One moonlit night along a dimly lit bridge in Clinton Corners I pulled off for a while to enjoy the faint gusts of midnight’s winds. The water beneath flowed quietly southeast at about 2 knots. I could hear it gently splashing against the rocks and river walls along the shoreline. The elements were as pleasant as the mirrored reflection of the moon’s dim glow staring up at me through the wavy waters.
It had been a day full of stress and exhaustion. The temperature had reached a sweltering 91 degrees with little relief between the wind and shadows. I’d been out on the hunt for some old records to solidify the claims of an eyewitness to a paranormal event but wound up sidetracked with the natural beauty of the area. Without conscious notice of the time, I proceeded to take several digital photographs of the forest and nearby landmarks until the batteries were completely exhausted.
The hike that I embraced while taking said photos walked me down a road less traveled. The overgrowth of bushes and grasses blanketed the sharp stone trail that took me around the backside of the forest which led to a small opening where there exists a natural pond. From there, I was led to a larger trail that was better kept that carried me across a medium sized hill and to the opening of a slightly hidden cave. The heat however was enough to kill the adventurer within and from that point I had slowly made my way back towards the parking lot where I’d left my car.
The thought of a bag of Combos complete with a cold Pepsi that I had buried in an ice filled cooler was almost as exciting as the realization of how fast the air conditioning inside of my minivan works when turned on.
The sight of the deep red paint in the distance was like a big pair of arms welcoming me home after a long day of work. Though I had enjoyed my travels, there is nothing that bothers me more than being saturated in thick perspiration—your hair is about as attractive as soaked straw while your shirt is glued to your person—the discomfort renders a putrid odor that makes you cringe as a scent of it passes your nose.
Back to the nearby town I headed to freshen up and catch a regular dinner that consisted of a cheeseburger equipped with a topping of bacon and freshly cut tomato complete with a side of restaurant style fries.
Finally, the day would settle into the late evening as the moon crept out from beyond the clouds. Though my journeys had taken me to various locations, I had the momentum to get back into the minivan and continue long into the night. I would use the time driving to think at length about the incredible claims that were made of the area. There were various accounts of first hand encounters with a demonic presence that several people had spotted. It was a suggestion I had brushed past on the internet, and something I had found hard to believe.
My fascination however stemmed from the fictional accounts that went into Hollywood’s vision of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ which was a film based on the legend of the headless horseman. My original goal was to obtain public records from the period of the beheading and to perhaps hear a few stories as told by the natives.
My mind attacked every angle of what if and went completely after the belief that all current reports of ghostly sightings within the area were fictitious and nothing more.
At about midnight, I had reached the bridge in Clinton Corners. After I had taken in the view, I pulled a lawn chair out of the back of the minivan and sat facing the southern end of the river running beneath. Outside of the natural audible noises emanating from the running water, I could hear a distant cricket chirp-chirping and occasional owl who-whoing.
As I stretched my sight o’er the slow flowing river I noticed a moving shadow in the distance. At first glance, I assumed the anomaly as a deer or some other such entity while powering up my Kindle. I flipped through the various eBooks for a moment and thought about what would sit comfortable with this moment of contentment when a large splash from below the bridge caught my attention.
I thought again of the shadow and how I figured it as a deer and maintained the noise to be a result of just that. I had finally decided to give my mind a well-deserved rest and tried to pull up the Real Racing 3 app on the Kindle but as I tried to reawaken the screen, I discovered the battery was completely exhausted.
In frustration, I walked over to the van and threw the Kindle on the passenger seat and when I stepped back a moment later, another noise caught my ears.
This time, it resembled a ditty being played on a fiddle. Just as soon as I noticed the noise, it had disappeared about as fast as it appeared. Like the belief with the deer, I convinced myself that perhaps a ringtone of some sort had escaped the very dead device. This time I wanted to be sure and checked over the Kindle. I pushed the button, I held it in, and even opened the van door to see if I could reproduce the noise. Nothing happened.
A very full moon dangled o’er the slow moving river while still a very gentle breeze passed by. Again, a ditty, and then a continuance from beneath the bridge filled the night air. I knew then there was no mistaking what was happening; in the thick of midnight under that bridge … something or someone was playing a fiddle. I listened intently and curiously at the skill behind the sound and embraced the moment as it unwound.
I felt an amazing sense of inner peace during the brief encounter with the phantom sounds of a ghostly fiddler. It was a surprise to discover that at the turn of the 20th century, a local fiddle player who had played a Halloween party had met his demise at that same location. He’d played that fateful Halloween night in the early 1900s and as he made his way home, he was murdered. Though very few details exist of the encounter, discovering these details offered me answers to what I had experienced on that bridge.
Perhaps I will return one day with some equipment to record the fiddler and perhaps he will even lend me the pleasure. For now, I retire with the memories of his well-played ditty and the contentment that came with it.