Meetings of Import
I am at a gathering of spiritual heavy hitters at some long tables laid out in the park. Mephistopheles and Anubis and Cupid and Yeshua, and countless others, all assembled here at what seems like a regular event. The table is piled high with offerings of all sorts; foods, currencies, scrolls, libations. Each of us has emptied our metaphorical pockets of whatever tributes we’ve received from the mortal world, that they might be more equitably distributed among us. It doesn’t feel forced, like some Union of Psychopomps has a tip-sharing clause we all must obey; but more comradely, like we all look out for those of us whose stars are on the wane (literally, in a few cases) for this turn of the world of men, all share willingly our spoils so none goes without sustenance. We’re chatting and joking and enjoying the repast, reminiscences of old times and anecdotes of new, with no hierarchy, no quarrels over territory or ascendancy.
As things start to break up and we drift away in twos and threes, back toward our respective haunts (again, sometimes literally), I pluck a last thick sheaf of crisp green bills from the table and wave it toward this and that of my comrades, asking if anybody lays claim to it, but nobody seems interested, so I tuck it in my shirt. Not to hide it, just so my hands will be free.
Mephisto and I saunter along the tree lined sidewalk, enjoying the sunshine, he in a nicely tailored pinstripe suit and a human aspect, myself in a sweatshirt and jeans. He’s doing the Jareth thing with a crystal globe, he deftly rolls it across the back of his hand, turns it a certain way, and it’s an orange. He tosses it to me, and I catch it effortlessly behind my back, without looking. Without a pause, I toss it back, it is peeled when it lands in his hand. I walk a few steps ahead, facing forward, and we continue as we walk, tossing the orange back and forth without ever looking at it or one another. My hand always finds it, or it always finds my hand, there’s no real difference. Enjoying our game, we start moving faster, at first just striding quickly, then jogging, and before long we are running full tilt, dodging occasional pedestrians, still playing no-look catch with ease, even when we are running faster than any man could sustain for more than a sprint. The running costs me no stamina, does not jar my body or steal my breath, and yet it is also not physically exhilarating as it might be if I could feel my heart race. I still enjoy it in a detached, intellectual sort of way, like watching a fire play merrily in a hearth through the neighbor’s window, all the merriment but none of the heat.
Then the cock-crow pierces the veil of my repose and drags me from my warm cocoon of dreams, like a mewling babe torn from the womb of night, yet unformed and skinless, nerves exposed and raw to the bitter air and burning light.
A thousand curses upon you, Morning! You are my Nemesis!*
*(with apologies to Nemesis. Next gathering, I’ll buy you a beer).