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We have been sitting in the dark for hours. I am on the outside of a circle of a half-dozen strangers, reclining on the thick carpeting of a suburban home, watching the silhouette of a hulking man with a digital audio recorder. We are waiting, and listening, for some proof of a ghostly presence in the room. And I, for one, am not optimistic. I’ve come here with Lou Gentile, a well-known ?gure within the murky realms of ghost hunting. And so far, we have found nothing to con?rm what this family in central New Jersey has told us: they talk about strange rappings, jiggling doorknobs, and an occasional bang in the basement. We have heard nothing of the kind. But more than that, we both think the vibe this family gives off is strange enough without the additive of spirits.

The family patriarch, whom I’ll refer to here as "Paul," moves with the disassociated air of a ghost himself. He is a quiet, intense divorcé who seems to rule over his girlfriend and son with his ominous silences. Like me, he has recently lost a parent -- in his case, his father. And while his family seems to maintain an appropriate skepticism, he clearly wants to believe.

Earlier, he showed Gentile a series of odd photos, including one that displayed what appeared to be a large, jagged light in his bedroom. He seemed happy when Gentile told him he wasn’t sure what kind of camera defect might produce that anomaly. "It could be a defect," Gentile told him, "but I haven’t seen one quite like this."

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Category: Science