A House of Faith
Quentin knew Channel Avenue as a boulevard lined with aging mansions, and 15th Street was locally famous for the tornado that struck when he was a baby, dozens dead before the funnel lifted. But the confluence of two known roads was new to him and felt unlikely. Quentin never visited this portion of Ponca. Nothing seemed familiar, not even a pale sense of mistaken memory. Old warehouses and brick factories ruled the banks of the Bison River, brown waters clawing at limestone blocks and scrap concrete. Quentin expected a small, respectable Persian temple--hemispherical with sharp spires, an interior full of air and impressive vistas. But of course he was stupid. How could immigrants with no political power and little money recreate their native sanctuary? God was shoehorned into a two-story warehouse made of brick and more brick, a pair of gray columns flanking what resembled nothing but a closed garage door.
Quite a few people were standing before that door.
“You drove past,” Farah said.
She was nervous, perhaps a little scared.
“I did,” he agreed. “And now I’m going to park, and we’ll walk back and join the others.”
“You could have let me out first.”
“I could do a lot of things.”
In a grumpy fashion, she said nothing.
Quentin drove a long block before pulling into a likely slot, and they walked together, Farah smiling to test his mood. He smiled back. Good enough. She pushed her elbow into his side. “Hold my arm.”
He took the elbow.
“Tighter,” she said. “Remember, I’m your wife.”
He squeezed, feeling bones.
Encouraged, she leaned closer. “Treat me like a Western wife, and we’ll look obvious. Remember, I belong to you.”
“Should I hit you?”
“Not yet. Wait until I deserve discipline.” And she laughed, suddenly relaxed, happy enough to make Quentin believe that the nervousness had been an act. She shoved one breast hard into his arm, and then as they reached the first group, she let herself fall half a step behind. But even when he pretended to lead, Farah gave instructions.
“My people are at the front. Do you see them?”
“I see your friend,” Quentin said. “Maryam, isn’t it?”
Farah said, “Yes,” and slowed.
He enjoyed yanking at her fleshy arm, coaxing speed from her.
“Let’s avoid Maryam,” his wife insisted. Then to make sure that Quentin would comply, she got on his left side, aiming them on a tangent of her choosing.