I thought I’d shared all the strange happenings of my birthplace, Foster Flat, in the first book. Then, one night, when I was feeling particularly lonely sitting in my cubby-hole of an apartment here in Atlanta, I pulled out several of the journals I’ve kept through the years. What I found shocked me. I spent all that night and much of the next day circling passages and inserting post-its at the start of each strange tale. Thus began the book that you now hold in your hands. Over the next few weeks, I sorted through the journals in search of the stories that I felt most represented the unique nature of my hometown.
It’s likely, if you’ve read the first anthology, you’ll recognize a few of the Foster Flat citizens, though most will be new to you. For sure you should remember my dear Aunt Ellenore. You know, the one who found her muse sitting on her front porch. But muses are a bit like a set of keys. You find them, then lose them, then find them again. At least in Ellenore’s case, she became wiser for the experience.
Then there’s Albert Goldman, who owns Goldcraft, Inc., one of the coolest stores in town, with the oddest assortment of nicknacks displayed in the front window. Especially when you consider it’s mostly a jewelry and watch repair business. A couple of my classmates swore to me it was also the location of a most bizarre, yet true, story. Now, there were quite a few kids I went to school with that I would never trust to tell the truth, but Randall and Pee Wee were not among them. They were straight shooters.
Just like Reginald and Daisy Davis—two upstanding citizens of Foster Flat who took their love for travel and exotic masks and turned them into a business known simply as the Mask Museum. I visited the museum quite often, but never at night, even though Daisy invited me to come by any time. It was just too spooky for any late night excursions. Daisy maintained the museum for years after her husband passed on to the everlasting, though she claimed to be just as close to him as though he were still alive.
There’s also a story about one of my favorite eating establishments—Lin Shu’s Chinese Pagoda Restaurant. They serve some of the best Asian food anywhere. I’ve yet to find a place here in Atlanta that compares. While I didn’t know Wilbur that well since he worked at the Pagoda only one summer, he swore that every bit of his story was true, and I have no reason to doubt him. After all, his uncle, Mr. Alfred Peterman, is one of the deacons at the Baptist church my family attends. I feel certain Wilbur knows it’s a sin to lie, especially to a future journalist.
While Lin Shu’s is a wonderful place to go for lunch or dinner, you simply can’t beat the Apothecary for a good ol’ southern breakfast. I don’t know how Fatima does it, maintaining the restaurant in the front of the store while running her natural healing practice in the back rooms, but she does, despite a few challenges she had with the North Carolina Medical Board of Examiners a while back.
Of course, not all parts of Foster Flat are as upstanding as our Main Street downtown area. You might recall a story about the strange happenings around the Seventh Avenue district. Well, not far from there, another story unfolded one cold Christmas season. When I heard the tale, I was honored to be a part of such a fine community with such wonderful people as Emily Lawson. My word, but that woman is a saint, even if she is a Methodist. She’s still good Christian folk.
Now, at first I wasn’t going to include the two last stories, but then I remembered that my job as a journalist is to report the facts as best I know them. True, little Jimmy Brown may not be the most reliable source I ever interviewed, though since working at The Global Inquiry, I’ve spoken with several less reliable witnesses (and their stories made it into the paper). As for the last story...well, I’m the primary source for that one so I know it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Roving Reporter for The Global Inquiry
Born and raised in Foster Flat, North Carolina
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