I lay panting on the silk sheets of the king-sized bed in Dina’s upper room at the Judge. When the laughter and clinking glasses from the barroom were louder than the blood pounding in my ears, I sat up. I heard the stairway creak as folks moved between the bar downstairs and the lounge across the hall from Dina’s rented boudoir.
Dina sat on the edge of the bed smoking, her body turned away from me. I spent some time admiring the curve of her ribs as they disappeared into her breasts. Then I focused on the hollow above her hips.
She turned, and her smile widened into the one I’d seen in the bar. Time for the next scene.
“You seemed to enjoy that.” She ashed into a dish of hammered copper.
“Like you wouldn’t believe. Do humans do that often?”
“If we’re lucky.”
“Then we can do it again?”
“Maybe.” Dina put out her cigarette and blew a stream of smoke toward the door.
“What I don’t get,” I said, “is why Yahweh needs a human son.”
“A human son with a human mother will attract more believers. The more believers, the more power. If Yahweh gets powerful enough, he will crush the other gods and reign supreme. “My problem,” Dina said, “ is that right now I am back up. Plan B.” Dina unwrapped the sheet from around her waist and stood. She stalked back and forth, a caged leopard, worry wrinkling her forehead.
I lay down and watched her. “It’s been days since Lucifer kidnapped Young Mary. I’m sure she’s dead by now, which makes you Plan A.” I grinned and ad-libbed: “Your eggs are the only ones left in Yahweh’s basket.” Dina frowned and shook her head. I shrugged an apology and went back on script. “But once you’ve given him a son, he’ll be done with you.”
Dina leaned over the bed to stub out her cigarette. “He promised me the raising of my son.”
“He’s promised a lot of things to a lot of people.”
“My son will listen to me.”
I sat up again. “Dina, do you think Yahweh good? Egypt could have been bloodless if he’d wanted it that way. But he didn’t. I stood next to him on the shore when he loosed the waves that drowned Pharaoh’s army. Know what he did? He laughed. He watched those men tearing at their armor, thrashing for air, their eyes bursting in terror, and he laughed.” I waited a moment. Dina said nothing. “And, of course, before that, the starvation, the plagues, the killing of the firstborns. None of it had to happen.”
Dina stood still, saying nothing. I’ll remember her like that: her tawny skin, her dark hair full of wild swirls and damp ringlets, her face hidden in shadow as she stood naked with the soft light of the window behind her.
“Dina, have you ever killed an infant? Yahweh killed thousands. That’s who made you your promise.”
“He’d never kill his own son.”
“No, but he might kill you.”
With that, she turned her back to me and jerked her clothes on. She walked out without saying another word, slamming the door behind her and stomping down the stairs to the bar.
I fell backward into the sheets. The scent our two bodies made together billowed up around me like a morning breeze from the ocean: soft, salty, and sweet.
“Run that by me again,” O’Connor said, “without all the bodice ripping. What did she think was going to happen?”
I grinned. “I kinda liked the bodice ripping, myself.”
O’Connor smacked the table with her palm. “You’re pretty damn smug for a guy arrested on manslaughter charges — ”
“Sexist language hurts us all, Detective.”
“You like negligent homicide better? It’s gender-neutral and carries the same prison term. If you shoved her, that’s murder. Since you knew she’d be on the landing, the DA would probably push for premeditated.”
I looked at the floor. My hair flopped into my face. I used both hands to push it back then raised my head.
O’Connor was still glaring at me. “Nine times out of ten, when something bad happens to a woman, it’s the boyfriend, the husband who did it. So, until you convince me otherwise, you’re my guy. And, until we get the toxicology screens on you and Dina back, that long hair and scraggly beard you’ve got reminds me of a lot of scumbags I’ve busted selling dope.”
I tried a smile. “Jesus had long hair.”
“Yeah, well, I seem to remember the Roman cops didn’t treat him so great.”
“Detective, I’m telling the truth. Swear to God.”
Part 4 coming next week…