It’s hard to maintain a healthy relationship with a ghost.

An apparition’s here-one-minute, dissolved-into-mist-the-next lifestyle makes it an unreliable friend.

Late-night conversations (the better to get to know each other with) tend to feel one-sided. You ask “Who are you?” or “Why are you here?” and a spirit responds with silence or, at best, indecipherable muffling that sounds a lot like the furnace kicking on.

Ghosts are antisocial — shut-ins who refuse to leave the house. They never pay for dinner, and they’ll be the last to offer to pick you up from the airport. Even a casual end-of-visit hug turns into a 13-day possession requiring two ordained priests and a post-exorcism trip to the chiropractor.

But we can’t blame the spirits. They’re just being true to who they are: shadows of the once-living who now spend their nights rearranging furniture, futzing with the lights and making things creak.

Even still, the living are captivated. We’re enchanted by the ethereal like moths to a flame that we can’t see, but that makes one corner of the room feel really cold and creepy.

Paranormal researchers have worked for decades to gather evidence of ghosts in haunted spaces. Curious laymen are left to watch the hunts on television, enhanced with spooky background music, and share secondhand stories over dinner.

But on Saturday, novices of the supernatural will have a chance to do some ghostly investigating of their own during Midnight Explore at Damariscotta’s Salt Bay Cafe.

Red Cloak Haunted History Tours — a midcoast-based group that specializes in walking tours of haunted and historic places — is hosting the event to investigate some mysterious experiences that have happened at the cafe and adjacent businesses. They’re also giving amateurs an opportunity to play phantom detective.

“We want to give people an opportunity to investigate themselves and take away whatever they might find. They can evaluate it themselves any way they wish,” said Sally Lobkowicz, director of Red Cloak Haunted History Tours. “It’ll give people a chance to use the equipment and do a little bit of exploration. And we won’t have weird music playing in the background.”

The phantoms occupying the historic building, which was built in 1810 and currently houses the Salt Bay Cafe, the Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce and the Pemaquid Watershed Association, have kept up a steady stream of eerie activity over the years.

Employees report side doors that seem to open and close at random, followed by heavy footsteps in the hallways and upstairs. Investigations into the late-night and early-morning sounds prove fruitless. There’s no one there.

On a couple of occasions, a cafe worker has heard a voice call out her name. The sound, she said, seemed to come from right behind her. Except the room was completely empty.

More recently, Salt Bay Cafe owner Peter Everett observed a vertical mist pass through an upstairs office and disappear through a wall.

“We’ve kind of known about the experiences for years,” said Lobkowicz. “But they seem to have escalated over the last few weeks and months. Even a delivery man has had an experience.”

Paranormal investigating is new for the Red Cloak crew, Lobkowicz said. But they do know how to turn on an electromagnetic field detector, she joked.

Attendees will be divided into teams to explore various areas of the building, including the cafe and upstairs offices, and collect evidence using EMF detectors, audio recorders, cameras and their own powers of observation. Red Cloak will supply the equipment, but newbie investigators are welcome to bring their own cameras.

The event begins at 9 p.m. with a light buffet at Salt Bay Cafe and a briefing on the building and the experiences reported within its walls.

The cost to attend the ghost hunt is $45, and a portion of the fee benefits the Pemaquid Watershed Association. Space is limited, so interested folks are encouraged to register in advance by contacting Red Cloak at 380-3806 or redcloaktours @gmail.com.

There’s no telling what sort of evidence will be lured out from the dark halls of the 201-year-old building. Perhaps the recorders will track nothing but radio silence and the dull ticking of a wall clock.

Or maybe Saturday’s the night that one bold ghost finally reveals herself to ask, “Be honest — does this shroud make me look fat?”

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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