I am in the wood, moving fast. We have found a path, a trail. It is narrow and sometimes obscure. Leaves and small branches smack at me if I’m not careful. The Ferryman comes behind me, bearing my burdens. My hands are free.
Shouldn’t the Ferryman be in the lead, I wonder? No. I am leading. No, actually. Deer Man is leading. Only I can hardly see him. When I lose the trail, I stop. I get still. I listen. Then Deer Man materializes again and we go on.
Where are we headed in such a fervor? There is a sacred spring at the heart of the wood. In the spring a white lotus blooms, holding light in the forest gloom. That’s where we are headed.
Suddenly I see there are monkeys sitting by the side of the path. Beggar monkeys. Blind beggar monkeys. They sit beside the path with their hands cupped before them in supplication. I stop to offer succor.
Is that a sound of discouragement from the Ferryman? I look back to see if he is signalling me to desist, but no, he is impassive. What I do is up to me.
I place in the monkey’s cupped hands an orb of light, soft and golden like a vitamin e gel capsule. I anoint his forehead with the oil. He clutches the orb and scutters off. I do not know if the gift has the desired effect, or any effect at all. It does not matter. I go on blessing the monkeys as I go.
There is a sudden confluence of bodies, a rush in at me that stumbles me. I drop all the orbs I was carrying into the leaf mold. The monkeys disburse as fast as they came. I sit in the leaves. Should I pick up the fallen bits? I wonder about that, then looking closer see that they are sinking in and seeding the earth. They are doing good where they have fallen. I don’t need to gather them back. I find that my pockets are still full.
I get up, brush myself off. We go on.