The Hundredth Meridian

Daughter and Lover

For days after the meeting with Bro. Billy Joe, Héctor was too angry to communicate with his wife other than in monosyllables.  During most of this period, the reason for his anger eluded him.  It was not until the third or fourth day that he understood the cause of his distress. Whether the kid Abdul converted to Christianity or not, Héctor Villa did not want his daughter taking up romantically with an Afghan—period.  And he couldn’t comprehend how AveMaría could want such a thing, let alone act as a facilitator of it.  Though he was angry with the preacher as well, Héctor tried to be fair: The man’s job, after all, was saving souls; AveMaría’s was to see that their daughter was properly brought up to make a suitable marriage, at the appropriate time and with the right sort of man—which, in Héctor’s view, definitely did not include bearded Central Asians in turbans who rode camels and herded goats back home, while covertly keeping Osama bin Laden and his Qaeda supplied with food, weapons, and (so he understood from a reliable source) a steady stream of voluptuous virgins from Pakistan.

Héctor knew enough popular psychology to understand that facilitator is an unpleasant term for a nasty thing.  But he couldn’t think of another word to describe his wife’s behavior in welcoming Abdul in every afternoon,...

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