Late January, Louisiana. Unseasonable cold has blanketed the state. Faint smells of simmering stews and unused heating deep in the old buildings. Steam and memories warm the hot blood of the souls caught in the chill. Out of nowhere a man in a red jacket is there, small and dapper. A nod and the beginnings of a smile for the residents. They invite him into their homes. When he speaks, they listen. He weaves intricate tales of the near future that have them brimming with joy. His promises are endless and valid. He answers everything; omits nothing. His universe is ordered and complete and when he is finished, so are theirs. Joyous, they stand. Someone starts the music. The faint creases of the smile expand another few millimeters and soon he is on his feet, legs stretching, and then with spry grace he is moving in perfect time to the beats.
...He never sleeps, he says. He says he’ll never die. He bows to the fiddlers and sashays backwards and throws back his head and laughs deep in his throat and he is a great favorite, the judge. He wafts his hat and the lunar dome of his skull passes palely under the lamps and he swings about and takes possession of one of the fiddles and he pirouettes and makes a pass, two passes, dancing and fiddling all at once. His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die