The Hundredth Meridian

Jihad on the Rio

On a morning less than a week before the kickoff to Bro. Billy Joe’s Crusade for Souls, AveMaría, after she’d dropped Contracepción off at the mosque, was in the middle of a U-turn in the street when a car rounded the corner ahead on two wheels, heading directly for the Subaru.  As there was nothing to do but sound the horn, AveMaría did so, striking the top of the steering column with the side of her right hand, in which she held an open can of Sprite.  The jet of carbonated liquid blinded her momentarily, so she never saw the car leap the curb and run for a distance along the strip of sidewalk.  By the time her sight cleared, the vehicle had regained and crossed the street and was pulling into the parking lot beside the mosque.  Indignant, AveMaría put the Subaru in reverse and backed it as fast as she dared into the road with the intention of giving the driver a piece of her mind through the window.

The car, an ancient Dodge Dart that was the sun-faded color of a spoiled tomato, looked familiar.  (AveMaría was not given to noticing automobiles especially, unless it was something she thought she’d like to own.)  So did the young man with dark, curly hair and wearing a white T-shirt and tan cargo pants climbing out on the driver’s side.  Why, she thought—it’s Abdul Agha!  But who was the turbaned man emerging from...

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