That was the best way to describe it, thought Tim.
But a good sort of chaos. One filled with lights and velvet and gold trim and laughter.
Carnival in New Orleans. It was all he had imagined and more.
He'd seen Mardi Gras in movies and on the news, so he'd known to expect the parades and the beads and the crowds, the wine and love flowing easily.
He never would have guessed, though, how the smell of wine and sweet incense would pervade the air. How the music would flow from the big houses that lined the streets. Cajun music here, classical there, rock at the next one.
And the costumes!
Some were as simple as a plain mask, eyes shining behind the black plastic, but most were elaborate: costumes and jewelry and glittering masks with beads and feathers and bells.
His own was fairly simple: he was dressed as an old-fashioned dandy in deep green. His mask, made up of scarlet feathers, covered his eyes and nose but left his dark curls free.
He'd felt quite silly in his little hotel room, but when he stepped out onto the streets he fit right in. He'd been given a kiss and a rose by a beautiful woman in a very sexy harlequin's costume and at first he'd gaped open-mouthed and then he remembered why he'd come, why he was here, and he’d thrown his natural reticence into the wind and kissed her back enthusiastically.
Oh, he wasn't going to suddenly turn straight, but if he could kiss a strange woman like that, surely he could manage to do it with a man he found attractive.
He strolled along the streets, finding his way toward the French Quarter with its huge houses and it really felt like he was stepping into the past, with everyone in costume. There was an air of yesteryear about the place.
And when a young man with very green eyes stopped and offered him some beads, he put them around his neck and kissed the surprised young man hard. Laughing, he continued on his way. Oh, he was giddy.
It was a good thing he was open to new experiences, was a little high on his own boldness, for just about then someone grabbed him, a man wearing a black frock coat who kissed both of his cheeks. "Welcome to New Orleans." The voice had just the slightest accent, neither Southern nor French, but charming all the same.
He felt the heat in his cheeks, but he beamed at the man, meeting the dark eyes behind the mask. "Thank you! But how did you know?"
"Oh, darling, it is most obvious, no? You are new to this decadence." The man took his hand, and the skin against his was smooth and dry, warm.
He blushed harder and this time his eyes did drop. Yes, he was new to such things; he just hadn't realized he stuck out so much.
"What have you done so far? Have you seen a parade?" They walked down the street holding hands, as if they were old friends.
"It's my first day," Tim admitted, feeling a little more at ease. "I've only just come out into the streets, really."
"Oh! Then we must get you one of those amazing cocktails...a hurricane, yes? And get you more beads." Oh, the eyes behind that mask were so dark they almost disappeared in the shadow, making a shiver go up his spine.
"I've never had a hurricane," he admitted. "I'd like to try one."