Sometimes, a story will surface under the strangest situations. That's what happened to me a few days ago. Not far from where I live on the fringes of Dallas, Texas, there's a huge Half Price Books store. It's a place where I usually hang out about twice a month. Mainly, I go there because they have an incredible body of books on most of my favorite topics: Cryptozoology, Ufology, the Occult, and the Paranormal. And, HPB also have a huge body of old books on those same subjects, too. Some of the books are really old. Well, while I was in the store just a couple of days ago, and in the paranormal section, I happened to see someone reading a copy of none other than my book, Chupacabra Road Trip. I had a chat with the girl, Cheryl, who got very excited when she realized she could get a signed copy from me. It was a fun twenty minutes or thereabout. So, we had a good chat all about the Chupacabra and my treks across Puerto Rico and Mexico - where the creature has been seen on more than a few occasions. At one point, Cheryl asked me about (a) whether people still see the Puerto Rican Chupacabra and (b); if other strange creatures had ever been seen on Puerto Rico. I said "Yes!" to both, and told Cheryl of my many trips to Puerto Rico and the sightings on the island of Alien Big Cats, Bigfoot-type creatures, large lizards, and flying monsters. We had coffees in the HPB cafe and then went on our ways. Then, something strange happened.
I had a look around the store to see what I could find in the old- and paranormal-themed type books. There was a bunch of old paperbacks from the 1950s and 1960s. One was titled The Strangest Things in the World, a book written by Thomas R. Henry. The 223-pages-long book, published in 1958, didn't have chapters, just one-to-two-page-long-stories. I flipped through and saw one story titled "Monsters with Buzz Saws" (I haven;t read that one, yet!). Rather weirdly, however, and in an undeniably synchronistic fashion, the second page I opened had the heading of "The Demon of Puerto Rico." There I was, just a few minutes earlier, talking about the Chupacabra and other mysterious creatures on Puerto Rico. And, right after that, I picked up the Thomas R. Henry book and saw a section about monsters in Puerto Rico. More fascinating, this particular story was focused on an unknown Puerto Rican creature of the weird type. Of course, the Chupacabra wasn't on the scene until 1995, but this story - of another unknown monster - was fascinating.
Henry wrote: "In deep sunless ravines of Puerto Rico's Pandura mountain dwells the demon frog. It is a ghostly voice from mountainsides strewn with great, decomposing granite boulders and so thickly covered with tropical vines and bushes that it is almost impenetrable to man. Until twenty years ago it was only a voice, for none of the strange little creatures ever had been seen. The mere sight of the animal, according to many of the natives, would be fatal." Henry continued: "One man said they were about a foot long and armed with frightful teeth. Another assured me that anybody who saw one would die shortly afterwards. No offer of money could induce the boys or men to go into the cavities in search of them."
The story ended in an amusing fashion: despite what the witnesses claimed, Henry concluded that what had been seen was a tiny frog: Eleutherodactylus coqui. As for the frog, I've seen it on many occasions while on Puerto Rico. It's a little, engaging creature. As we're told: "The common coquí or coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is a species of frog endemic to Puerto Rico belonging to the family Eleutherodactylidae. The species is named for the loud call the males make at night." The problem, though is that the little coquí frog (that can be seen all over the place) doesn't grow to the lengths of a foot! Nor does it have "frightful teeth." Either the whole story was filled with not many facts but a lot of exaggeration, or that Henry had stumbled on tales of a still-unknown, strange Puerto Rican cryptid beast. Either way, it was a very strange, but entertaining day of synchronicity, old books, a frog that may have been a monster (or vice-versa), and downright weirdness!