We saw a most amazing phenomenon of The Walking Dead, a cadre of Ancient Ones dancing in the square. It was marvelous to behold. Half of them were these patrician, refined, elegant specimen; the other half were crazy people. One had a low-slung, blood red muumuu, her cane drooping from one wrist, a silver butterfly matting down her hair, and she was spinning spinning spinning. Ishtar and I danced to Ochi chernye [a famous gypsy song popularized in Soviet times] until we saw the vehemence in the Ancient Ones' gaze. We struck a retreat.
There were more Ancient Ones throughout the park, and they were all so much more striking than their younger counterparts - than the men drinking beers, or the couples shushing squalling children, or the family rollerblading. These were such as had dressed themselves according to daguerreotype standards: the beehives and flowing sundresses of nineteenth century aristocracy, the Virginiae and Septimi who somehow escaped defenestration and riverification.
With such age comes, as the story goes, increased danger. At one point we found ourselves in the woods, Ishtar and I, and the Ancient Ones were bearing down upon us, jealous of our youth, and they were striking their silver hips and chestplates with birchwood staffs and staves. They trapped us in the bathrooms - which were, for once, without a cover charge - and we cowered underneath a sign that said: "Respect the cleaners. Pee in the toilet."
Ishtar called out to the Ancient Ones:
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,And the Ancient Ones, whose dead acquaintances indeed outnumbered those whom they knew alive, beat a hasty retreat, their muumuus all a'rustling, their canes ne'er touching the ground as they ran, the silver butterflies fluttering like every beat of the wings was taking away another breath from those wrinkled breasts.
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.
And that was how Ishtar saved the day.