Mardi Gras–a myth

Diana, my guide, and I walk together down an empty street. We walk through the oldest part of the city, down near the docks. The streets are wet from a recent rain and overhead the sky is black. The only light comes from three streetlights on the opposite side of the street.
“I wouldn’t much like a place like this in the physical world.” I observe.
“It’s just as dangerous here,” Diana replies. “This imagery is to warn you of the danger.”
“I know.”
As we walk, I catch glimpses of possible threats. A group of hoodlums in black leather jackets just fails to materialize in our path. Later an old man in a trench coat with a gun clasped tightly in his hand looms out of the night only to vaporize as we approach. I turn to Diana and find Death walking in her place beside me, and then it is gone.
In the distance I begin to hear music and the sound of laughter. We turn into an alley and at the far end we see the marketplace filled with light and people. It is a celebration. We pause, remaining in the shadows of our alley.
“Well,” Diana begins, “we can turn back if you like. Both streets are equally dangerous, which do you prefer?”
I look back into the familiar darkness. “Which is my path?” I ask.
“Either can be; you must choose.”
“I choose the light and the life and the people.”
“So be it,” she replies, and the darkness is gone. Everywhere there is celebration.
The crowd presses in around us and I edge over to the sidewalk to find a little breathing room. Diana follows.
“What are they celebrating?” I ask.
“Life, that is what all celebration is about.”
As I stand there watching, one of the revelers runs up and blows a noisemaker in my face. I laugh. He raises his mask and smiles. It is the Lord.
“Come join in the party!” he shouts. He produces a mask and shoves it into my hands. “Here put this on.” Then he pulls down his own mask into place and runs off yelling, “Come on, and lighten up will you?”
I watch as he loses himself in the crowd. And then I have a thought. I run to a nearby merry maker and pull down her mask. It is the Lord. She laughs and replaces her mask. I run to another and another. Each time, I find the Lord.
At length I find myself standing in front of a window and my hands find my own mask. I pull down the mask and the reflection of the Lord stares back at me from the window. I laugh one final time replacing the mask. I rejoin the celebration, this time in earnest.
The following morning I return to the marketplace just before dawn. Most of the people are gone home. A few have inadvertently remained behind. Across the way, a man lies face down in the gutter lying in his own vomit. I cross the cobblestones and bend down to turn him over. He is an old man, haggard and gray. He is also drunk and yet for a brief instant I see the Lord’s smiling face staring at me from behind his empty eyes.
I bite my lip. Then I take off my coat and wrap him up as best I can. I really don’t even want to touch him but I decide to get him out of the rain. To my surprise he weighs almost nothing. I carry him to a nearby hotel.
The Lord, standing behind the desk, takes my money and directs me upstairs. I carry my Lord up two flights of steps into his room and to the bath. He doesn’t even stir as I wash his face.
I remove his filthy shirt and pop it into the laundry bag. Finally I put him in bed, stuff forty dollars into his pocket and quietly leave him to sleep off his drunk.

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