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(Note: This may not apply to everyone, but it might give you some atmosphere or just be fun to do. Once the "yarn" begins, we can all come up with real meeting stories.)

At some point in your life, you realized there was something strange about you. Perhaps you were born with some extraordinary talent or affliction, or maybe you discovered it about yourself in your later years. Regardless, you know that in some way, you're not like other, normal people.

But, like a normal person, you have to take a chance sometime. Wait until the page stops loading, then pick a number.

















You might have been sitting at home, or on the subway, or even a park bench. Maybe you don't always read the newspaper, but for some reason, you find yourself looking at the advertisments today. One rather small and very ornate one catches your eye.

Do you realize you are special...

"Freak show," you wonder, probably thinking of midgets and men from barbarous countries. But the advertisment doesn't quite sound like it is seeking illustrated persons or fat ladies. "Talented." "Abilities."

You know a freak show probably wouldn't run in the winter, not even on Coney Island.

Of course you'd never perform in a freak show, even if, by some strange chance, you really were what Miss Williamson was looking for.

But you'd like to meet such an adventurous woman.

And you might even go out of your way to do so...

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You might have been at a party, or maybe you were shopping, or just on your way to work. But it is one of the strangest events in your possibly-already-strange life.

You spot a pretty woman wearing large boots, and a tight-fitting hat, almost like a jockey's. Her hair is under her hat, but the little pieces that stick out are dark and incredibly curly.

What strikes you most is her eyes. They are a brighter green than emeralds, and focused right on you. You get the strange feeling that this young woman knows all your secrets, a thought that probably makes you uncomfortable.

She approaches you, smiling slightly. You try to edge away, but she asks you to wait. She pulls a card from her pocketbook.

"I'm Libby," she says, looking straight into your eyes. "Please look me up if you ever need anything."

You take the card, dumbfounded. When you finally figure out a question to ask, you look up, but Libby is gone. Still confused, you read the card.

It's the middle of winter. It snowed yesterday. But you still feel this strange desire to pay a nickel and take a trip to Coney Island.

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Only a fool would visit Coney Island in the winter. Only a few restaurants are open, the ocean is much too cold to swim in, and almost every attraction building is closed and boarded up. But perhaps you live near, or even on, the island, or maybe you just felt like visiting.

As you walk down West 15th Street, just a bit off the main thoroughfare, you see old posters from last season still pasted to telephone poles and walls. Everything is closed down, and seems a little sad. The only people on the streets are clearly people who live in the area. Most of them are rather poorly dressed.

One poster catches your eye. The sun hasn't faded it, and its corners haven't been ripped off yet. Its bright red letters read:

"Talent." That word makes you think. You sneak a look around, but see no signs for this so-called Freak Show.

"Interested?" a lady's voice asks.

You quickly turn around and spot a woman in a dark wool coat, large boots, and a tight-fitting hat that looks rather like a jockey's. Her green eyes are nearly as bright as Luna Park at night. Before you can reply, she takes your hand and shakes it. Her grip is surprisingly strong.

"Elizabeth Williamson, owner and talent-seeker of Libby's Freak Show. You can call me Libby if it floats your boat." She finally releases your hand, smiling. "I'm always looking for new talent, and investors. You interested?"

The young woman looks determined, and you have to know you have to say something...

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