Writer Thoraiya Dyer has the least organized (though entertaining) author website I’ve ever seen. This story, on the other hand, is not like that.
A warty-nosed old woman stops her car at the side of the road to offer me a lift to Beirut. There is a basket of ripe pomegranates on the passenger seat.
“Ride with me.”
“Aphrodite rides with you already,” I say. “I am no human lover.”
“No,” the warty-nosed woman replies. She takes a pomegranate from the basket and splits it with a small, sharp knife. “You see? It is the church. The juice is the blood of Christ and the flesh is his body. He would not turn you away. Come, into the car.”
I smile. The woman answered the riddle correctly. She moves the basket to make room for me.
Careful not to expose the true form hidden beneath my black robes, I climb into the seat, but I cannot fasten the safety belt without nimble human fingers. The old woman patiently reaches across to fasten it.
“A lifetime since these restraints were introduced,” she chuckles, “and still we do not use them. The Lebanese think they are invincible.”
If her hands find my shape beneath the robes disturbing, she gives no sign.
“These strange deaths,” she continues as she swings the Mercedes back onto the highway. “I wonder if they will continue to spread?”
But she has answered only the first riddle, the riddle that permits her to breathe the air within the temple. She has not answered the third riddle that permits her to ask a question of the sphinx. I say nothing. The old woman might fail if I test her again, and I wish to find the priest quickly.
It will go easier if I am not required to stop her heart.