- Call me Richard. Please. I could say don’t call me Rich because I’m not. Or, I don’t like being called Dick because I don’t act like that. I have this thing about being called Richard, a kind of neurosis or mental disorder or something like that. Then there’s the dread “Poor Richard,” which some people say if only behind my back. I may have fooled myself that profound loss can be conveniently then forgotten, but other people are not so easily duped. Still, I didn’t want to be pitied. Didn’t Michael J. Fox say that pity is a form of benign abuse? Something like that.
- What I wanted was business as usual. I went up to Sleepy Hollow to collect a debt. Or should I say I went to see about my cough? Isn’t that what you say when you expect something ordinary like a prescription for cough syrup and the Kraken gets released? For that one brief, shining moment as I strode across Tarrytown before the ambience of the streets changed in Sleepy Hollow, I felt as if I held a slice of Americana in my hands, and, that America had come back again. Time didn’t shift but something did. and I felt myself compelled to go back again. Was I bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the legendary region? No, but I did get my money’s worth. I was bothered by Halloween events, bewildered by local, quirky people and possibly bewitched by a post-Revolutionary journal which purported to contain “rare doings,” and “odd usage of local vegetation,” which I bought at a secondhand store as a souvenir. A schoolteacher I met up there likes to say that I am the guy who went up to Sleepy Hollow as one man, but came back another.
- So maybe this journal didn’t so much unravel an age-old, storied mystery as unlock a rocky heart. It was enough at the beginning that my Hudson Valley excursions got me out of the house on the weekends. But then I started going again and again. What did I find? There was a man without a head who was dead but didn’t quite get it. I suppose that even before the Headless Horseman appeared that the chase was on. Already adept at chasing myself up hill and down, all around the town, I would soon stand outside myself watching myself watching myself. That was all rational enough.
- But where did this strange urge to dig, to literally dig up the ground beneath my feet come from? You could say Sleepy Hollow unearthed that compulsion. I’m no Washington Irving. Who is? I wish I was a better man with a story to tell. Or, a worse man with a better story. Truth is if I hadn’t gone to Sleepy Hollow I wouldn’t have a story to tell. If you don’t believe the half of what follows, it will still be true.