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Dina's Gospel (Part 2/4)
Serialized short fiction
“Wait a minute,” O’Connor butted in. “This other woman. Is she a real person or part of whatever weird religious theater you and Dina were up to?”
“Dina called it the Enactment. As I’m sure you know, Detective, that there were two Marys. The Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, the, ah, sex worker.” O’Connor looked down into her tea and massaged her temples with the thumb and middle finger of her left hand. From the look on her face, I imagined she wished her mug held something stronger than tea. “Dina wouldn’t let me even whisper the name Mary. She was convinced that if I did the Devil would find her and kill her, preventing Jesus from ever being born.”
“So Dina thought she was in some sort of Biblical witness protection program?”
“You could put it that way.”
O’Connor pointed an index finger at her ear and spun it in the playground signal for crazy.
I went on. “To touch on the virgin question, that is a mistranslation, in my view deliberate, on the part of the Church. The original Hebrew reads ‘young girl.’ The word virgin first appears in the Greek text and thence into the approved Latin translations. The woman commonly called the Virgin Mary should be called Young Mary.”
“Can the history lecture and get back to what happened at the Judge.” O’Connor sat back in her chair and sipped her tea. A thin gold chain hung around her neck. I’d have bet my bottom dollar a crucifix hung from it.
Dina slid a fresh glass of wine toward me across the polished wood of the bar.
“That’s why we’re here,” I said. “To keep you safe. And when we go back—”
“You’ll be an angel again.” Dina leaned close, breathing quickly, her eyes wide.
According to the Word, returning would restore me to my angelic state. Dina, having been born human, would remain so—but she’d be the mother of Jesus.
“It is an existence, Dina, not a life as you know it. We are couriers, followers of orders. Time passes, but somehow we don’t feel it; it flows past us, and with it touch and most of the rest of what you experience.”
“But the strength, the power.” She was practically panting.
“The next time I appear before them, when I am flame and speak as thunder, the cowering humans will not know that I envy them their laughter, the breath of the wind and kiss of the sun on their skin; that I envy them even their terror, their trembling legs and leaking stomachs in the face of my power. Like you, they will see my strength and know their weakness, but they will not see the gifts they have.”
“But humans die,” she said, lowering her eyes and looking away.
“Yes, but before that, you live.”
O’Connor’s snort interrupted me. “But before that, you live? You had a cool Ben Hur vibe for minute there, but that’s a bit rich.”
“I didn’t write it.”
“You wrote ‘leaking stomachs’?” If she raised her eyebrow any higher it would hit the ceiling.
“I didn’t write any of it. If she were here, Dina would tell you she served as a conduit for a message delivered by an angel to a world that desperately needs it.”
“So if this Word”—O’Connor raised both hands to make air quotes—“had already been written, why were you and Dina at the Winking Judge playing Masterpiece Theatre?”
“Faith requires action. Prayer. Sacrifice. Surely you know that, Detective, being a good Catholic yourself.” O’Connor rolled her eyes at me. I sipped my tea as properly as I could considering the mug was chipped. “By enacting the Word we were setting the universe on its proper course, or so Dina believed.”
“And that didn’t sound crazy to you?”
“Of course it sounded crazy. But not significantly crazier than talking serpents and turning water into wine and wine into the blood of the Savior to wash down a wafer transmuted into a chunk of his flesh for weekly ritual cannibalism that wraps up in time to watch men in brightly colored tight pants battle over a pointy-ended ball. Broadening the focus a bit, there’s also—”
“Okay, okay.” O’Connor waved a hand back and forth. “You’re no fun to listen to when you rant. Get back to the story.”
“We’re about to get to the sex scene.”
“The sex scene?”
“I’m sure you saw the spare room at the top of the stairs. Dina rented it out and paid to have it redone like a Bedouin tent. Satin sheets, Turkish carpets, lots of pillows.”
“Yeah, I took a peek. The mess out back had me a little distracted, but I remember thinking that between the decorations, the water bed, and the mirrors it looked like Lawrence of Arabia meets Larry Flynt.”
I couldn’t help but grin. “The job did have its perks. I’m going to assume you’re okay with me skipping over some of the explicit details here.”
“I don’t need any second-hand jollies in the interrogation room, if that’s what you’re asking. Besides, if you don’t start skipping details, we’ll be here all night.”
“I can think of worse things.”
“Spending a night with you.”
“Easy, Samson, I’ve got cuffs.”
“Being handcuffed by two women in one night would be a personal record.”
O’Connor pointed at her belt. “Before the cuffs, you’d get the taser. After, you’d get the holding cell.”
I went back to the story.
Part 3 coming next week…