A few weeks ago, I drove through Albany on my way back from a visit to my fiancée’s cozy fifth-floor apartment in New York City. It was fall break, a welcome breather in my first semester teaching, ever; a chance to lie on the couch and read comics instead of trying to look and sound professional in front of a room of twenty people barely four years younger than myself. It was also, as luck would have it, a day of unpredictable New York weather: an clear, unimpeachable autumn morning as I crossed the Hudson and rounded the long curves of Palisades Parkway heading north, but by the time I rolled into Albany at noon the clouds were beginning to threaten with that weird electric energy that comes before a hard rain.
I was in Albany with a mission, and at the same time with no idea of what I was doing. I had a notebook and two addresses, one for a house I wasn’t sure existed and one for a 400-acre graveyard that almost certainly didn’t hold the name I was looking for. I had the bare outlines of a story, the full details of approximately half a murder trial, painstakingly copied from old newspaper scans, a car full of luggage and old wrappers, and not a lot else.