The story—it was so strange, I hardly believe it myself. It took place in the world between worlds. Perhaps, somewhere in heaven but to my soul it was as hot as hell. Or maybe it took place in hell, but heaven sustained me. I was embraced but hated, loved but sinned against. I loved in return but was rejected. I told the truth but it became a lie. I defended evil and sinned against another. The good seemed evil and evil seemed good.
I had traveled all day. I had started out on the subway, with masses of pushing people, making my way to the edge of the city. I suppressed the wide-eyed stories of people getting robbed there. “They come up to you and take everything and run, they even grab the earrings out of your ears.” I fingered my fake hoops. Costume jewelry. The micro moved along smoothly across extraordinarily beautiful, rugged country, beauty that took your breath away, while the small screened television squeaked out an American movie with translation in white words along the bottom. My head ached from stress and exhaustion. I tried to nap but couldn’t. I tried to pray instead, making out the signs as we traveled.
We arrived at the transfer station. I read the signs. I looked around. I bought flavored water in a bag, drinking it with a straw. I bought another ticket for a smaller, dustier bus. The bus driver spoke to me. I responded. Rural folks got on the bus, carrying bags of groceries and bought goods. I got on the bus. The bus driver offered me a single red rose. I thanked him. I sat in the window seat. I fingered the thorn on the rose. I rearranged my veil about my face, watching in rapt attention. I’d never seen anything quite like it. School kids in uniforms got on the bus and got off again. We arrived at the pueblito: everyone got off. The hot dusty air took your breath away.
Late that night, exhausted from walking the dusty streets, I walked along a road leading to the country. My feet tired and dusty. I hugged my veil about myself as the cool of the night was beginning to chill. Others walked the road with me but one woman with her daughter walked near me. She greeted me. I responded. The compassion in her voice drew me to trust her. She asked me what I was doing. I said I was looking for someone. She stopped at a house to inquire. She invited me to her home. I went with her. Her home was on the far edge of town, down next to a gully. Her home, a large room of peeling paint and cement, with a dirt floor. The stove stood outside along with washtubs and towels hanging in the trees. The donkey was tied to a tree. We sat at her table. I asked who she was. I thought she might be an angel, God's compassion to me. We spoke of faith. Our hearts connected. The TV blared obscenities at us, while I read through her Bible study materials. Her nieces, daughter and other children slept or watched TV in the gigantic bed positioned next to the kitchen table. We spoke way into the night and were startled at the lateness of the hour. She wrapped her shawl about herself, accompanying me to my lodging place in the pitch black of night. I fell asleep, comforted, welcomed, received, listened to—accompanied.
The night was pitch black but our hearts had been warmed. The good wore dusty feet and evil wore a beautiful coat. Right was right and wrong was wrong but for a moment, as the grand charlatan was silenced for a moment. I was sustained by a poor widow, who walked with me along a dusty road one night and became my friend.