Sûrah LXXXIII
DEFRAUDING
"Are not the disbelievers paid for what they used to do?"

83
PRONOUNCING FALSE OATHS

Closed within, the would-be terrorist plumbs Franchone perchance to analyze his character, sound it with her heart as if their pulse had overlapped. She takes a step in his direction, pauses, looks first at then past him... to the lamp-lit table and chairs... to where the stock-still manikin sits... and to the articles disinterred from her left-untended luggage.

ZAHRA

Those are mine!

Her tone is hostile, of a sudden. She indicts him with a look.

ZAHRA

You read my letter?

She reclaims it, holds it tightly to her bosom.

FRANCHONE

Couldn't read it if I'd wanted to; it's in Arabic.

ZAHRA

But you tried. Is so dishonorable...

FRANCHONE

Look who's talking. Wasn't it you who barred that door, who cooped me up in here for hours with zero explanation? Is my giving in to boredom, Ms. Zahra Rahnavard, worse than that?

Upon his use of Zahra's given name, she bristles, feels exposed, becomes self-conscious, once again, of her attire divulging forms that are immodest in the presence of a man neither kith nor kin, moreover one who seeks to meddle beyond his understanding.