They discovered me slunk down and shivering between the automobiles outside the temple. The husband stretched me across the backseat, and the wife wet her fingers with a water bottle and smoothed my hair off my face.
“Good Lord Jesus! What evil has befallen you? It’s going to be OK, honey.”
My upper lip was inflated, and my face was throbbing. I told them I’d been drugged and cuffed by the authorities.
“Sweet Savior,” she said. “OK. Drive, honey. Drive back to the room, and we’ll figure this out.”
The husband hurried to the wheel, and we accelerated off the main roads to where the buildings leaned.
“If there’s a place we can take you, we’d be overjoyed. We’re not blessed with much, but if you need funding for sustenance or something other we’d be grateful for the chance to help a fellow pilgrim. We just stepped off the river cruise yesterday, and we’re caravanning through the Valley of Redemption in an hour.”
“Might I stowaway in your convoy?”
“Might I ride along with you and your husband? I’ll speak elsewhere with authorities who are by chance not so rampantly predatory upon the vulnerable.”
“Just close your eyes and breathe, darling,” she said. “We will figure this out.”
At their hotel, light pulsated off the tiles like voices of twitchy frogs, and I held myself with the water gushing over my broken mouth as she hesitated on the other side of the rubber curtain.
“Sometimes things have to get nasty before they get good. And it looks like they’re pretty nasty for you right now. Sometimes you need a good cry to set things right,” she said.
“Thank you very much,” said I.
“I hung clothes for you on the back of the door. It’s a bit dressy, but I think it’ll fit fine.”
When she closed the door, I hurried into the blue gown and shook my hair out with a towel.
“You look gorgeous.”
“Thank you,” I said, uncertainly.
We sped to the checkpoint, and she mushroomed a hat over my eyes as the soldier bent into the window.
“Nothing back here but us, darling,” she said.
The gate rose, and we set off, the third car in a chain across the desert.
“You fill out that dress better than I do,” she said. “I’m just so sorry for your predicament.”
I froze as her fingers brushed across my chest.
In the rearview mirror, an eyeball wobbled with excitement.
She stretched her tongue to my breast, and I twisted away, attempting to shield myself from her—and the husband, who’d aimed his phone our way and was snapping pictures over his shoulder as he handled the wheel. The woman’s hand smacked up my thigh like an asphyxiating perch.
“Close your eyes and seek peace,” said she.
And peace I shall possess upon the discovery of the site where those pictures are posted. For while you pig bitches browse, nestled in and crouched I shall be, and at that climactic moment at which you recognize the authenticity of my desperation as I’m devoured by evil, I will explode through your computer screens and plunge pencils into the centers of your eyeballs and send you reeling back to the gospels, seeking guidance against the blinding hellfire, for a simple virus I shall not spread. This oath I bequeath to the obliteration of the romance of youth.
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