Sûrah LVI
THE EVENT
"There is no denying that it will befall..."

56
CONTINGENCY

PISTOL

She agreed.

DUKE

Who; Amy?

PISTOL

Zahra, asshole.

DUKE

Cool. Where to?

PISTOL

Who cares? What's with her, anyway?

DUKE

Zahra?

PISTOL

Amy. Is she on the rag, or what?

Both men have witnessed Amy's brooding entrance and antisocial exit; not a word escaped her lips while she was home:

  • a lengthy shower

  • a change of clothes

  • a slice of cheese consumed in the kitchen (where she caught the general drift of her roommates' plot)

then off she stormed.

DUKE

Identity problems.

PISTOL

Anything new?

DUKE

She thinks she's gay, is all. I overheard her swappin' secrets with our under-wraps alien.

PISTOL

No shit; when?

DUKE

Last week.

PISTOL

So that's why Greer's been actin' weird.

DUKE

I doubt it; they're not tight. Not recently, anyway.

PISTOL

Tell him that. Imagine having your ex announce she's gay.

DUKE

She didn't "announce" it; I overheard it. Zahra's the only one who knows.

PISTOL

Plus you and me, not to mention Greer.

DUKE

What makes you think Greer knows?

PISTOL

He knows. Poor schmuck. Geez, that's like castration.

DUKE

She maybe said "bi" instead of gay.

PISTOL

Same fucking difference.

DUKE

Zahra said as much herself.

PISTOL

No way! What's with this crap! You ever wonder whether you're straight?

Duke lifts his wrist and bends it limply.

DUKE

Well...

PISTOL

For Christ's sake, cut it out!

The two men laugh, though each suspects the other of harboring latent tendencies.

DUKE

Straight, bi, gay; they're only labels. Sex is sex; just get it on.

PISTOL

You don't suppose that Amy's sleeping with...

DUKE

Zahra? No. She's straight.

PISTOL

Who; Amy?

DUKE

Zahra, asshole.

Pistol smirks; touch—.

DUKE

That Amy's bi wouldn't much surprise me; I'd be shocked if Zahra's is.

PISTOL

You mean she lied?

DUKE

Who; Amy?

PISTOL

Zahra. I thought you said that she said...

DUKE

Yeah, well, maybe Zahra fibbed—if not to Amy, to herself. So what's the scoop?

PISTOL

You mean with Zahra?

DUKE

Did she actually say she'd spilt?

PISTOL

I talked her into it, sorta. It's been days; no sign of 'The Chicken Slayer'. Odds are he's long gone. Meanwhile Zahra, if she's not already, is bound to go stir-crazy.

DUKE

I hear that.

PISTOL

So... well, I told her, we'd like, you know, pass the hat. Scrape up her airfare.

DUKE

What!

PISTOL

You'd rather have her holed-up in your studio? Till who knows when?

DUKE

I'm broke.

PISTOL

So's she. You think she'd lay low otherwise? Zahra's proud, if nothing else. Only reason she's playing ball is it's economically feasible. She sure can't have much faith in what we laughably call "The Plan."

DUKE

It still might work.

PISTOL

What; catch a tiger by the tail? I hope it doesn't.

Pistol cocks his thumb-and-finger, pointing it at his temple.

PISTOL

Pshew! That's suicide.

Duke reflects. The thought of what might really happen were the trap to catch its prize remains a worry-about-that-later hypothetical; they would cope (the most achievable end was getting the threat deported). Of more immediate concern to Duke is Pistol's vested interest in Zahra's evacuation.

DUKE

Find a drummer, did ya?

PISTOL

Huh?

DUKE

Your sudden interest in my studio.

PISTOL

Hey, it's worse on you than us; we're only dabblin'; you're the pro... I did, as a matter-of-fact. So, can we schedule a session? We'll pay cash.

DUKE

Christ, you're a selfish S.O.B.

PISTOL

You want her outta there, too. I'm bein' practical. Tell you what. I'll spring for yours and my share both... Come on; she's game. We'll book her first-class back to Istanbul. Whattya say?

Duke seems reluctant... feels like Judas... shakes his head.

DUKE

I'll think it over.

PISTOL

Good. And meantime I'll get quotes on one-way fares.