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(TELLER YELLS BOO: AT EXCITING POINT

I WAS ON A CANOE TRIP A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, ALONG WITH
ANOTHER COUNSELOR AND OUR CABIN GROUPS. WE WERE UP ALONG
THE AU SABLE RIVER. ONE NIGHT ABOUT ELEVEN, AFTER THE
KIDS WERE ALL ASLEEP, ROSS, THE OTHER COUNSELOR AND
MYSELF, WERE SITTING AROUND THE FIRE DRINKING COFFEE,
WHEN WE HEARD SOME SORT OF ANIMAL COMING THROUGH THE BRUSH
A COUPLE OF HUDNRED YARDS AWAY. WE KNEW THAT IT WAS A
BIG ANIMAL, FROM THE NOISE IT MADE, AND WE FIGURED THAT
IT WAS PROBABLY A SPOOKED DEER OR A WANDERING BEAR.
WHATEVER KIND OF ANIMAL IT WAS, THE FIRE WOULD KEEP IT
AWAY. SOMETHING WAS WRONG, BECAUSE INSTEAD OF MOVING
AWAY FROM THE FIRE AS IT SHOULD OF, IT MOVED TO WITHIN
60 YARDS OF THE FIRE AND BEGAN CIRCLING, EACH CIRCLE
SEEMING TO GET SMALLER AND SMALLER. INSTEAD OF THE FIRE
SCARING AWAY THIS ANIMAL, IT ALMOST SEEMED TO BE
ATTRACTING IT. WELL, AFTER ABOUT FIVE OR TEN MINUTES OF
THIS, I WAS LIMITING MYSELF TO THREE POSSIBLE CHOICES OF
ACTION. NUMBER ONE--GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. NUMBER
TWO--TAKE THE KIDS AND ROSS WITH ME. AND THEN GET THE
HELL OUT OF THERE. NUMBER THREE--HAVE ROSS INVESTIGATE
THE SOUNDS AND OUR STALKING. JUST AS I HAD REACHED MY
DECISION, THE ANIMAL PASSED OVER A RISE ABOUT FIFTY YARDS
FROM US. THE MOON MADE HIM A SHADOW UPON HER FACE.
WE COULD SEE THAT OUR VISITOR WAS A MAN. ROSS CALLED
OUT TO HIM AND ASKED IF HE WANTED A CUP OF COFFEE. THE
MAN HESITATED FOR A MINUTE, THEN WALKED TOWARD OUR CAMP-
SITE. HE STOPPED JUST OUTSIDE THE LIGHT FROM OUR FIRE
AND SEEMED TO BE TURNING AROUND AGAIN, WHEN ROSS ASKED
AGAIN FOR HIM TO STAY A WHILE AND HAVE THAT CUP OF COFFEE.
THE MAN DID THEN COME TO THE FIRE AND SQUATTED DOWN
BESIDE IT AS ROSS HANDED HIM THE CUP. THERE WAS SOMETHING
FUNNY ABOUT THIS MAN, AND IT WAS NOT A FUNNY HA-HA, IT
WAS FUNNY WEIRD. HE WAS DRESSED IN A BUSINESS SUIT AND
THOUGH IT WAS TORN AND DIRTY FROM WALKING THROUGH THE
DARKENED WOODS, IT WAS OBVIOUSLY SOMEWHAT NEW AND
EXPENSIVE SUIT. I COULDN'T FIGURE OUT WHAT A MAN WOULD
BE DOING WANDERING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE DRESSED AS
HE WAS. I ASKED, "HAVE YOU BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT, ARE YOU
LOST?" HE JUST KEPT STARING AT THE FIRE. ROSS ASKED,
"CAN WE HELP YOU, ARE YOU IN TROUBLE?" THE MAN ANSWERED,
"NO ONE CAN HELP ME, NO ONE. YOU SEE I AM GOING TO DIE."
I SAID, "GROOVY, ROSS I'LL GO GET THE BOYS UP AND WE CAN
BE READY TO LEAVE IN TEN MINUTES." I WHISPERED TO ROSS,
"THIS GUY'S SOME KIND OF NUT, LET'S GET OUT OF HERE."
ROSS SAID, "HOLD ON FOR A MINUTE, BOB, THIS GUY'S NOT
CRAZY, HE'S JUST SCARED, REAL SCARED, SOMETHING IS SCARING
HIM TO DEATH." I STARTED SAYING, "ROSS IF YOU THINK HE'S
SCARED, YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET, WATCH ME FOR A WHILE
. . . ." ROSS SAID, "JUST WAIT A FEW MINUTES, MAYBE WE CAN
HELP HIM." I SAID, "I GUESS YOU'RE ALRIGHT, MAYBE WE CAN
HELP THIS KOOK." "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM MISTER?" I ASKED
HIM. "I'M GOING TO DIE," HE SAID AGAIN, ROSS ASKED, "WHY
DO YOU SAY THAT, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO DIE, HOW ARE YOU
GOING TO DIE?" THE MAN ANSWERED THAT "I WILL DIE AT
MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, MY FIRST PARTNER DIED ONE YEAR AGO
TODAY, AND MY SECOND PARTNER DIED SIX MONTHS AGO TODAY,
NOW IT IS MY TURN TO DIE." I SAID, "I TOLD YOU ROSS,
HE'S SOME KIND OF NUT . . . ." THE MAN ASKED, "WHAT TIME IS
IT, HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO LIVE?" "IT'S 11:30," ANSWERED
ROSS. "ONE HALF HOUR LEFTTO LIVE," THE MAN SAID. I ASKED,
"MISTER, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DIE?" "I DON'T KNOW," HE
SAID, "ALL I KNOW IS THAT I'M GOING TO DIE AT MIDNIGHT."
THE NEXT WENTY MINUTES PASSED SLOWLY, THE MAN REFUSED TO
SAY ANOTHER WORD. FINALLY, HE ASKED, "WHAT TIME IS IT?"
"FIVE OF, MISTER, " I SAID.... "WHAT TIME IS IT," HE
ASKED. "FOUR OF, MISTER," I SAID. . . . "WHAT TIME IS
IT?" HE ASKED AGAIN. "TWO MINUTES OF," ROSS ANSWERED.
HE SAID, "WILL YOU GIVE THIS LETTER TO MY WIFE, AFTER
I DIE?" I SAID, "I WOULD." "WHAT TIME IS IT?" ONE
MINUTE TO," I SAID. "WHAT TIME IS IT?" "MIDNIGHT," ROSS
SAID. "WHAT TIME IS IT?" THE MAN ASKED. "ONE MINUTE
AFTER," I SAID.

Submitter comment: AT THIS POINT THE TELLER OF THE STORY, SHOULD YELL "BOO"
OR SOME EQUALLY CLEVER REMARK, IN ORDER TO CAUSE THE
LISTENER TO DIE OF A HEART ATTACK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; CAMP OHIYESA ; ESCANABA

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Formula tale

Date learned: NOT

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