Three short rings, two long intone... hence Zahra moves unhurriedly, pokes the buzzer to admit her code-observing guest—who mounts, with antipodal haste, the studio's flight of stairs, stopping at the top to blurt out his request
The blank expression Pistol's phrase evokes bodes ill for his bursting bladder.
He charges past her, almost rudely were it not for his distress. She hears a zipper... then a pause... then a torrent of alleviation.
1. "Take a leak" is how Americans must communicate urination.
2. This one empties like a he-goat.
3. "Doin' okay?" he next will ask. He then will pace, in lieu of sitting, like a child kept after school, until dismissed—is Pistol's pattern.
4. Yet he does arrive in turn and has not shirked his duty once, although I feel he grows impatient like the others.
Emerging first, re-zipping second, Pistol does not stand on ceremony, does not stand, in fact, at all; instead he prowls the cloistral space, examines this and that: an open book, a lamp, a magazine, regards a throw-rug (substitute prayer mat) spread on the floor's insulation.
Zahra tracks his observation.
His comment, well-informed, suggests a heretofore unuttered sensitivity.
Taking note of the direction Pistol indicates, Zahra nods (in the windowless room, her guess, evidently, had been wrong).
Inclined to stay, engage in somewhat more than trivial conversation, Pistol alters his routine and comes to a semi-skittish halt—a matter of some importance weighing upon his mind.
The tactlessness of this remark has a strong effect on both; Pistol reddens, Zahra blanches, Ahmed's gruesome warning looms—remindful of the target's cutthroat fate.
He looks contritely at the inmate. Zahra shrugs off his apology, less offended than bemused by Pistol's exhortation.
Again the insight shown by Pistol seems atypical. Zahra ponders, disconcerted by the broader implications.
5. False or true?
6. Have I submitted like a faithful slave—let Allah's will be done—or do I harbor doubts rebellious? Dare I lurk, strike first, elude?
7. Escape to where, to what? Without belief, the world is less than meaningless.
8. Creed, for those astray, ensures our rightful condemnation.
He starts to leave.