When we last saw Adam, he was emerging from the forrest, being lead into the light by his mysterious friend. Grateful for the the help, Adam pledged his life to his new master...
A rustling in the brush caused Adam to hesitate in his journey. Caminero continued without looking back, but Adam was curious. A man emerged from the woods and greeted Adam with a large grin.
“Hello, my name is Chicane, how are you?” He held out an eager hand to Adam, who politely received it. “What is your name?”
Chicane smiled warmly at him and paused to consider the name. “Adam.” He mused. “That is a fine sounding name if I have ever heard one. What brings you here?”
“I have lost my way while journeying. Caminero has graciously offered to help me find the way.”
Chicane glanced over at Caminero, who had paused a few feet away, and seemed to pay no attention to Chicane. Adam noticed that the two made a deliberate point not to stand too close together. “Caminero is it? I wondered what you were calling yourself these days.”
Caminero offered no response. Adam raised his voice. “You know each other?”
Chicane waved nonchalantly. “Of course. We are the only two that know the paths. No one knows them as we do. In fact, anyone that ventures this way will be guided by one of us. Only luck will determine who will guide the lost souls.”
Adam hesitated. Caminero had been very clear that only he knew the right path to take. Now Chicane was proclaiming the same.
Chicane peered deep into Adam’s eyes. “Ah, I see that you are confused. Caminero often misleads trusting souls. You won’t be the first.”
“The first what?”
He glanced at Caminero. “He has told other people that they can find the right path with his help, but he fails to tell them that they have a choice. That they have other options.”
There was something familiar about Chicane, as if they had met before. Adam stepped closer. “Tell me more. What other options?”
Chicane almost spoke in a whisper causing Adam to lean closer to him. “I imagine he told you that only he knew the right path, and that he established the paths.” Adam nodded in agreement. “Did he tell you that I also know the way?” Adam shook his head. “Did he tell you about the price you will pay to follow him?”
Adam stole a glance at Caminero, who was waiting patiently. “What price? I have nothing of value.” He imagined that he could trust Chicane. After all, he was telling him the truth, or at lest what appeared to be the truth.
“Ah, but you are wrong.” Chicane stepped closer to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. Adam did not flinch. “You have your life, and you will pay with it when you reach the end. In fact, you will pay with your life before you reach the end.”
“But how is that possible?”
Chicane scolded his peer with pursed lips. “How could you lie to him like that? Adam is a trusting soul, and you take advantage of him.” He directed his attention to Adam. “It is similar to selling your soul.” He leaned closer to Adam. “Surely he told you that one path will lead to death?” Adam nodded. “Good, at lest that much he told you. There are two paths, but they are very close together. You have to be extra careful, or someone may trick you into following the wrong path and paying for your mistake with your life.” He stared intently at Caminero, who was ignoring him. “Did he tell you that you can learn to see the path on your own?”
“No, I was not told that I could learn to see for myself. However, after coming out of the forest, I can see the path much clearer now.”
“Good! You are a quick study. I like a man with a sharp, clear mind that can think for himself.” Chicane wrapped an arm around him as if they were friends. “I alone know the absolute truth regarding this path, you must be careful, or you will die. If I were you, I would tell this Caminero to take leave.”
Adam gazed hard at Caminero. Turmoil boiled within him, daring him to dismiss his friend. Caminero patiently waited for Adam to make his choice as if repeating a dance from long times past. Adam struggled to make sense of his new revelation. Had Caminero deliberately deceived him, or was Chicane now attempting to deceive him? After a moment of pause, Caminero spoke. “There is much darkness ahead, Adam. If you are going to make it we must leave now.”
Chicane leaned forward and whispered, “don’t you see what he is doing? You and I can both see the path. It is clearly laid out before us. You no longer need Caminero. Thank him for his services and send him on his way. Save your own soul, you should not have to pay so dearly for his help. A man’s life is too valuable to be wasted on trickery.”
Adam’s mind blurred. He was unable to think rationally. His mind told him that he was able to continue on his way without help. Yet, his senses told him that there was much darkness ahead. Danger, possibly death would become his companion if he continued without guidance. At long last, Adam made a decision. “Caminero, thank you for your help. I will be fine from here.”
Caminero spoke without moving. “The choice is yours, and I will abide by your decision. However, know this. When you are surrounded by darkness, simply call out my name and I will be there. There will be a time on your path when you can no longer call out to me, for I will not be found.”
“When will that moment be?”
“At the end, when it is too late.”
Adam hesitated. Chicane stepped forward and stood between them. “Have you forgotten that his fee for help is very costly? I will offer the same help but will charge much less.”
“Oh? Go on.”
“I will charge you nothing. In fact, I will point you in the right direction and allow you to make your own way, like a man. You won’t need me to hold your hand as you make your own path, for you are not a child, you don’t need help. When you arrive at your destination, you won’t have to pay with your life.”
Adam nodded in approval. “Yes, I like that. I am a man and I can find my own way. Thank you, Caminero. I appreciate your help.” He waved a salutation at him, summarily dismissing his former host. Caminero turned and continued in the direction they had been walking.
“You have made a fine choice, Adam. You don’t need anyone holding your hand; you will make it on your own.” He pointed with a crooked finger at the path. “The way is clear. If it seems right to you, then take it. You can see well enough now, and the light only grows stronger the further you go. I now bid you peace and luck.”
“Before I depart, Caminero offered me some water. I am very thirsty, do you have water?”
“I do in fact.” He handed Adam a skin of water. Adam didn’t see where the skin was hidden within Chicane’s clothing. He almost seemed to produce it from nothing. He greedily drank from the vessel, but stopped after a few gulps. “This water… It doesn’t taste right.”
“I assure you that it is pure.”
“It is the same as the water Caminero offered me?”
“It is reasonably similar.”
Adam drank again. “Funny, it seems to be a little bitter.”
Chicane waved the concern away. “Don’t worry, the more you drink, the better you grow accustomed to it. Drink up! You have a long journey ahead.”
Amazingly, Chicane’s prediction was true. The water almost tasted sweet after a few more sips. Adam shook Chicane’s hand and thanked his new friend, continuing on his way. The path was clear and he had no trouble find his steps. How could he miss the path? Everything was so clear to him. He hummed as he walked. He was at peace with the world.
To Be Continued--one more time!