Elwyn Leitus McCabe

handsome men walking

The last ship for Parnassus had departed. It had left. Isn’t that a landlocked place? Isn’t it a fabled place? The passengers had ignored me. Some wore scarlet scarves. Some not even sandals. It was all a confusion. A small man touched my shoulder and said, “The best things Man ever did were done before dawn,” and left, carrying straw baskets holding nothing. Half-flirting, I asked a woman holding two children, one under each arm, when there was the departure, the next. “Even though,” she said, “I can see that you’re not looking after my children, there is no other.” I could not understand, besides her admonition, what she had meant. The gangplank was full of people, and I was one of them. It had seemed they were all boarding. There was so much chaos it was almost festive. A man who looked just like the picture in my mind of what a vicar would be, repeated to no one that the times were dreaded, that these were the dreaded times. The bustle of people, the nonstopping commotion, the stink of animals, and the rubbing of clothes, this was all so ordinary. I had wanted to yell, I had wanted to shout that: that it was indeed so plain and so gloriously common. These seething shambles of humanity were indeed quite a place to live among. Inescapable, really. All of us, we all, were being knocked down, pushed, and bent over. Language, and words, and quips fell from our mouths like pieces and bits of straw to the ground would. Nobody minded, and everybody cared. By Zeus, by the nail of Thoth, I thought to myself: I am no one! The relief I had felt for the crushing moment of my life then had been exquisite and I knew that if I should take one more step with the crowd toward the mountain the rough magic spent would become everlasting.

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