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Oh the People You Will Meet


by Ben Segal

May 05, 2002

The following is a completely true story.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I were bouldering at Chickies Rock (Lancaster, Pennsylvania local crag). We'd been working on a traverse problem for about and hour or so, and we stopped to have lunch. Bolting down the path is a mangy old dog followed by his bizarre owner. The man was friendly and oddly dressed. He had on a fringed leather jacket with black indian headress tourist t-shirt underneath, beads, and red sunglasses. He began to talk to us about climbing and all the people who fall of of the rock face. Speaking in a northern version of a drawl, hecalmly led the conversation to shapeshifters; spiritual men who jump from the cliff and yet, on the ground, there is no body but only the silhouette of a great raptor in the distance. I stood thereslightly nodding my head as my friend tried to answer him, but was only able to say something like "that's pretty crazy." Our neo-spiritual visitor continued talking about ways to die, and how falling off a rock wall isn't the worst way to go. Then he leaned into me, and with a sort of half wink, a frighteningly grizzled gesture for a man probably in his thirties, he proceeded to explain that the way he'd like to die was by diving into a pool of sixty naked toothless women. Why toothless? apparently its less painful that way. By this point, we were of no mind to question his logic. And then in a dead-serious voice, he turned to leave and told us, "This is my dog, Cassie, you can call her Cassie. And I'm Shadow Walker."

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