I am currently reworking Shaare Emeth, please check back daily. Thank you, Teresa
Denny left his parents’ house five months earlier in August, 1976. Naomi brought him to St. Louis to marry him. He told her he was not attracted to women. But she thought she could change him. She already tried and failed to change another young, feminine man from Saltillo the previous year. Denny didn’t know if he would marry Naomi, but he did know he was looking for an escape, a way out of Tupelo. He wanted to escape from the fear of his father. He wanted to escape from the poverty and hopelessness all around him.
He didn’t know his life was centered around his father’s rages. He didn’t know his whole life was a battle to survive frequent violent outbursts. He didn’t see that he looked for triggers. Maybe it was the way he wore his hair; the way he moved his hands; the feminine pitch of his voice. He was attentive to anything that might provoke him. Finding no logical triggers, he found illogical ones. It had been the red and black striped shirt he wore. Maybe, it was the Paul Simon song playing on the radio? Maybe it was the way the sunlight came through the living room window? Triggers were everywhere. He was vigilant.
He was alive because of the slenderest of chances. His father told him he would kill him. He told him he would not live to adulthood. His Daddy screamed that his existence was an insult to him. The boy’s life was organized around beatings. Hurricane Camille struck Gulf Port just before he had to go sit at the road naked, then when called in, he was beaten with a long belt. His mother bought bell-bottom pants before he was beaten with a tree limb, for not painting the baseboards properly.
Denny looked at his body to remind himself. A curved scar on his right forearm was from a beating with a water hose. A blunt, jagged, round scar on his thigh was from when Daddy threw him into the corner of a brick wall. He couldn’t see them, but emotional scars were there too. Materializing into an impenetrable wall in front of him, they would be with him forever. The wall protected him. He couldn’t see the reality of the horror. Decades later, he would imagine what lay on the other side. In 1977, away from the monster, he no longer needed the wall.
He laid the stones himself. He used the pain as mortar to hold them together. But, the wall would crumble; it would collapse at the center; opening a gateway. He would be loved with a LOVE so strong, the wall would fall away. He would step, hesitantly, through that gateway, into his future; the future he had been born to, the future Batresh was here to protect.
Denny lay in Bob’s arms and two homemade quilts. Outside, they heard the wind roar around the corner of the building. It was snowing. Denny lay with his head on Bob’s chest.
“I did run away from home when I was 16.” Denny responded to Bob’s question. “My Daddy tried to make me read a book called, 69 Gay Street,” he focused on the light fixture on the ceiling of the darkened bedroom.
“Did you read it?” Bob asked.
“No,” Denny whispered. “I thought he was trying to get me to admit I was gay.” He closed his eyes, remembering the cover of the cheap novel his Dad pushed into his face that summer afternoon. “He think he would have killed me if I read that book.”
“He told me I was being stuck up, and accused me of not wanting to read it because I thought I was better than his friend, Carl David.” They were both silent. Then, Denny continued, “While I was eating supper, he punched me on the side of my face. The chair fell over and I was on the floor, the plate of food fell on me, so I was covered with black-eyed peas.” Bob kissed him again. “He pulled me outside by my arm, dragging me on the ground. Then, he threw me against the apple tree by the house.” Bob began to caress the young man’s arm. “Then, he pulled me to the back yard and kicked me.”
“What did you do?” Bob asked.
“I couldn’t do anything,” Denny responded. “He told me that this wasn’t my home anymore and told me to leave. He didn’t want to see me again.”
Bob reached around him with both arms, kissing his face, his neck, and his eyes. “Nobody will ever treat you like that again,” he whispered. “Nobody,” he continued, kissing him, and whispering. “I won’t let them.”
That January night in Hazelwood, Missouri, just north of St. Louis, was Bob and Denny’s first date. Denny arrived from the little apartment where he lived with Naomi. It was Denny’s first date with anyone. When he arrived, Bob’s apartment was steamy from cooking. The door was unlocked. Bob shouted for him to come on in. Denny was sitting at the dining room table when Bob walked out of the bedroom wearing a Brooks Brothers button down collared shirt.
Mozart played from the stereo. Denny looked around at modern furniture, paintings on the wall, at the shelves of books Bob read. This was the world as it should be. He yearned to learn about the world outside of Northern Mississippi. In movies he saw parents loving their children. On TV he saw people being civil to each other. It was that world, mainstream culture, the world portrayed in movies and TV shows he wanted to escape to. It was there he would find healing. It was the world Bob inhabited.
He saw decorative tiles hanging on the wall, one of St. George and the Dragon. He did not understand the meaning of this painting to his young life. He did not understand that Bob was St. George; that Bob would slay that dragon, the dragon of self-hatred, the dragon of fear, the dragon of failure.
“Where did you run away to?” Bob asked, kissing Denny on the forehead.
His voice growing quieter, he responded, “It was night time, and I was scared he would come looking for me, so I went through the woods.”
“You ran away through the woods at night?”
“Yeah,” Denny answered. “I could see the shapes of bushes, and trees. I fell a few times, but I ended up on another blacktop road.”
“What did you do?”
“I walked to Saltillo,” Denny responded.
“Was that a long walk?”
“I don’t know, a few hours,” Denny said.
“I walked to the back of a Baptist church in Saltillo, close to the woods, and slept there. I woke up with ants crawling on me the next day.”
“Where did you go then?” Bob asked, caressing Denny’s forehead.
“One of Daddy’s friends knew where I was.” Denny turned and looked into Bob’s face. “I don’t know how Jerry knew, he wouldn’t tell me. But, he drove me to my Mamaw’s house, and she kept me for about a month.”
“How did he know?” Bob asked himself, looking at the ceiling.
Earlier, after a dinner of coq au vin, an exotic dish for Denny, he and Bob cuddled listening to music. Denny was full of questions. Bob played a D’oyly Carte recording of HMS Pinafore, explaining the witticisms; the history of the time period. Denny absorbed the information hungrily, asking questions. They talked of Oscar Wilde, of Mozart’s symphonies, of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, all the while kissing and holding each other. Bob, a school teacher, was delighted by Denny’s inquisitiveness.
“When did you come to St. Louis?” Bob asked him.
“I moved here with Naomi, back in August,” he looked down at the floor with embarrassment. “We were going to get married.”
Bob couldn’t refrain from chuckling. “Why did you want to marry her?”
“She told me she was in love with me, and when I reminded her that I was not attracted to women, she cried.”
“So, you thought you had to marry her?” Bob asked smiling.
“I guess so,” Denny responded, looking at the steel and glass coffee table in front of them. He rested his head on Bob’s shoulder, as they talked.
“She is Jewish?” Bob asked.
Denny nodded affirmatively. “I went with her to her temple once.”
“Shaare Emeth, in University City.”
“Oh,” Bob nodded, “I grew up near there, on Delmar.”
“It was before the presidential election.” Denny looked at Bob smiling. “It was so funny.” Bob slid his fingers between Denny’s fingers. “The Rabbi was talking about the election, and told the congregation that the choices were so bad, between a Republican and a Baptist,” Bob nodded, caressing Denny’s hair, “He told his congregation not to vote.” Bob raised his eyebrows with surprise. “The congregation started yelling curse words, and obscenities at him. They were so mad!”
“Had you ever seen anything like that?” Bob asked.
“No, back in Mississippi, nobody would EVER cuss at their preacher during a service.” He sat upright on the sofa. Bob turned his body around, sitting up as well.
“I guess you knew you were not in Mississippi anymore,” Bob laughed.
“Thank God!” Denny responded. “I have finally come to civilization.” He looked at Bob.
“Want another glass of wine?” Bob asked him. Denny nodded.
“I could never live in Mississippi again,” Denny offered.
“You know, St. Louis is called the Gateway to the West,” Bob said. Denny nodded again. “It looks like for you, St. Louis has been a kind of Gateway.” Bob stood, and walked towards the kitchen to refill their wine glasses. “Your Gateway to the World; the real world; the Gateway to Truth.”
Batresh slept in her room at the dormitory. A short distance to the east was a large park with a golf course, an Art Museum, and a wooded area complete with leafless, wintering trees. Her dreaming mind swam with images from childhood. She dreamt of a Sekhem with paved streets, modern buildings, and automobiles. She walked down a sidewalk in this imagined city. Ahead of her, wearing only a loin cloth, was her beloved Amun. He was walking away from her. She ran to catch up to him. It was hard to run, as if she moved through molasses; she was barely able to move her arms and legs. She struggled, finally, catching up to him. She called his name, but he did not hear her. She called him again. She touched his shoulder and he turned around. She was horrified to see that it was not Amun at all, but a Tlaloc. The shock of seeing Amun changed to a Tlaloc, caused her to awaken. As she regained consciousness, she heard a woman’s voice, whispering. Opening her eyes, she saw a middle-aged woman with gray hair leaning over her. Like a projection, she was semitransparent. The woman looked at her with wonder, as if she didn’t know why she was here, or who Batresh was. As Batresh awoke more fully, the image dissolved. She sat up in bed, not sure if she had been dreaming or if she had actually seen an apparition.
She clicked on the lamp and looked around the room; orange, plastered walls, a large window, green linoleum. The woman was gone, if she had been there at all. It was 4:00 AM. She swung her legs out of bed and sat up. She was shaking, unnerved from the dream and the vision. She closed her eyes and prayed to calm down. She looked out the window, facing south. She remembered hearing several singers say that they lived in South St. Louis. Someone mentioned there were apartments for rent there. She would look later in the morning.
She saw it was snowing. The parking lot was wet and shiny. She turned, walking over to the dresser to her suitcase. She opened it, and slid back the panel, and commanded, “Show me Denny.” Immediately, a display appeared above the panel and resolved into a darkened image of a double bed, in which a young woman and Denny slept. “This must be the woman he came here with,” she thought to herself. They were sleeping. Clothes were strewn about. The street light, near the window cast a sterile, pale light through slats in Venetian blinds. She terminated the display and went back to bed. As she fell asleep, she wondered how the Tlalocs would function when in winter.
The next morning, she saw Sister Ahatu standing outside talking to a student. She went outside. It was warm, there was no trace of snow anywhere. Nevertheless, Sister Ahatu wore a thick winter coat. She nodded as she approached them.
“Miriam,” Sister Ahatu greeted her. “I would like you to meet Maude, she is studying theology with Dr. Duncan.”
Batresh nodded, “I am happy to meet you,” she responded. She turned to the old nun and asked, “I don’t see the Jaguar here. Is there another car I can take?”
“I’m sure Maude wouldn’t mind driving you,” the Sister responded, looking at the young woman.
“I would be happy to,” Maude responded cheerfully.
“I think I will look for an apartment. That may take all day,” Batresh responded.
“Why don’t you stay here with us?” Sister Ahatu repeated her invitation. Then, looking at the young woman, she continued, “Maude likes it here, don’t you sweetie?”
Maude looked up as if she were going to roll her eyes, but then stopped herself. “Not a lot of action around here,” she stated flatly.
“Don’t be so cynical,” the nun scolded. “You are too young.”
Maude looked at Batresh with exaggerated weariness and offered, “There’s a station wagon available right now, if you want it.”
Batresh drew her eyes together, trying to think of what a station wagon could be.
Maude sighed and pointed to a large vehicle just a few meters from them. “Where are you from anyway?” she asked.
Batresh looked at Sister Ahatu with confusion.
The sister sighed and turned to Maude, “Go get the keys for her,” she ordered.
Batresh wore a brown leather jacket with a belt and two slanted zippers that were only decorative. She put on black boots that reminded her of her environmental suit, and a gray skirt. She was accustomed to driving large vehicles, having only recently been in the early 1960s. Looking to her right, she saw the park. The trees grew thickly. It seemed more like a forest than a park. There were stately homes on the other side of Lindell Boulevard This must have been a wealthy area at one time. To the right, she saw an apartment building with windows curving outwards. Crossing over Kingshighway, she found a parking spot on Lindell.
She walked back to Euclid. She saw more people on the street. Looking left and right there were signs of commercial businesses. But, to the right were more people. The sidewalk was badly damaged by thick roots, pushing slabs of concrete upwards at various angles. There was an empty lot to her right, where she imagined a mansion once sat. The trees lining the street were too large now, their roots destroying the sidewalk and splitting the pavement. She carefully made her way over the uneven and crumbling rectangles of concrete. To her left was a large house that had not been maintained for decades. It was empty. She saw automobiles were smaller than they were in the 1960s. She walked southward, past a hotel to her right, a dry cleaner, and a drug store. Then, she saw a restaurant, The Majestic. Through the large windows she saw mostly men sitting inside. She thought she would have some breakfast. She thought the men would turn to look at her, being only one of three women here. But, they hardly noted her enter. A short Greek woman gestured to an empty booth.
The two waitresses were busy, signaling their customers with gestures. The Greek woman who invited her to sit pointed to a coffee pot she had raised with her other hand, looking at Batresh questioningly. Batresh nodded yes. The waitress stopped and chatted with a table of portly, middle-aged men. They burst into laughter. She gave them a knowing look and a smile, and then rushed into the kitchen. The other waitress sped around the small dining room with the pot of coffee. The breathless Greek waitress appeared suddenly at Batresh’s table, with beads of perspiration above her lips. She had a pad and pen in hand, looking determinedly at Batresh. But, Batresh had no menu. She quickly looked around and saw eggs and meat on white, scratched plates. “I’ll have that,” she said, pointing to the young man’s plate, sitting at the table next to her. The waitress nodded, and hurried on to the kitchen.
“She’s a whirling dervish today,” the young man told Batresh. He was wearing a tight T-shirt and leather jacket. Batresh nodded. She couldn’t help but notice that the young man showed no signs of sexual attraction towards her. She was puzzled. In Tupelo, almost every man she met seemed to communicate sexual desire towards her in some way. Perhaps it was the way she was dressed. The waitress came by and quickly put down a cup of coffee, a metal container of milk, and a small glass of water. The coffee spilled a little puddle on the table. The man who spoke to her laughed and offered a paper napkin. Batresh smiled back at him. Then, without asking or speaking, he simply took his coffee and breakfast plate, and moved over to her table; looking into her face openly. “I haven’t seen you here before,” he stated.
Batresh shook her head, looking into his face. He was young, no more than 21. “I haven’t been here before,” she offered.
“What made you want to come have breakfast with a bunch of Queens?” he asked, teasingly.
She looked around the room. There were no Queens here, she thought to herself. Only men, and in a poor neighborhood at that. Why would a Queen come to this place? She looked back at the young man with confusion.
“You really are a newbie, aren’t you?” he laughed.
She wondered whether the language had changed so much that she no longer had facility in it. So, she only looked at him with wonder. The waitress came by, and almost slung her plate of eggs and bacon onto the table in front of her. Batresh was startled.
“You have to look over her,” he said again, trying to get Batresh to respond in some way; then, he shouted so that the waitress would hear him, “We only come here to be insulted!”
The waitress, already on the other side of the room, shouted back, “If you come to be insulted, then you come to dee right place.” She spoke with a thick Greek accent. This comment brought a burst of laughter from the men in the restaurant.
Batresh lifted her fork, but noticed the young man was not going to allow her to ignore him. He had a big, teasing smile on his face. She knew those eyes; the way he formed words was familiar to her - his gestures. Then, without realizing it, she had a moment of recognition. She knew him. Or rather, she knew his spirit. Surely, this could not be a coincidence. She marveled at the Seven Hathors, and their ability to know where and when to place spirits; the inner cores of energy. Why did they send him here? she thought to herself. Did they send him here to work with me? She looked to her left, out the window at a car stopping at a four way stop sign. Then, she looked back into his face.
She put her fork down, and responded, “Are you speaking English to me?” She returned his mischievous smile and took a sip of coffee.
“OK, OK,” he began, “I’ll be gentle with you.” He put his fork into his eggs and took a bite. “Where are you from anyway?” he looked to his right at some of the men laughing and talking. “…Ladue?”
She smiled mischievously and responded, “I am from a star system just a little more than 65 light years from here.”
“Ooooh, touché!” he responded, not realizing she was being truthful.
“You know,” she said, as she put a small forkful of eggs in her mouth. She chewed slowly, to increase his curiosity. “I don’t normally tell a man I just met, where I am from.” Now, she smiled mischievously.
“Oh honey!” he exclaimed laughing. “I am just a small-town girl, like you.” Batresh must have looked confused, because he put his chin in his hands, batted his eyes mockingly, and moved closer to her, “So, you can tell me EVERYTHING.”
Now, Batresh could no longer restrain herself, but laughed openly.
“Actually, I AM new here,” she said, putting a piece of bacon in her mouth.
“mmmm hmmm,” he continued.
“Perhaps you can help me,” she offered.
“It’ll cost ya,” he responded. She was so familiar with his playfulness. She felt grateful to the Seven for placing him here; obviously to help her. She was certain his was the spirit of her beloved Vizier of Sekhem, Rekhmire.
She looked back at him. “I am looking for an apartment.”
He put a piece of bacon in his mouth.
“I’m looking for something quaint, stylish, but not too expensive,” she added.
“You are talking about an apartment, right?” he laughed. “Because I am all those things.” he smiled then, “Why just last night…”
She interrupted him, “Do you have any ideas?”
“Well, yes,” he said. “But, we are strangers. How do I know I can trust you?” He took a sip of his coffee, smiling at his new partner in mischief.
“Miriam Kaplan,” she said, extending her hand to him.
“David Lumpkin,” he responded, taking her hand in his. “I don’t see a ring on that finger,” he continued.
Again, she was lost. She looked at him with curiosity. “Don’t you want to know what I charge?” He added.
She removed her hand from his, and took another sip of coffee.
“If you don’t have at least a boyfriend, I’m afraid the deal’s off.” He asserted.
She only looked at him, while chewing a bit of buttered toast.
“You will have to tell me all the juicy details of your relationship, that is my payment” he looked at her slyly. “But, you don’t have a man.”
“OK,” she offered, “I will sign a promissory note, and vow to give you details when I find a man.”
“Hmmmm,” he responded. “I’m taking a big risk.” He looked out the window to his right, then back into her face. “OK, deal.” He extended his hand to her. Not knowing this custom, she brought her hand up to his. He took her hand and shook it as if he were making her acquaintance.
“I don’t have a car yet.” She stated flatly, playing his game.
“Ooooh,” he groaned mockingly, while beaming at her with happiness. “You mean I have to drive you around too?”
She smiled at him affectionately. “I am using a big, ugly station wagon. Maybe you can help me find a car, and an apartment!”
Suddenly, he looked excited, and clapped his hands together, “Goodie, goodie.” He took a sip of his coffee, not removing his gaze from her, “When do we start? Today?”
David paid for her breakfast, “Well, I have to lavish you with gifts, so you let me decorate your apartment,” he teased her.
They found a newspaper at the restaurant and located three apartments. The one she liked most was located in a neighborhood called, Lafayette Square. There were houses there from the 19th century, some crumbling, but some that were restored. A group of century old houses with Mansard roofs, arched windows and doors, and brightly painted exteriors looked promising. One of the houses had an upper floor that was for rent.
She tried to pay attention to the route he took to learn this city. It was a lot bigger than Tupelo. After a short time, she gave up. Finally, he drove onto a wide highway. She wondered at the complex layout of streets. How would she ever remember how to get from one place to another? Thinking of driving on these wide highways frightened her. They took an exit from the highway to Jefferson Avenue, turned right on Lafayette, then suddenly they were there.
Batresh was nervous. “Maybe we should have called first.” She stated.
“Naaaah, come’on, I’ll handle them.” He responded. She waited for him to come around and open the door for her, as Jerry had always done in Mississippi, but David simply began walking up the side walk to the house. She opened the car door herself and followed him. He rang the bottom doorbell by the time she caught up with him. They stood there together. This house was painted blue and had an arched doorway. David rang the doorbell again. She looked around at the yard, she saw evidence of flowers, now brown and dormant. She turned and looked behind her at the park. It was manicured, although she knew she could not see much in the winter. There were clumps of trees, and meandering sidewalks. Then, she heard the door of the house open.
At the door was a short, elderly woman who spoke in an accent Batresh could not identify. “We have come to look at the apartment,” David told her.
The old woman looked down at the sidewalk, then at David. She ignored Batresh. “Are you married?” she asked.
David laughed, “No Ma’am,” he turned and looked at Batresh. “My friend Miriam here, is looking for an apartment. She is a student at Wash U.” He turned and looked at the woman again. “She just arrived from the hinterlands.”
The woman looked annoyed. “From where?” Then, she looked at Batresh. “Can she talk?” the old woman asked.
Batresh walked up to her and extended her hand. “I’m sorry,” she looked at David scoldingly, “I don’t quite know the streets and highways around here, and my friend is driving me around.” The old woman took Batresh’s hand. She continued, “I’m Miriam Kaplan.”
“Ah,” the old woman said, looking into Batresh’s face, “…a Jew!”
Batresh looked concerned, “Is that a problem?”
“Oh no,” the woman began to turn to the stairway leading upstairs, “At least you can pay the rent,” Batresh looked at David questioningly. David blushed deeply. “Come on upstairs.”
The woman made her way up the stairs to the second floor. Batresh and David followed her. Once reaching the landing, the woman felt in her apron pocket for keys. She was grunting and breathing heavily. “Ah,” she groaned, and brought a key to the lock under the doorknob. She opened the door into a freshly painted room with shiny, varnished wood floors. She walked in. “It’s the whole floor,” she pointed down a hallway, “…two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.”
David walked in, examining details. “I like this color,” he turned to Batresh, “What is it? Sage?”
“Green,” the old woman corrected emphatically.
David pouted and turned. Batresh followed behind him. The bedrooms were clean and freshly painted. One was small and the other much larger. “I can use the small bedroom as an office,” Batresh said.
“Smart girl!” David responded.
David went into the bathroom and gasped. Batresh hurried in, afraid he had hurt himself. “Real, 1950s, pink and green tiles!” He sounded as if he were going to weep with excitement. Batresh did not get the reference.
“I’ll take it!” Batresh told him.
“What?” he responded. “Oh no you won’t… not yet! We have more apartments to look at today.”
“But, I like this one,” Batresh looked at him with concern.
“You’ll take what I tell you to take!” He ordered, mockingly. She had a moment of recognition again; familiarity, bordering on insolence, but combined with trust, a deep level of trust. She felt affection for him, the affection for an old, dear friend.
The old woman was making her way back to the entrance to the apartment.
“She will call you tomorrow,” David said to the woman.
“I hope it will still be available,” she responded.
Batresh looked at David with irritation. “I will call you this afternoon,” Batresh corrected.
They both walked out of the apartment and descended the stairway. “You have got this dominatrix thing down,” he said laughing… “On to Arsenal...” he commanded, referring to Arsenal Street.
They got in his car, “Remember,” Batresh said, “I have to buy a car too.”
David sighed and looked at her, “You are SOOOOOOOO demanding!” he laughed. Even though he could not remember her as he lived this life, she wondered if he sensed their former, friendship at Sekhem.
A short time later, they were pulling up across the street from a row of houses that faced Tower Grove Park. “Isn’t the park devine?” David asserted.
“It looks lovely,” Batresh said, beginning to grow weary of his constant, albeit familiar, desire to entertain.
They took a look at the bottom floor apartment. The hardwood floors were scuffed, the wallpaper was old and stained. The only redeeming quality was the park across the street. Disappointed, they both thanked the aproned woman who showed them the apartment and walked onto the porch. Batresh looked across the street towards the park. She saw someone jogging down a pathway in the distance. “I just love those gazebos,” David offered, looking towards a curving copper roofed structure in the near distance. “You know, they used to hold band concerts there.” Batresh admired the red painted columns supporting the weathered roof.
“Now, to Soulard,” he stated. Batresh sighed and looked at him as he drove. He continued ahead as if he knew exactly where to go.
“Are you from St. Louis?” Batresh asked him.
He nodded but kept his eyes on the street ahead of them. “I grew up in the county.” He looked at her and could tell she didn’t understand. “That means the suburbs,” he laughed, looking back at the road. “But, I just finished a master’s program in Chicago.”
Batresh looked ahead of her, wishing she had insisted on taking the first apartment. “What did you study?” she asked.
“Piano,” he responded.
She knew of this instrument. In the memories implanted by downloads were many voice lessons, with various coaches in different cities. The instructors all played the piano during vocal exercises.
“Will you play for me, sometimes?”
“It’ll cost ya!” He responded, then looked at her guiltily. “Sorry, I know, I should get off the stage now.” He continued driving to an area where the streets were paved with brick cobblestone, rather than with asphalt. He parked, and they walked up to the house. There was no doorbell, so he knocked. Batresh could see her breath now. It was getting cooler. They stood there for a minute or two, and he knocked again. “You know, there is an open-air market near here.”
The door opened, and an older man, with no shirt stood there. David began, “We are here to see the apartment.” Then, Batresh and David could smell an odor of unwashed humans and urine.
The old man turned around and yelled into the house, “Dorthee?” He turned away from them, facing a stairway that led upstairs. “Dorthee?” he yelled again.
David looked at Batresh, feigning fear. Apparently, Dorthee appeared at the top of the stairs. The old, shirtless man continued, “These two kids wanna see the apartment.”
They didn’t hear her say anything, but, the man turned back to them, sighed, licked the lips surrounding his toothless mouth, and stated, “Come on in then.”
David hesitated, but, Batresh walked on in.
“Ya’ll married?” he asked.
Batresh answered, “No.” David shook his head negatively.
“Well, we are Christians here,” he looked at them disapprovingly. Batresh saw a cross, wrapped in cobwebs above the open door leading to the room the old man had just left. “We don’t allow no shackin’ here!” He continued.
We are just friends, “Batresh continued, as she began to walk up the stairs. She could smell urine, and there was another unpleasant odor she couldn’t quite place. She wanted to turn around and leave the house. But, she thought to herself mischievously, that she would make David walk through this unpleasant house, as punishment for not allowing her to take the first apartment. She ascended the stairs, feeling the soles of her shoes, sticking to linoleum that was torn, stained, and curling. She hesitated to put her hands on the railing. She glanced back at David, to see that he held his hand over his face, trying to dilute the smell he breathed in.
“Come on in,” they heard a woman at the top of the stairs tell them. Batresh reached the top and turned to the right. There, a middle-aged woman, wearing a bright yellow tank top and jeans stood in a small living room. The afternoon sunlight streamed through dusty, stained windows. Batresh looked into the woman’s face. She wore a foundation that was a few shades darker than her skin, blue eyeshadow, orange rouge, and red lipstick. Batresh could smell vinegar. The woman had been wiping the surfaces in this room with it. Several house flies flew around, feasting on the chemical. David came into the room behind Batresh. The woman continued, “They’s one bedroom, and a bathroom. The kitchen ain’t ready yet.”
Batresh nodded her head. David interjected, “Thank you so much. I think we have seen enough.” He took Batresh’s hand. “We will call you later when we’ve made a decision.”
Batresh smiled at him gleefully, happy to have annoyed him. David brought his hand back over his face and led her to the stairway. Once there, he moved his face close to hers and whispered, “I’m going to throw up.” Batresh laughed, as they descended.
After they left the house, David looked at Batresh squarely in the face, “I need a drink. And, I think you do too.” Batresh was silent, she was growing tired and annoyed. It was afternoon now, and she didn’t feel like looking for a car. “Let’s go to Herbie’s.” He backed out of the parking space and turned the car. “How will I ever get that stench out of my nostrils?”
Batresh was not looking at him or speaking. He turned on the radio. A man with a very low voice was talking with a saxophone playing in the background, saying “Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.”
“I love this song,” David said, tired of being the entertainer all day himself. “I’m sorry,” he looked at Batresh.
She looked back at him and gave him a weary smile.
“I have this effect on people.” Batresh smiled and looked out the window. It was midafternoon, traffic was increasing. “I’ll be good, I promise.”
“I’ll bet you like classical music, don’t you?” he suggested. Batresh didn’t really know what he meant. He switched the radio station where an orchestral piece was playing. “I bet you like this.”
Batresh noted mathematical rhythms and intervals. She enjoyed the convoluted patterns, repeated, turned upside down, and rearranged. She closed her eyes and must have fallen asleep. She awoke when David switched off the car. He leaned over to her, very close and whispered, “Let’s have one little drink, then I will take you back to the Chase.”
The sky was beginning to cloud over. The air was even colder now. They walked across the street, and down a sidewalk, saying nothing. Batresh pulled her jacket tightly over her chest, trying to stay warm. She noticed a wig shop across the street. The painted, chipped-plaster heads wigs wearing blonde and brunette wigs were attached to unrealistically long necks. David opened a shiny, gray door, with a crescent moon shaped window. Inside was a small vestibule. A blonde woman wearing a tailored blue suit greeted them. Beside her sat another woman, wearing a tight black leather jacket and skirt. She sat, cross legged in an art-deco, fan backed chair. The seated woman stood, “Welcome back, David.” She kissed him on each cheek in the European manner.
“This is my new friend, Miriam,” David said.
The blonde woman shook her hand gracefully, “I’m Adelaid, Welcome to Herbie’s.”
They walked on inside the club. Across from them was a gray, curved bar, dimly lit from above, Patrons nurtured drinks resting on a green glass surface, lit from beneath. Five men and one woman sat at the bar, smoking cigarettes in a manner Batresh remembered from downloads. She saw memories of movies; Bette Davis smoking; holding a long cigarette in a gloved hand.
David pulled her to the bar. He leaned his left arm on the glass surface and looked into her face. “Will you ever forgive me for that last apartment?”
Batresh looked to the right, then back at David, “I will try,” she smiled.
The bartender, a handsome, tanned man with a blonde, closely trimmed beard approached them. “What can I do for you?” he asked David.
“You know what you can do for me,” David smiled and blushed. But, in the meantime, we will have a bottle of champagne, the good stuff.”
“Shall I bring it to your table?” the bartender asked, smiling, apparently entertained by David’s flirtatious manner.
Batresh looked around. At the front of the club, facing Maryland Avenue, was a bank of seats, covered with gray velour. Small round, chrome tables were placed in front of the bank of seats. At the tables, were also small, white and green rattan chairs. Two male couples sat at tables, drinking and smoking. She saw a gray and white, marble stairway that led upstairs to a dance floor. On the outer side of the stair way, was a chrome railing with geometric patterns. David took her left hand and led her back to the restaurant portion of the club. They walked up a couple of steps, to a carpeted area. She remembered seeing the lighted, 19th century paintings of men from the street yesterday. David sat down on a benched seat. She sat across from him. “We might as well have an early dinner. How does that sound?”
Batresh nodded affirmatively. David stretched out his hands on the table in front of him. “So what brings you to St. Louis, from such a distant star system?” he joked.
She reached her hands out towards him, placing them on top of his. “I’ll tell you one day,” she replied with a smile both knowing and intense. She sent him an image of Denny from the rehearsal the night before.
David quickly withdrew his hands. He gasped, and moved away from her, against the back of the bench seat. “What,” he tried to speak. “What was that?” He seemed to know that the image came from her.
Batresh drew in a breath deeply and looked through the large, plate glass windows to her right. “The young man I am here to protect.”
David placed his hands on the seat, as if he was going to get up. His instinct was to stand, turn, and leave, right now.
“You asked,” Batresh offered.
“How did you…” he began, realizing he couldn’t leave, not without knowing what was happening.
Thinking of how it felt to receive the message, he recalled the image again. It seemed to be a short film clip, of a young man, sitting on, “…the stage of Powell Hall?” he asked incredulously.
“So, you know that building?” she responded, looking into his face. Now, she sent him a few words, telling him, “I can send words and images to you, but you can’t send them back to me.”
He sat there, looking into her blue eyes, asking himself whether this was really happening. He realized he was holding his breath. He let out a big sigh, and breathed in deeply, as if he was underwater and would have to hold his breath again.
Batresh leaned forward, reaching her fingers towards him. She sent another message, “You don’t have to be afraid.” She said, trying to be comforting. “Take my hand,” she told him.
Hesitantly, slowly, he reached his hand forward. She took his hand gently in her own. Now, she spoke aloud. “You have told me a lot about yourself,” she began. “I trust you, I know you,” she continued. She sighed again; a sigh of wisdom, “I know you better than you can expect.”
Tears rose to David’s eyes. He was stunned. He looked around to see if anyone else was witnessing what he was experiencing. But, why? Why were these images, and this woman’s words, and her messages bringing tears to his eyes? What was happening?
Batresh held onto his hand, gently. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “Don’t worry.” She stroked his hand with her own. “Everything is OK.”
A waitress walked up to their table, holding a silver bucket of ice. In her other hand, she held a bottle of champagne. She brought the bottle of champagne to David, so he could approve. As he looked up at her, a tear spilled from his left eye onto his cheek.
“Is everything OK?” the waitress asked.
“Everything is just fine,” Batresh said softly; comfortingly. “Everything is just fine.”
The waitress, young, and somewhat masculine, with her black hair tied behind her head, placed a white cloth napkin over the top of the bottle of champagne, and began to twist the cork. They heard a “pouf” and she withdrew the napkin and cork, pouring a small portion of the clear, bubbling liquid into the glass in front of David. He, with his hands in Batresh’s hands, was not aware of what was happening. He realized he was waiting for another message from her; from Batresh.
“Sir?” the young woman asked.
David looked up at her. He was far way, Batresh sent him comforting messages, telling him not to worry, telling him that he was good, telling him that everything will be OK. He felt as if he was dreaming.
“Sir?” the young woman asked again.
Finally, he realized she was waiting for him. He whispered, “Just pour.”
The waitress placed the bottle within the bucket of ice on the table, turned and walked away.
David reached over and took the bottle of champagne, filling his glass completely. Then, he took the glass in his hand, and drank it all in one gulp.
Batresh began to chuckle. “I’ll explain things to you,” she paused, then added, “slowly.” She smiled at him mischievously. “You will need time to adjust.” She took the glass of champagne in front of her, and clinked it against his. “Cheers!” she offered. Then, she took her handbag, and prepared to stand, “I am going to call the landlord at the first apartment we saw today.”
“There’s a pay phone at the top of the stairs,” he whispered. “I’ll order a second bottle.”
Batresh stood, wondering whether she’d done the right thing. She clearly recognized him, his spirit at least. She was amazed that he was here, at this place, at this time. She shook her head with wonder. The Seven Hathors were amazing. They saw into the future, they knew where to place the spirits, the cores, of those who passed. She didn’t understand, but she knew it was arranged. It must be the increasing amounts of Tayamni DNA appearing in humans that allowed them to do this. She stepped down onto the main level of the club and looked towards the stairway. She could see through the windows at the front of the club, that the sun was lower in the sky. The day was fading. More people were here now, having drinks, waiting for dinner companions. She reached the stairway and looked up. There, descending the stairway was a tall, thin, young man who could have easily stood in for Joan Crawford in her early years. He held a long, pink cigarette, in an even longer cigarette holder. He wore flared tan trousers and a beige shirt with a large collar, but he could as well have been wearing a satin gown from the 1920s. He saw her and looked away, regarding the other customers at the bar as if they were his audience, or his subjects, she thought, smiling. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, allowing him to glide past her. I must know him, she said to herself smiling. Then, she turned, and ascended the stairway, making her way to the pay-telephone.
When she returned to their table, she saw David ordering another bottle of champagne from the waitress. “I think I just saw a film star from the 30s,” she offered.
David looked at her and pressed his lips together, “Oh, you saw Victor,” he responded.
She turned to look behind her, to see if she could still see him. “I called the landlord; the apartment was taken.”
“So, who are you, anyway?” he managed to blurt out.
“You’ll see,” she responded, “Who is Victor?”
“Oh,” David answered, “She’s a mess!”
Batresh could see there was a history between them. She looked up as the waitress brought over dinner menus.
“Our special tonight is boeuf tournedos,” the waitress began, “served with a red wine and mustard sauce,” Batresh looked into David’s eyes as the waitress continued describing the evening’s specials. She saw him look at her with fear.
The Vizier of Sekhem
The waitress took their dinner order and went back to the kitchen. David felt like he was having a panic attack. He wanted to leave. But, he stayed, even though he was sitting as far away from Batresh as he could. He was pushing himself against the back of the bench seat. “Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked.
Batresh noticed that someone was standing at their table. Looking up, she saw it was the apparition of the 1930s film star she saw earlier, Victor. “Gimme a cigarette doll,” David said to Victor.
“I didn’t know you smoked,” Victor responded, in a nasal, high pitched voice. He reached into the handbag hanging at his shoulder and withdrew a chromed cigarette holder. It opened with a soft click, and he withdrew a long, powder pink cigarette with a gold foil filter.
“I don’t,” David responded, as he took the cigarette from Victor. Their new guest leaned over the table, and flicked a matching chromed cigarette lighter. “Have you met Miriam?” David asked Victor, as he inhaled the cigarette smoke.
“Why no, I haven’t,” Victor responded, with an artificial formality. He bent at the waist, and took Batresh’s right hand in his, bringing it to his lips, as if to kiss it. He brought her hand to within an inch of his lips and made a kissing sound. Then, he returned her hand. “Enchanted,” he continued.
At that moment, Batresh sent David a command, telepathically, warning him not to tell anyone what she revealed to him. David’s eyes widened.
“Are you having dinner?” Victor asked.
Batresh looked up at Victor and noticed the stain of foundation on the inside of his wide collar. “Yes, we are, she responded.” David still looked at her, his eyes still open large. He seemed to be frozen mid-gesture. “Would you like to join us?
Victor looked at the loose, art-deco women’s wrist watch on his arm, and responded, “My last bus leaves in just a few minutes, I had better go, or one of you will have to drive me home.”
Batresh looked at David, who still seemed unable to move. Victor sighed, “I see, my Prince Charming is not here tonight.” He smiled, turned and began to walk away, but then turned back to them, “I turn into a pumpkin in exactly ten minutes.”
Batresh sent David another message, telling him not to be afraid. Then, she reached her hand over his gently. “I will not hurt you.”
“Why do I get the feeling you are used to issuing commands, and being obeyed?”
Batresh stifled a laugh, remembering their relationship at Sekhem. “You are very perceptive,” she responded.
David filled his champagne glass and downed another one quickly.
“You are going to get drunk if you keep that up,” she told him.
“That’s the point!” he responded.
She remembered those same gestures, and the same look of surprise in his eyes, when she had forcefully given him a command at Sekhem. It was as if their close friendship had vanished, and he suddenly became her Vizier once again, serving at the whim of the royal family.
“I will tell you more,” she said smiling at him. She felt compassion for him, but also mischievousness at her ability to frighten him. When they were children together at the palace, he teased her mercilessly. As Princess she enjoyed paying him back for all the aggravation he caused her. But, she loved him. It was she who insisted that he be appointed Vizier.
The waitress brought over a dish of bread and softened butter.
“Could you help me choose a car tomorrow?”
“What about the apartment?” he asked.
“The apartment that you lost for me?” she teased, looking into his face with a smile to assure he didn’t feel threatened. She continued, “I might just stay at the dorm.”
“At Wash U?” he asked.
“I’m staying at Fontainebleau,” she responded.
He sat up straighter and leaned in slightly, “How boring!” He tried to regain his previous demeanor. “All women!”
She sighed, feeling both sorry for frightening him, and exasperated with his quips. “Back to purchasing a car,” she stated. “Will you help me find one tomorrow?”
David looked at her, regaining control, “Is that an order?” he asked.
She smiled enjoying teasing her old friend, “You may consider it to be.”
“Yes, your majesty,” David said, trying to assume his former campy manner. Then, he looked at her, with a flash of recognition, as if he was accustomed to calling her Your Majesty. Not wanting to betray these feelings, he reached over and tore off a piece of warm bread. He thought it odd that following her commandments seemed natural.
He took a butter knife from beside his plate and spread butter on the bread. He simply looked at her, and stated, “You already know that I will, don’t you?”
Batresh couldn’t help herself, she threw back her head and laughed. Then, looked into his eyes, “Of course I do,” she responded, feeling the comfort of their old friendship.
David sighed, feeling less afraid. He put a piece of bread in his mouth. “Oh, do you expect me to spread butter on the bread for you too?”
She looked at him with authority and responded, “That isn’t necessary.” She took a piece of bread herself, “We wouldn’t want people to believe that you were beholden to me, now would we?”
David looked at her with fear again, feeling that in some way, he was beholden to her, and that he must obey her. Then, he shook his head, telling himself that this was crazy. Looking at her face again as he chewed another piece of bread, he thought there was something familiar about her. But he couldn’t quite figure it out.
“Have I seen you before today?” he asked.
Batresh withdrew a deep breath, “It was a very long time ago.” She looked to her right, through the plate glass window. She saw a small gray car stopping at the intersection in front of the club. “You would not remember.”
“Try me,” David responded sarcastically.
Batresh sent him another telepathic message, stating, “Do not try me.” She arched her left eyebrow, in the authoritative manner she had used when issuing him an order as Princess. “I will tell you, in time.”
David’s eyes grew large again, and he sat back. At that moment, the waitress delivered their dinner.
“Let’s eat,” Batresh commanded. She had to work to refrain from calling him by his ancient name. She smiled at him confidently.
David narrowed his eyes now, “Why do I feel like a mouse, being played with by a cat with very large claws.”
She looked into his eyes directly, “You don’t know how accurate you are.” She smiled wickedly.
Message from the Matriarch
After dinner and more small talk, Batresh looked at David and thought she would take time to reveal their history. David paid the bill, and Batresh looked up at him, “You may drive me to the car I am using.”
Without saying a word, David stood, and offered his hand. She took it and stood. Now, he offered her his elbow, to escort her to the car. He looked at her, somewhat mournfully, and stated, “You know I can’t have a romantic relationship with you.”
She looked back at him playfully, “Do you think that is what I expect?”
“I have no idea!” he said, opening the passenger side car door for her.
“I am already mated, as you well know,” she responded.
“But, you told me you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
“I don’t,” she looked at him as he shut the car door.
When he entered the car from the driver’s side, he looked at her questioningly, as if he wanted her to continue.
“My Prince is not here now. But, you will meet him.”
David shook his head and quoted a line from a movie, “You sure are one crazy dame!”
He only had to drive a couple of blocks to the parking lot. “What time shall I arrive in the morning, m’Lady?” he asked part obediently and, in part, sarcastically.
“Why don’t you pick me up at 9:00 AM at the Fontainebleau dorms.” She smiled, reached over to him, and kissed him on the cheek. “I do adore you, you know.”
David smiled at her and responded, “That’s comforting.”
As Batresh walked to the station wagon, she felt a vibration in her hand bag. She knew she was receiving a message from either the Lunar Base, or a Temporal Station. Once inside her room, she removed the bracelet from her bag, and put it on her wrist. “Yes?” she responded.
An unfamiliar voice, answered her in the Ancient Kemetic language she had learned as a child. She had never heard anyone use this language to communicate this way. Then, she recognized the voice. It was the Matriarch’s voice, but younger. A display appeared above the bracelet, showing the Matriarch in an environmental suit at the Solar Temporal-Portal. She was delivering a recorded message from a time before she died.
“My daughter,” the message began, “you are now on your second assignment, and have traveled to a time, wisely chosen by the Seven, that will allow me to continue my work. You have, no doubt, discovered, that your sister has been working many years longer than yourself, on more dangerous missions.” The Matriarch paused, looking at workers behind her.
She moved away from the people, looked back at the recorder, and continued, “You know you are twins, you and Namazu. You were created together, at the same ritual, from the same offerings, the same vibrations. But, you diverged as you came into being.” Batresh wondered when she had recorded this message.
Her Matriarch continued, “Namazu is, in some ways, stronger than you. She is a warrior. She can and will defend those she loves with wildness and determination. She will not fail.
“But, she will need you. Being so strong externally will leave an emptiness within her, an emptiness that will fill with loneliness and desperation. Your strength is internal. Your love will help her fill the emptiness that lies within her. And, you will need her strength to protect you. In this way, you are each half of the whole. You need each other for completion. What you lack, she has in abundance. And, what she needs, you are able to give her, from a bottomless well of love and compassion.
Batresh noticed that the Matriarch looked more youthful than she had in the years before she grew ill and realized that this message must have been recorded while Batresh and Namazu were children. The message resumed, “You were created to be my heirs. One day, you will be Matriarch of the Terran Mission, my dear one.”
Batresh looked at her reflection in the rear-view mirror. The Matriarch continued, “Our house, the House of Uanna, was constructed for this purpose. We have always been here, and we always will be here. The purpose for which we were created is to bring humans to genetic Compatibility, allowing them to develop, as much as possible, their own, separate, and unique cultural characteristics.” She stopped and smiled at the recorder, picturing in her mind, her daughter, an adult now, hearing this message. “Their journey will be painful, full of glorious accomplishments, and horrendous failures. But, we will be here, the entire time, to help them, to guide them. To bring them to Compatibility.” Batresh nodded her head, as though her Matriarch were with her, here now, in this behemoth of a vehicle.
“Where ever the Seven have placed me, in which ever body, I will use what I have learned during thousands of years here at Terra. There are many others like me, other Tayamni, who have allowed themselves to die, so that they can pass on to other bodies, at other times, and bring humanity to value the sacred force of Love.” The Matriarch paused and moved to a chair. She sat down and continued, “We will be placed in the bodies of those who are despised at the times they live; those who are considered to be loathsome; those who are oppressed and hated. But, through our actions, and our ability to love in the face of hatred, we will demonstrate the power, the transformative, healing force of sacred Love.” Batresh drew a breath in deeply, thinking of Denny, and his father’s attempt to kill him. “Humans are capable of the highest forms of love we hold to be holy, while at the same time, capable of such incredible cruelty and hatred that you will be horrified.
“You will find, in your early missions, that there are other races who wish to take this system as their own. They will work to destroy everything we have done. They hope to prevent humanity from progressing, so that whichever races come at First Contact to judge us will eliminate humanity. They hope the omnipotent creatures who will arrive at that future time, will view humanity as too corrupted to be salvaged. They will use First Contact as an opportunity to rid the Multiverse of us and our missions; to destroy humanity.
But, our warriors, Tayamni like your sister, will defeat them. We will be successful. We are an older race. Our technologies, and our experience will defeat these enemies. But, it will be challenging. There will be failures. Some of us will die.
Her voice grew quieter, and she moved her face closer to the recorder, “In my next body, I will not know you. I will not remember our sweet family life together. But, there will be a spark of recognition. When I see you, I will, on some level, recognize that I love you and that you are important to me. When that life ends, I will return to you, as I am now, my beloved daughter.
“I encourage you to be strong, to have confidence, to believe in the goodness of humanity. We ourselves were once where humanity is now. Those who we consider to be our Gods brought us to the Compatibility that we now enjoy.
Batresh whispered the word aloud, to herself, “Compatibility.”
Her Matriarch continued, “Humanity will one day be where we are now. They will have missions and strive to bring Love to other races in the Multiverse. This work will continue and continue, without end. All beings will come to know the blessings of Love.
“Until I see you again, my beloved child, take care of your sister. Help her to know she is not alone. Stay beside her. She will need you,” the transmission ended.
Batresh simply sat there, in a station wagon parked on Lindell Boulevard, still looking at the jeweled wrist band. She was stunned. She did not expect to receive a message from her mother. Did Namazu receive a similar message? Where was Namazu now? She had not known that the Matriarch had planned these missions. How many missions would there be? She thought of the image of her Matriarch, younger and healthier than she remembered. She caressed the bracelet, as if it were the mother she missed so desperately. “So,” she whispered to herself, “I will see her again, as she was?” She turned looking at the window, facing north. It was snowing again, and the wind was stronger. She held her braceleted wrist up to her chest, closing her eyes. Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes. Now, she allowed herself to weep. She missed her loving presence, her sweet comforting voice. She missed her sister, who was who knows where? Her beloved mate, Amun. She didn’t even know where he was. Was he safe? Was he fighting an enemy somewhere? She didn’t know where Jerry was. Suddenly, she felt alone, cold, and afraid. But, then, she remembered Denny. “Yes,” she whispered, “yes.” She shifted in the seat, wiping tears from her eyes. She whispered to the wrist band. “Where is Denny?” she asked.
A pale blue display materialized above the suitcase, resolving into an image of Denny, sitting on a sofa with Bob. Above the sofa was a drawing humans at this time would consider to be modernist. It consisted of thick, black curving lines, connecting with each other via horizontal bars, almost like the DNA double helix. Bob was talking, “Queen Victoria herself attended a Gilbert and Sullivan opera,” he held Denny’s left hand in his. “When she realized that they were ridiculing the upper classes, she stood, famously announcing, ‘We are not amused!’ and walked out, with her entourage.” Bob and Denny both laughed. Batresh recognized her mother’s laugh, the way her eyes closed, her crooked smile. Batresh sighed with relief, realizing that she was right here, right now. And, she would see her at rehearsal again in a few days.
Batresh lay in bed. Her eyes were closed, but she kept seeing the image of her younger Matriarch. She wondered why she had been at the Solar Temporal-Portal. And, why was she wearing an environmental suit? How long ago was this message recorded? Had she just brought them as infants, from Mussara? She opened her eyes and saw snow falling outside. The window was large, and it was getting colder. The steam-radiator pinged delicately. Closing her eyes again, she saw David, as he had appeared at dinner tonight. She smiled, remembering that she had almost called him his ancient name, Rekhmire. She imagined him as he appeared now, wearing a mitre, yellow robes, carrying a staff, but sitting at the booth at the restaurant. She laughed softly. She thought she would get up to look out the window to see if the snow was accumulating. She opened her eyes again, and gasped. There, bending over her, was the same middle-aged woman she had seen a few nights before. This time, the apparition was not as transparent. The older woman wore a uniform. Batresh was stunned! It was her Matriarch’s sister, the woman who was executed at Kiev. She sat up in the bed, half expecting the apparition to vanish. But, she did not. She remained there, standing in front of her.
“My Matriarch,” Batresh whispered. Now, the woman, moved closer, and looked at Batresh curiously, as though she were trying to remember something. “You are our Matriarch,” she said. Now, the woman looked at her with astonishment. Her mouth opened, as if she were surprised. Then, she vanished. Batresh sat up in the bed and swung her feet over the edge. She stood and walked to the dresser to the suit case. “Contact the Elders,” she ordered. The display appeared, and an image of a woman in Tayamni clothing materialized. “I have seen the Matriarch,” Batresh offered excitedly.
“Which Matriarch?” the Elder asked. “Is this Batresh?”
“Yes, my Aunt. My mother’s sister, the one the Tlalocs executed.”
“Where?” the Elder asked directly.
“Here, in my dorm room.”
“Have you seen her only once?” the Elder continued.
“I saw her last night as well, but I thought it was a dream.”
“You are her family,” the young elder pressed a disk on the platform in front of her. “It makes sense she would be drawn to you.” The Elder was looking at a corner of her display, apparently communicating with others. “Place sensors around your room. Let us know if you see anything more.” She looked up, above the screen, as if she was communicating with someone standing in front of her. “We will be there tomorrow, since it is the middle of the night for you now.”
Batresh nodded, and the communication ended. The Matriarch was not dead. The Tlaloc weapon had damaged the Taymani core, but not destroyed her. Batresh sighed with relief.
She went back to her bed and sat down. She brought her right hand to her forehead and pushed her hair away from her face. “Two Matriarchs in one night,” she said to herself, remarking on both her mother’s communication, and her Aunt’s appearance on the same night. She sighed and lay back onto the bed. She closed her eyes.
The next morning, she was awakened by the phone on the nightstand next to her bed. “Hello?” she said, wondering who would contact her.
“Your majesty?” David’s voice asked sarcastically.
Batresh sighed, and chuckled, “Yes, Vizier?”
David was silent on the other line for a moment, feeling awkward at having recognized her voice from a time he could not remember.
“I’m standing downstairs with two other women who say they know you.”