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First Summer: Part Three

A couple weeks ago, Ailish had dropped into my office with a newly discovered Henry Shoemaker story. It detailed a Civil War deserter who hid out in a local mountain, and found a cave that turned out to be haunted by the ghosts of Indian warriors, who had chased him out because of his cowardice. Using the maps in my office and the details in the story, we'd figured out what mountain it was, and roughly where the cave should be.
And we were there.
A rock underneath me gave out, and I started to slide down the mountain. I whipped around and grabbed a fallen tree root with my left hand, not dropping the camera. I dangled for a moment, then reached up and set down the camera on the tree trunk, and climbed up.
"Are you allright?" caled Ailish.
"Oh sure." I wiggled the tree root. "I'm lucky that held."
I took my photo, and then we started climbing back up. Pausing at the top to rest, I lit a cigar. Ailish stared at me.
"You almost killed yourself falling down the mountain, I'm out of breath, and now you're smoking a cigar?" she asked incredulously. "That's so cool, like a movie character!"
"Victory cigar," I said. "We found our cave."

The LHPS team met at the McElhattan McDonald's at six. Not for dinner, but to go investigate the Giantess statue. I rode over with Kara, and we met Kathy and her father, Karen, Theresa and Ailish, Jen, and Millie. I had my whip, and I'd worn my best Indiana Jones hat because I knew it would amuse Ailish and Kara.
After some food, we proceeded over to Zindel Park. Carrying all our equipment, we walked in. I'd been worried about smoking around Kathy's father, who was there to supply the underwater camera. But when I asked if anyone would mind if I smoked a cigar, he asked if I had an extra for him. I gave him a Cuban Mistake.
We walked in to Zindel Rock Garden together, and got our stuff---While we got set up, Ailish hid her own geocache, and I took the reading. She's been dying to place a cache there since the first day I took her. Kathy and her father hooked up the camera, and everyone gathered it around while they lowered it into the water.
Which was more murky than before. And a dead spider floating on the top didn't comfort some of the girls any. So we pulled the camera back up through the grate, and Ailish, Theresa, and I pried the trap door up again. There were two huge spiders, which sent Jen and Ailish running, and I suddenly found Kara velcroed to me. Which was pleasant. I knocked the spiders away with my whip.
We lowered the camera down through the trap door. Turned it, spun it, got a few glimpses, which were intriguing. Everyone gathered around, but we didn't have much control of the camera. We pulled it back up---This was like looking for the Loch Ness Monster.
"Can we tie the camera to something?" suggested Kathy. "To get better control over it?"
"Anybody got string? Duct tape?" suggested Theresa. Everyone dug through their packs and bags.
Twenty minutes of digging and messing with the camera:
"Can we strap it to this stick?"
"Nobody has string?"
"See if my hair band will hold it!" Kathy.
Kathy and Ailish tried to strap it on the with hair band, which didn't work.
"Here!" I held up my first aid kit. "I have some cable ties."
"We can use my tripod," suggested Ailish. This went better.
"If I use two zip ties, I can get it on," said Theresa.
Theresa and Ailish finally got the camera strapped on. Ailish lay down on the concrete, and lowered it in through the trap door---I give her credit, she wasn't letting the spiders stop her. Everyone gathered around the screen, and Ailish moved the camera at our direction, to focus on the Giantess. And everyone got a clear look at the thing for the first time.
"Ooooooh!" Everyone, all at once.
"You see why the Kids and I were so excited over this?" I asked.
"Yeah," breathed Jen. I have to give Jen credit, though she was afraid of the spiders, she hadn't run, either. All of us wanted to see this thing pretty badly.
"It's humanoid," said Kara. "Look, there's a head."
"Can someone take over for me, so I can see?" Ailish asked. I went over and took the tripod, and she went to the screen.
"Tell me when I'm close," I said.
"Ailish, he's got longer arms than you," said Theresa. "He can get closer in."
Ailish, mostly, directed me. I got very close to it with the camera, and everyone tried to get their own still photos of the screen. When we had enough evidence, I pulled the camera back up.
As we packed our stuff away, Kathy said,"Guys, you did really well tonight. I saw some very good teamwork."
"Thanks, guys," I said. "Usually, when I make a discovery like this, I gotta do this stuff alone."
But I'm not alone any more, am I? I don't have to do it alone. I'm part of a team.

We gathered in the Mackeyville area a few days later. Millie had proposed an investigation of Cedar Hill Cemetery. Ailish and I were interested in finding the Chisholm family, who had been murdered in Mississippi by the KKK around 1877. Also, a geocache.
We met for ice cream, headed out to the cemetery. The first meeting we'd had, at the hospital, was stilted and uncomfortable, all of us judging one another. But by now, we'd gotten to be a team. More than a team----We'd become friends.
We entered the cemetery at dusk.

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