Sûrah XXVII
THE ANT
"Must ye needs lust after men instead of women? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly."

27
THE AUNT

Return to her apartment, for Joleena, could have been fatal; worse than fatal when considering Squatman's directive to his thugs: "Find her, cut her balls off, bring the evidence to me, and fetch that fucking A-rab here alive."

AHMED

Come my hotel.

An equally baneful option would have been Ahmed's hospitality, insofar as he was lodged at a flophouse in the Tenderloin—Joleena's former turf, before her 'agent' Bruce, revamped, so to speak, her career.

JOLEENA

How sweet. No, thanks.

The best alternative, short of headlong flight—which might yet prove expedient—was to seek an ersatz sanctuary out in The Avenues.

JOLEENA

Daisy Jane's! Got me a Auntie owns a little house in the Sunset. Auntie dearly loves me. Disapproves, of course, but 'blood be blood'; I know she'll take us in.

The "us" was voiced with an inflection that betokened wishful thinking—if ostensibly one-sided; Ahmed's willingness was 'inferred'. He went along, however (provocateur or witting john unclear) to Jo's delight, to Daisy Jane's irascible disgruntlement.

DAISY JANE

You a Christian?

Ahmed's scowl forever damned him, in the Bible-thumper's eyes. A Southern Baptist, stiff as stays, was Daisy Jane Dubois. She let them in, though—moved to tears by the sorry sight of 'Joey's' so-called "mishap".

AHMED

Is good, this wound.

Was one man's blemish another man's beauty mark? Ahmed's praise reduced the sting. Somewhat. Joleena still recoiled when confronted by her reflection, reacting to the mirror as if it were a cattle prod.

JOLEENA

Dear, oh, dear; I'm Al Capone!

Apart from deadened nerves, discoloration, swelling and a zipper-like seam, the gash was not as serious structurally as it looked cosmetically; it would heal. And plastic surgery might, in time, obliterate the scar.

DAISY JANE

Make a man of you, Joey; trials like this. Praise Jesus you're alive.

This sentiment rendered guest and hostess allies—to a point; Daisy Jane knew tam'yeez (right from wrong) evidently, abided by hodood (the limits of behavior), and though taqarrub (one's proximity to Allah) was affixed to the wrong creator, she appeared to be devout, a trait admired by Ahmed. Observers Of-The-Book (though they be faulty in their doctrine) were worthy of respect (if manifestly doomed).

AHMED
(to himself)

("O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three"—Cease! it is better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.")

JOLEENA
(to herself)

("Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Hail Mary...")

DAISY JANE
(humming to herself)

(♫Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone,
Thou must save, and Thou alone♫)