Friday, January 15, 2010

Hunting the Devil

Like any child growing up in South Jersey (yes, for you non-Jersians, there are two states within the world of Jersey; North and South, distinguished by their culture, sports affiliations, and accents) summers meant trips to the shore. Trips to the shore meant car rides through the desolate region known as the Pine Barrens and stories about the Jersey Devil roaming that endless expanse of nothingness located in the most densely populated state in the union. 

The Jersey Devil is a creature of legend that has been seen for hundreds of years savaging the area; snatching dogs, livestock, and in some wilder reports, children. It is the reason that as child, I was told nobody ever walks into the Pine Barrens and comes out again. 

It wasn't until I was nearly thirty that I pulled over and walked into one of the many sandy paths that lead into that strange place. I'm a big believer in woods having a certain spirit. I've been in evil woods and I currently live in woods where good spirits reside. I'm a bit of an expert at sensing these things, so I tell you with great honestly that there was some bad ju-ju in those barrens. I stayed barely long enough for the wife to flash a few photos and then nervously tried to find the car again.

Flash forward a few years and that same photo of me has been published in a book about....the Jersey Devil. When my wife told me this news, I was very excited. Probably as excited at when hearing one of the books I've written is going to be published. I know, it sounds kind of sad, but you'd have to understand that I've taken it upon myself to educate people about the Jersey Devil for years...spreading the legend up north into New York where few have ever heard of it. Finally, my missionary work would be legitimized. 

For my birthday, I finally got a copy of the book. It was even better than I expected. The caption reads "A man participates in a hunt for the Jersey Devil"....brilliant. Especially considering I was actually scared out of my wits, looking over my shoulder, and begging my wife (who didn't grow up petrified of this creature) if we could leave yet. My hunt didn't last longer than fifteen minutes or go farther than 100 yards. Yes indeed, I am the great hunter. 

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