Dahlia slept through the whole day, waking around 8PM when the doorbell rang. It was Johnny. She just stared at him.
"So, how've you been?" he asked.
"Feeling a little ad hoc lately." Latin again. To this, meaning just for this purpose at this moment. She felt as though her brain had been violated with all this knowledge. Then her palms made her think of it as a radical openness, like her open wounds. But was that really her thought? The only thing that felt completely hers, besides the gray in her hair, was her love and lust for Johnny. And she didn't even want that.
"Been anywhere interesting?" he asked.
"Could you be any more obvious?" she asked, almost laughing. "You know where I've been. Your Vatican buddies must have told you."
"You're half right. I know where you were up until you ran into that dungeon beneath St. Patrick's. And I know you strolled back here this morning. But in between, I don't know. How you got out of the Cathedral without being noticed, I don't know."
"That makes me want to run away more often."
"You're spying on me?" she asked.
"You don't realize how important you are."
"Neither do those buddies of yours."
"Who?" he laughed. "Those experts who interviewed you? You passed all their tests." A little sarcasm twinkled when he said "experts."
"What do you mean? I ran out before they got started."
"Can I come in?" he asked. He was still standing in the hallway. She stepped aside and he walked to the kitchen table.
"You got a lemon?" he asked.
"Sure," she said, and put a lemon in front of him on the bare table. he looked at it for a moment, as if her were marveling at it.
"Oh, sorry," she said and put down a napkin. As soon as it hit the table he had the lemon cut in half on top of it, achieved with a pocket knife that until that very moment must have been in his pocket. He wiped the blade one side at a time on the napkin and folded the knife back into his pocket, all finished by the time she lifted her fingers back off the table. She shuddered to think about how dangerous he was. It thrilled her. Was this evil without the dread appearance? Was this an attractive evil? "Dear God please let me see this as it is," she prayed, but saw only beauty and felt only his eyes darting side to side, as if they were rolling against her skin. Marbles. A massage. Johnny was sucking on the bottom half.
"You knew Latin," he said.
"You talked to them in Latin. And not schoolbook Latin, either. The real thing. You used expressions they never heard before, conjugations and stuff they never heard of."
"So it's bad Latin." She felt relieved.
"No, Dahlia. It's colloquial Latin. You get it? It's Latin like they spoke it in Rome. It's living Latin, real Latin."
"How do they know that?"
"What else could it be?"
"Bad Latin, like I said."
"No, you spoke it naturally. No hesitation."
"Come on, it sounds like they're giving me the benefit of the doubt."
"They've seen a lot of fakes," he said. "They know the tricks. Not to mention the fact that you ran loose into the laybrinth under St. Patrick's last night and then just strolled into your apartment the next morning."
"How would Saint Catherine know about Saint Patrick's?"
"The labyrinths are designed like the catacombs underneath Rome."
"Come on, that's too weird."
"You got out, didn't you?"
"What did you do last night?"
"Like you said. I got out of the labyrinth."
"You met someone."
"Who had time?"
"There's time enough for someone who knows her way around. You met somebody."
"Even if I did, why would I tell you? You'd probably just blow them up."
"They're too well-protected for that."
"How do you know that?" she asked, agitated, almost yelling now. "Why do you even ask me when you have all the answers?"
"I don't. Not at all. I only know the one thing."
"Last night, whoever it was you were with, you met the Antichrist."
Dahlia dropped her cup of coffee. She hadn't even realized she'd made one.
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