The correspondence that followed moved at a snail’s pace over the next several weeks.
They arranged to meet. Obsidian Night left exact instructions. Anthony was to bathe and dress in a suit and tie, use talcum for odor and shave closely the tip of his beard. He was to arrive after evening selah prayers at precisely six p.m. upon the same aisle where the first note was laid. He was to pretend to shop, adding items to his basket and wait for her to arrive.
Anthony followed her instructions implicitly, over compensating with oil to press down his hair and arriving at the Allah Reigns Supreme grocery mart too early while the shutters were pulled and locked and the men scowled and slipped off their shoes and entered the mosques for evening Selah.
All night he seemed to wait. Past the kepsa dinners laid out upon newspaper on the dingy sticky floor. Past the lights in the cellphone store going dim. Then finally, a stroke of luck. One by one a group of nurses in white burqas arrived. One after another like strange floating vanilla cones descending from the hospital bus. Little brown faces seeing through eye hole slits. Darting eyes. Careful eyes. Cautious eyes. Heading to the bakery to smell the day old offering. Tapping eggs on the warm wood bench. Always traveling in twos and threes these little vanilla cones moving in silence through the store.
Anthony waited, averting his glares, feeling desperate. Feeling that hungry bottomless yearning ache a man feels when he is doing what he is born to do but knows it is somehow wrong. One by one they pass and his eyes fell to the floor. Stare too deeply and the woman could be questioned, beaten, condemned. She could be stoned or worse. He tried to stay calm but the excitement overcame him and all at once he noticed he was surrounded. The women in white burqas had suddenly surrounded him, passing by him in silent whispers. Astonishing. Dizzying. He felt something touch him, was it a cane. Then rapidly, as quickly as it had happened they were gone. Hurrying through the check stands with their plastic bags of groceries, back onto the bus, tearing away in a cloud of sand and dust.