“Go now, friend,” he began, leaning close to my ears.
His next words eluded me, but the unmistakably cold tone he used made my stomach tighten like a fist. As though pulled forth by a puppet master’s strings, my body took slow steps towards the door. I tried to will myself to stop, but my hazy mind wasn’t strong enough to resist Papa Etienne’s influence. It felt as though I was looking through someone else’s eyes; my body didn’t feel like my own anymore. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t even blink on my own. The only thing I had control over were my eyeballs. Even then, they served little purpose when I couldn’t even turn my head to fully examine things. I was forced to watch as my hands pushed the cobalt door open.
As soon as I exited the building, my ears were assaulted by a wall of deafening music. I progressed towards Bourbon Street and the rowdy crowd populating it. They gyrated to the obnoxious beat and cheered as a succession of floats wheeled by. There was something odd about them, though. Something I hadn’t noticed before. The crowd’s movements were jagged and laggy, as though I was seeing them through a strobe light. Then again, it was entirely possible I had Papa Etienne’s drink to thank for the unsettling effect.
Out of nowhere, a woman in an ornate mask flew in front of me, and then slid back motioning for me to follow. As she drifted farther away, her face began to morph. Her bedazzled feathered mask took on an altogether different appearance.