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[A Tale in understanding human drama]

A stranger approaches the boatman on the river Styx with three captives in irons. All of the captives appear to be asleep.

Stranger: Awaken, boatman, awaken. I have three souls for thee!

The boatman lifted his head from the half slouching stance he was in, his gnarled fingers grabbed the steering oar as he leaned forward to a standing position. The stranger stared into what used to be eyes… now only empty sockets.

Boatman: I’ll need six coins for passage. One for the boat, on two I live, but three for homage. That way I’m left alone, you see, and he’ll do me no more damage.

Stranger: Aye, I have your six coins, boatman, for passage of these souls bound for the pits of Hell. When you finish your task at hand, what do you do?

Boatman: I take my fares to their destination, their final trip anywhere and return for the next fare… it doesn’t stop.

Stranger: This is my first drop off of souls. I have associates and I’ve been told you would take care of me and aid in any and all details that need to be addressed.

Boatman: I’ve helped many who came to me with souls for their final journey, beyond that, I’d be glad to help you understand what your associates meant. I’m sure you’ll find your way to my boat.

Stranger: Any and all help would be appreciated.

Boatman: You’re helping me, I’m sure I can help you.

Stranger: That is what my associates said you’d say… every word.

Boatman: That’s good, I feel as though we have good times ahead of us. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Stranger: I had no idea it would be this easy. I had this notion in my head things would be different… harder, based on everything I heard.

Boatman: Not everything you hear do you get a chance to experience and not every experience do you get to hear about.

Stranger: You make a convincing point, boatman, but why?

Boatman: Take these souls for which you paid me my wages. Their experience will be theirs alone and no one else.

Stranger: The experience these souls are going to share can be shared, to a degree, but only if you’re interested!

Boatman: What do you mean?

Stranger: I’d be willing to pay to see what you normally do, when you take your fares, to experience something no one else has and something only people have heard about.

Boatman: Let me think about this for a minute. You’d pay for this?

Stranger: Sure. It would be the chance of a lifetime.

Boatman: How much would you be willing to pay for the chance of a lifetime?

Stranger: What would I pay? Good question! If I say an amount to high I rob myself, and if I say an amount to low I offend you. What would you accept, boatman?

Boatman: For the experience of a lifetime, I’ll say four coins! Two coins taking you and two coins to return.

Stranger: I’ll give you ten coins for your trouble, keep you company and give you more conversation than these three will.

The boatman nodded as the stranger woke the three men, who grumbled a little from being awaken, and all four stepped into the boat. The minute they were all seated, the boatman pushed off from the dock and steadily worked the steering oar.

Stranger: You must tire of this chore?

Boatman: This is what I live for. This is all that remains to existence… to give purpose and meaning, neither punishment or reward.

Stranger: To what would you be punished for if not to labor for an eternity?

Boatman: Labor… this isn’t labor, compared to what others have been subjected to, where these souls are bound. I wouldn’t call it punishment as it’s easier than the life I had among the living.

Stranger: What will you do when there is no more… no more living that is?

Boatman: Then I will spend what I have saved, until there is nothing more to buy or nothing left to buy with.

Stranger: What can you buy, boatman, that you should save for?

Boatman: Respect, I will buy respect and not worry about petty jealousies that go along with it, just like the ones you deal with.

Stranger: How’d you know about that?

Boatman: I know your associates well, well enough to see through them and their greed. It comes down to the details and obligations both sides of the river honor.

Stranger: We’re almost there, boatman, and I see people standing in wait. They have more restraints! This dim light makes it difficult to make out but it looks like three, No… four more sets of chains!

Boatman: They came prepared!

Stranger: Boatman, I only have three souls for you!

The stranger now appears to be nervously sweating, his eyes darting and widened a little at the beginning of a realization… one which comes with the stench of betrayal.

Boatman: But I have four for them. What your associates didn’t tell you was this is a one way ride, but they did say you were conveniently curious. It pays to know the people you put your trust in, instead of trusting you understand the position you choose to put yourself in- of your own accord.

Stranger: Have I not paid you for a round trip… you took my payment for ‘a chance of a lifetime?’

Boatman: I did take your payment and you shall pay. You shall pay dearly… with your very life. You see, for the live ones I make more! Think of it as greed all the way down the food chain… that finally reaches out to you.

Stranger: Have you no conscience?

Boatman: No more than you, stranger, as you come here to gain from another soul’s losses. We are the same… I’m just better at the game!

The words on the gate in the distance read,”Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Matthew 16:26 KJV For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:36 KJV For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Luke 9:25 KJV For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?