From the 2nd book, after rehearsal, Bob and Denny fall in love, Seth asks Batresh out on a date
Bob drove to the West End in his old Peugeot. Denny followed in a car he bought from his father, an orange Toyota Corolla, pock-marked from a hail-storm, years earlier. They parked in an alleyway behind buildings with carved stone panels from early in the century. He pointed out two gay bars within one block on Euclid Avenue. At one end was an art deco bar called Herbie’s, one of only two gay bars in the U.S. with clear glass windows. The oppression of gay people in the U.S. so severe that most gay bar owners protected their patrons by either blacking out windows, or choosing buildings with no windows at all. The windows at Herbie’s were, almost defiantly, clear sheets of glass. Looking through them, Batresh noticed Victorian oil paintings. Palm fronds arched over tables and wicker chairs. Ceiling fans turned languidly above the bar. Shining, chromed bordered table tops, and vines hanging over windows gave the restaurant the feel of a 1930’s movie set. She saw a white and silver, stained glass window suspended from the ceiling, a decorative element saved from the Normandy cruise liner.
Along a barrier separating two levels of the dining room, perched, chromed, nude figures holding bowls from which flowering vines fell.
At the other end of the block, at Euclid and McPherson, was another bar, older, with blacked out windows, shabby and ragged, smelling of old beer and cigarettes, The Potpourri. They walked east from Euclid towards a red dragon hanging over the side walk. They’d reached Llewellyn’s. Once inside, they squeezed around a table set against the wall. Bob, Denny, the middle-aged woman wearing mink, Leslie, Seth, and three other women crowded against each other.
“Miriam is from Mississippi too,” Bob said to Denny. Batresh saw they were holding hands under the table. Denny looked into Bob’s eyes as if he had found the one who would save him from a life of misery, the one who could stop his nightmares. Bob looked into Denny’s eyes as if he would battle the devil himself to protect this damaged, young man. Batresh saw they were falling in love.
Leslie could be a stand-in for Barbra Streisand. After the gap of not knowing who Elvis Presley was in her first mission, Batresh was careful to make sure the downloads covered popular culture. Seth looked at her with excitement. “What brings you to St. Louis?” he asked.
Batresh thought quickly, “Washington University.”
“Really,” Seth responded. “Are you working on a PhD?”
Batresh nodded, “the history of early Egypt.” At least, she knew something about this subject.
“Your dissertation?” Seth asked.
Batresh nodded, wondering what conversational mine fields lay before her after this spur-of-the-moment decision.
Seth ordered a Guinness.
“I’ll have a coke,” Batresh told the waitress.
Denny was explaining, “I came here with a woman, we were going to get married, but it didn’t work out.”
Bob couldn’t help but laugh. “Aren’t you a little young to be getting married?”
Leslie interjected, “Aren’t you a little gay to be getting married.” She laughed at her own joke. Bob blushed, trying not to laugh. He looked down at the young man’s hand he held in his own.
Denny looked at Leslie, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“I know so,” Leslie told him. “When I saw you, I didn’t know if you were a man or a woman.” She leaned over to Denny and gave him a kiss square on the lips. “You are beautiful.”
Bob squeezed Denny’s hand.
Their drinks arrived. Batresh wondered that a restaurant could be so crowded on a Tuesday night.
Denny picked at a salad, observing everything and everyone, taking in all information he could, happy to be in a more sophisticated environment.
Middle-aged men sat at the bar watching sports on TV. Every now and then, they shouted, raising fists in the air.
Seth moved closer. Batresh could smell his scent. She noted genetic markers, signs in his face signifying his ancestors were Middle Eastern. In intervening centuries, his ancestors living in Northern Europe, he was pale and educated in European art and history. Her recent downloads included information about the Jewish people, including information not widely accepted.
Two thousand years after she grew up at Sekhem, a Kemetic leader, a Pharaoh, would attempt to wipe out the ancient religions her people practiced. She knew this Pharaoh would insist on worshiping one God. She also knew that he would be poisoned, and that his first son would restore reverence to the ancient Gods. Another of that Pharaoh’s sons, the son of a wife of little importance, one called, The Child, or Moses, would be committed to the monotheism of his father. He would be ostracized and banished.
That Pharaoh’s son, a fierce leader of Egyptian armies, a ruthless military tactician, would take with him the fiercest soldiers his father gathered round him. These fighters, drawn from adjoining regions, revered the murdered Pharaoh. They were brutal and efficient. This son of Akhenaten would take fighters to their homelands, where their descendants would establish a new kingdom, and the monotheism of his father would evolve into what would later become Judaism. But, she would not speak of this to her new friends.
Suddenly, Denny gasped, reaching his right hand forward, “I am so sorry.” He blushed with embarrassment, and looked at the middle-aged woman.
She was wiping something off her mink with a paper napkin. She drew her brows together and pursed her lips.
“I apologize, he offered.” Denny had put a small tomato in his mouth, and bit down, causing the tomato to explode, shooting pulp and seeds onto the woman’s mink.
She tried to wipe it off her treasured possession, dipping a paper napkin into a glass of water, dabbing it at the stain. She frowned at him. “I have to go home to get this off,” she stated. She stood, pulling the mink tightly around her shoulders, and walked to the aisle, quickly making her way out of the restaurant.
Watching her leave, Batresh saw the Tlaloc from rehearsal sitting at a table near the front window. He was watching Denny.
Batresh wondered if the Tlalocs were here to harm him. Did they know he would help humans survive? Did they plan to kill Denny as they tried to kill Namazu? The Tlalocs had not mastered the art of time travel. How could they know the impact Denny, her mother’s Ka, would have?
Seth stood to allow Bob and Denny out from behind the table. They were leaving. Batresh took her handbag and stood as well. Seth took the opportunity to take Batresh’s hand as he moved back into the aisle. Bob and Denny turned and headed towards the front door of the bar. Seth and Batresh followed.
When they reached the sidewalk outside, the unseasonably warm winter night had cooled. “You don’t have a coat?” Seth asked.
“I didn’t think I would need one,” Batresh tried to laugh.
Seth removed his leather jacket and placed it on her shoulders.
The four of them walked to Euclid and turned left. “I don’t know much about Ancient Egypt,” Seth offered. Batresh thought was ironic for him to say such a thing, since his ancestors arose there.
“My concentration is in the Kemetic culture before the Pharaohs,” Batresh responded. She noticed that Seth looked confused. “There is debate about where knowledge of architecture, agriculture, and writing came from.” She looked into Seth’s face, and felt affection for him. His fierce expression belied an innocence.
She continued, “The culture appeared quickly, almost overnight. The ancients themselves believed their culture came directly from the Gods,” she looked at his face to judge his reaction. She continued her statement, “…before the first Pharaohs.”
Seth looked at her with interest. He had not expected her to be beautiful and educated. He was thrilled by her meticulous pronunciation of words. They looked ahead of them towards Bob and Denny, who had turned right into the alley. They continued towards them. “May I see you on the weekend?” Seth asked her.
“That would be nice,” she smiled. “I only recently arrived. I am still with friends at Fontainebleau.”
Seth looked to the west, expecting to see the Chase Hotel, but his view was obscured by closer buildings. “Fontainebleau is a Catholic girl’s school, right?” he asked.
Looking to her right, Bob and Denny kissing. “Yes,” she paused as they watched the couple. “But, they recently changed their policy. They allow boys too.”
Seth looked at Bob and Denny. “I won’t take such liberties.” He squeezed her hand gently, “Yet.” He paused, “May I drive you to the college?”
“Thank you,” Batresh offered. “But, Sister Ahatu will come to pick me up at the Chase.” They continued walking south.
“That’s an unusual name,” Seth responded. “I don’t think I have heard of Sainte Ahatu.” Seth knew that Catholic religious took the names of saints.
“Neither have I,” Batresh chuckled.
“So, what can you tell me about ancient Egyptians?” Seth continued, as he slid his arm around her waist.
Batresh looked into his eyes, and thought to herself, “I know you are a descendant of them.” But, she did not say it. Instead, she responded, “They came to the Nile, from the Sahara and eastern deserts as droughts became more continuous and severe.” She could see to her right, the tall hotel against the night sky. “They were looking for food and water.”
They turned towards the right. She looked up in the sky and saw The Winter Hunting Scene, and Orion’s belt, which she knew, humans originally saw as Osiris. His belt had been interpreted as his penis, the holy phallus with which the Queen of Heaven impregnated herself. She could see her breath in the cool air. “There are petroglyphs in the Sahara depicting wild game, fish, and fruit trees.” They reached the hotel.
Seth looked at her intimately. She knew he wanted to kiss her. She stood on tip toes and kissed him quickly on the cheek. “You can find me at Fontainebleau’s dorms, until I find an apartment.”
She stepped back and nodded, turning to go into the hotel.