DEEP CITY in Times Roman

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Finding their own Trails

Sophia sat, stunned. Lynette had just described the Wine Ceremony, and Sophia had just finished reading about the Matching Ceremony, and the Three-Day Ceremony, held after the reverend had separated Uni newlyweds for forty days following their vows. She’d read that during the Three-Day Ceremony, the Uni couples were to pray before having sex. Their prayer went like this:

We dedicate ourselves to you,

O Holy Father,

We dedicate our future progeny to you,

O Holy Father,

To become worthy of possession of the glory

Of victors by maintaining positions

In responsible activities.

The “responsible activities,” of course, were The Movement’s World-Saver Efforts. Sophia could buy into the idea of praying before sex. She’d prayed before each time she and Daniel had made love. She’d ask God to forgive them for fornication, to somehow bless their illicit relationship. After all, Sophia figured, she’d done all that she could: She’d told Daniel she wanted to marry him before she made love to him. So when she prayed before they made love, she wanted to remind God that she wasn’t a harlot. So, yes, she believed it was well and good that Unis prayed before sex, too.

But that Wine Ceremony sickened her. Drinking literal blood was blatant Satanism. It was a vain imitation of taking the cup of Christ, she knew it. Had they lived in earlier times, she was sure the reverend would have been burned for heresy—and blasphemy, although she herself hadn’t yet discerned exactly what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was. Regardless of what that was, she was certain the reverend’s actions should be reprimanded. But who’d do that in this world?

Today, she sat cross-legged on a satin spread, crossed her arms, and continued staring at snow welling in the gutters edging white trim on the pastel, clapboard houses. The scene outside Dupont Circle reminded her of Breckenridge, Colorado, where she’d hated winter, too. The snow left wet rings on rooftops and dribbled over icy waterspouts. Scents of burnt dust emanated from the furnace and filled the room while she stared through the gilt-edged windows. She stared, almost in a trace, unable to think. Then, after a while, she laughed at words that came into her brain in Waylon Jennings’s voice, to the beat of a Western tune:

Don’t wanna be a Uni bride,

Don’t wanna drink that bloody wine.

Hee haw, hee haw along.

O’ Rev. Ghunne, he gets you fixed

So you don’t want any sex.

Hee haw, hee haw along.

Don’t wanna be a Uni bride,
Sittin’ ’round horny all the time.

Hee haw, hee haw along.

Suddenly, the significance of the blue-fox purchase hit her. She’d no longer be wrapped in rabbit skins. At last, she’d become a fox—cunning, like Lynette. No more the trampled rabbit. Still chuckling, Sophia scribbled the lyrics into her journal. The song, she though, made her feel as if she’d started thinking a little like Lynette. The zany woman would enjoy the lyrics, Sophia was certain. Perhaps Lynette would come up with a few lines to insert, too.

Nonetheless, even if Lynette’s boldness intrigued Sophia, she felt more secure staying with her homosexual friend Tom. She wasn’t yet sure if Lynette’s wild plan was feasible, although the crazy woman had obviously put a lot of thought into it. Certainly, she was paranoid enough to include safeguards to ensure they wouldn’t get caught.

They were not to blow up The Lines building during this trip. “Oh, no!” Lynette had explained, eyes flashing, arms flailing. “This trip is just to mark the place. Shirley and I will build the bomb in Denver. When we return to plant it, Francois and Ralph won’t know we’re in the city.” She’d seemed to stare at the wall behind Sophia for a few seconds, then she looked back into Sophia’s eyes. “In fact,” she’d whispered, “do you think your friend would let us stay at his place when we return. It’s better if there’s absolutely no record of us being here.”

Sophia had shifted her weight from her right foot to her left, frowned, and drew a hand to her mouth. “I don’t know. His place is terribly small. And he might ask questions.”

“Just for one night. We’ll roll-out sleeping bags on the floor.” Lynette had flapped her arms and raised her voice an octave. “We’ll leave early in the morning to plant our flower, then we’ll get out of town immediately afterwards. In fact, I’m trying to figure out our transportation. Airports are too risky any more. But you’ll be with us all the way, so it isn’t like your friend would be housing complete strangers.”

Sophia said nothing but wondered how Lynette hadn’t realized that she was barely more than a stranger now. Tom had been her friend for more than fifteen years. She knew the request of housing three women would not make him happy. He’d need to know details. And she also understood that she couldn’t let him know what was going on. On the other hand, he might consider the situation so uncanny—so ludicrous, it would amuse him. But then, if he told someone—just one person—all their lives would be in jeopardy. So Sophia had refused to agreed to Lynette’s request. “I’ll think about it,” she’d said. “But we must come up with a more secure plan.”

“Unless.” Lynette had hesitated and smiled. “We can lure Tom into helping us. Then, he’d be an accomplice.”

Although at the time, Sophia had shaken her head and adamantly protested the idea, today, she reconsidered Lynette’s suggestion. Just where would Tom’s loyalties fall on this issue? she wondered. As an outcast himself, he might join them just for the fun of it. The Unis had condemned homosexuality and deemed it an “unforgivable sin.” So perhaps, their stance would inspire Tom to destroy the reverend’s propaganda machine. On the other hand, he was definitely against violence, and the thought of constructing a bomb would surely disturb him. Moreover, until she found a way to broach the subject, she couldn’t mention Lynette’s mission to her friend, even if reading about the reverend’s manipulative tactics with couples made her want to destroy The Lines today.

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