At midnight the police moved in and began to disperse the dense French Quarter crowd. The members of that crowd didn’t want to stop the party but reluctantly gave away, breaking into sub crowds, then into smaller groups that gradually streamed off toward homes or other parties. Fat Tuesday was over. Lent had begun.
As the crowds split, a cold hard gust of wind came blowing in over them and over the Quarter. It gathered other gusts to itself, swirled across the Faubourg Marigny and up Bourbon and Royal streets like a desert dust devil. It carried with it black dust and a mélange of beads and other Mardi Gras trash. It picked up the stench of sweat-soaked people, the stale odors of alcohol, urine, vomit. Along with those scents it gathered the thoughts and feelings of the revelers—their joys and rages, their laughter and sobs, their lusts and sins.
And when the wind had all of that in its grasp, it leaped upward toward the highest steeple of the St. Louis Cathedral.The cross at the top of the steeple shook; a dirty shadow enveloped it, then shrank down, took darkling form. For a moment it seemed that a long-armed man clung to the steeple. Then the figure leaped down and down from the cathedral and disappeared into the bushes and hedges of Jackson Square. The wind was gone as if it had never been.