Trouble On the Road
The prisoners were on their way to die when their bus was delayed. Something wrong on the road -- a fruit seller gesturing, and a woman loudly giving birth.
Panels of silk in sherbet colors billowed, and a carpenter's load of fragrant wood had shifted, spilling. A small boy, wobbling at the task of fetching water, struggled in bare feet across a field of stubble. Goats, looking on, tilted the world to their slant view.
Some cut-throats and thieves were dispatched to help, and soon a report came back of other problems: A farmer's cow was stuck in a pond;
a barn roof was being ill repaired by a deaf man; a line of laundry had been blown into a tree; a man's daughter
would not come out of his cellar.
The guard behind the wheel shrugged; meals would have to be prepared for the helpers, so a traitor was sent to gather supplies. Prostitutes were let out to build fires. A false priest was released from his shackles and temporarily deputized, his mission limited to requisitioning funds.
The radio, sputtering threats, was answered by the driver with rude hand signals. Others were sent to bring the others back. But soon there was a marriage procession passing, and all paused to watch the local woman
and the stranger heading for vows, the new priest leading the way. Only then was it discovered that the rear tires of the bus had been spirited away; the driver stepped out for a look, and when he returned the radio was gone.
Anger filled the man and he took up rifle and sword. He walked the edges of the village, stealing as he went, and he slashed at those who objected -- until he was captured. His captors stripped him naked and chained him to a fig tree in the square.
Others of his sort were being collected, he was told, and when a large enough group was gathered a bus would be sent for.
Twilight arrives, and children prompt their pet monkeys forward with gifts of oranges. Silent, at the tittering group's edge, a shy girl looks on. Dreaming of escape herself, she gazes at the chained man until darkness takes him.
And then she runs to fetch a saw.
"Get them," the blonde child commands from the wide porch, and the criada waves the butterfly net at the yellow sulfurs.
The butterflies are bouncing above ornamental cabbages like little girls in party dresses, dancing at a fiesta, and the maid makes a mere show of catching them.
"There!" the little boy says, pointing. "Get it!"
The maid laughs and shakes her head in apology, and she waves on in the same way.
"You're not even trying!"
the child says, banging the screen wire bug box against his leg.
So she laughs again and nets a butterfly, careful not to injure it. "Abra la puerta," she says.
"The door," she says, "open the little door."
The boy works at the latch and steps forward, into the sunlight. The maid opens the fabric before him. She holds the net several inches away from the open door as the butterfly walks to the round lip. It opens and closes its wings twice. And then it flies into the box.
The Lost Book
In his travels Jesus met a man who lived in a tree, and for the first time in all the days he could recall he felt no need to speak.
The valley was yet in shadow, but the man, way up high, was caught in sunlight.
He had rubbed himself with oil and all the parts of him sparkled like the first thing ever known by light. Jesus thought of words to say that one day might have been written in red.
But just then the man looked down and smiled, mildly and without pride.
And nodding once, Jesus turned back to the goat path he followed and walked on toward the sea.