My eyes had adjusted to the darkening surroundings and to the fire. I could see that stretched along the open front of the stable was a cord or rope. Hanging from it by their feet was a row of dead chickens. It shouldnâ€™t have seemed that strange to me because I had seen the same thing in the marketplace right next to the vegetables, but somehow in this eerie lighting it seemed gruesome. The red glow of the fire and the blood on their white feathers simply added to the weirdness of the scene.
I decided not to look that direction any further and instead started to look at the people around the fire. All of them were men, and they were either seated on the ground or squatted in a circle around the fire except for the one. Each had long hair that mostly hid their face while they kept their eyes down. They were bobbing their heads up and down in time with the continuous beating drum. Their chanting was monotonous and had seemed to grow louder and louder.
I couldnâ€™t completely make it out from where I was because the bongo player was in the way, but it looked like they were roasting a pig or something over the fire.
I leaned out just a little from the tree I was behind to try to get a better view of what they were cooking. The timing was such that just when I did, the man who had been dancing came around the edge of the fire and was facing my direction. I donâ€™t know if he had seen my movement, but he came to a dead stop and ceased his chanting. He had long scraggly hair that seemed to be going in every direction all at once. His dark skin had been painted with white streaks so that it glowed in the strange lighting. His eyes had white circles painted around them, and his face was also streaked giving it a fluorescent appearance. But the part that made my blood stand still was that his eyes were fixed straight toward my position.
I instantly froze. I didnâ€™t know what was going on, but I suddenly realized that I didnâ€™t really want to know or to get any closer.
After what seemed an eternity but was probably only ten or fifteen seconds, he began again to dance in his halting way around the circle of fire.
At this point, the only thought I had was that I wanted to get out of there, but I was afraid to move. What if I had been spotted or they just suspected that someone was there? If I moved again, I might be seen. And now I was starting to wonder if I had stumbled onto some kind of twisted ritual that wasnâ€™t for anyone to see.
My nerves were wound tighter than that endless bongo drum when I suddenly felt a hand wrapped over my mouth and at the same time another around my waist. My heart stopped! A burst of fear gripped me! I just knew that Iâ€™d been caught and was now going to be roasted alive.