perpendicular planes have different foci.
You know, the usual childhood taunts.
But even the masonic temple disappointed me today:
Not shown is the poster on their front door: an advertisement for the musical production “13”, a “[w]onderful, slightly rated PG-13, musical of the trials and tribulations of becoming 13. Whether you are a teen or a grandparent you will enjoy this high-energy musical.” Show starts on Friday night. Tickets are $15 at the door.
No ghosts, no cemetery vampire attacks, no alien lizards. My lists have not been going well for me.
What if the Masonic Temple knew that I had planned this adventure for today. What if they scourged the library before I arrived, placed that oh so convenient ‘Out of Order’ sign on the second microfiche reader (thus reducing my odds of finding a working microfiche reader and increasing my nervousness about asking to use the other one). What if they told Vampire Grant to go sparkle at someone else’s tombstone and went back in time to tell the Rivertowne Repertory Players, whose USUAL haunt is the Shriner’s Auditorium that they needed to play at the Masonic Theatre instead because they knew my weakness for local musical productions.
Well played, archeological-goldmine hording alien masons. Well played.