Early in the morning, Eshu was gulping rum as he ran through town, and between drinks he yelled to all who would listen, “There is danger afoot! Take care as you walk. There is danger afoot! Take care as you walk.”
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Men, women, and children were afraid, and everyone in town walked slowly and carefully. Many chose to stay home. For Eshu was a wise orisha, and when Eshu gave a warning, there was a reason. So slowly and so carefully did they move that nothing got done that morning, and by late afternoon everyone was angry that they found no danger.
“We’ve been tricked!” they complained. “There is no danger today! And our day is half-gone! That Eshu is nothing but a trickster!” Everyone went about their business, ignoring Eshu and his random warnings.
“But there IS danger,” Eshu thought. “Watch this!” he told himself.
Thoroughly drunk, Eshu ran to the crossroad. From his small animal-skin-bag he pulled out huge gallons of red palm oil; and like a child who spreads finger-paint on paper for the sheer joy of making a mess, he smeared the oil on all four branches of both streets. He ran; he jumped; he slid through the oil wildly, all the while drinking more and more rum.
When Eshu was thoroughly sauced, a young man came to the intersection, and when he saw Eshu spinning frantically in the middle of both streets, he called out to him, “Eshu!” he yelled, “May I cross safely?”
Eshu stopped mid spin and looked curiously at the man. In his mind he thought, “Is he crazy? The roads are slicked with oil, inches deep!” Instead, he stood there and said, “It is safe to pass, my friend.”
The man took but one step; he fell down, and busted his head on the pavement. Covered in oil and blood, he looked at Eshu angrily, and without a word, crawled back the way he came.
“I told you there was danger!” yelled Eshu, skipping and skating wildly in the oil-slicked streets. He stopped as he saw an old woman walking with a cane. “Young man,” she called out to him, “I need to cross here, but the road looks dangerous. Will you help an old woman cross the street? Please?”
Eshu smiled warmly at the lady, and offered his arm. She held on tight, and together they crossed the street safely. “Oh, thank you, young man!” she said, holding his hands warmly before walking away.
Eshu stood there and cried. “They told me there was no danger. They were right. I was wrong.”
By now, so drunk was Eshu that he saw himself standing in front of himself, and he asked his hallucinogenic double, “Eshu, I heard there was danger in the streets, and the crossroad looks unsafe. May I cross the road safely?”
Eshu said, “I was told that there is no danger today. If there is no danger, it must be safe. Of course you can cross safely!”
Trusting in himself, Eshu took a few careful, faltering steps, but the oil was thick and slick and he fell down, hard. His leg snapped in two, twisting at an unnatural angle.
“That trickster . . . he lied to me!” Eshu screamed, in agonizing pain.
But his anger did not last long. On his broken leg, Eshu danced, and he laughed at Eshu’s folly and pain. “The next time I tell you there is danger,” he told himself, “I bet you will listen!”