“Hey, not to insult you, but we could run down to the mall and get you some clothes – my treat. You’d have some clean stuff to wear, anyway, sans bubbles. Jo-Jo really soaked you. Sorry.”
“No, I always have extra clothes in my duffle in the car. I was just so tired I didn’t think about how I must look. I’ll go get it …”
“Oh, yeah, the Doomsday Dufflebag.” Keith seemed to be probing to Talia looked up at him and said nothing. He recovered the fumble pretty quickly. “No, please, let me get it. I just want you to know, I haven’t heard Joana laugh like that since she got sick. Dad and I didn’t think about how good it would be for her to have a real friend again. People get so creeped out by how she is. We never hear from her old friends anymore, except she chats with them online sometimes. They don’t come to see her.”
Keith bolted away. Talia started crying again, and barely got herself under control by the time Keith knocked and handed her the duffle. She stretched up and kissed him on the point of his chin. He kissed her back, just a peck, on the top of her head, like he had Joana. “Okay, good night, then,” he stammered, and fled.
The debate within herself didn’t last long. Talia tossed the duffle on the bed and headed into the bathroom, twisting the knobs on the whirlpool. The sound of sweet, tinkling brass camel bells sounded over the rush of water. She hurried back to the bed and dug in the bag for her tablet.
“Hey Talia, where are you? The GPS on the Tesla is showing a location I don’t know.” Talia loved hearing that bear growl voice, but his words made her temper spike.
“Uncle Remmy, you set the GPS to spy on me?”
“I’ve never spied on you, my baby niece, just looked out for you best as I could. What are you doing that would make spying necessary?”
Talia flushed. “Nothing! Some kids from school missed the bus and needed a ride home. One of them lives pretty far away. Another teacher came along, and then the principal invited me for dinner. I’m spending the night at his house.”
“You’re spending the night at the principal’s house? Really? Were you that naughty on the first week of school?”
“Uncle Remmy,” Talia started to giggle. “He has a handicapped daughter, and I helped get her ready for bed. It’s really late, and I’m really tired, so they offered to let me stay.”
“Yeah, it is really late, isn’t it. I’m sorry, Tchatchki. I never know what time it is. Any new information about the Testaments?”
“I keep finding the same stuff over and over again, Popo. It’s like there’s a wall around Spain, hiding everything new.”
“That’s good, though. That means they have something to hide.”
“That’s what I thought, too. I know they’re there. I knw they are. Anyway, how’s the dig going? I didn’t expect you to even have satellite there.”
“Don’t tell the government, but I’m bouncing off one of theirs. It won’t be in position long, so I’ll have to wrap this up. Any problems with that Bible course yet?”
“We just had the first class today. I almost messed it up really bad, Popo, but Keith walked in and fixed everything.”
“The principal said I had to have a co-teacher. His son, Keith, is the one he picked. It’s good, because he’s really strong in the Science areas. And he’s super-good at discipline, too, which is how he fixed my mess-up. Two kids go saved, Popo! Right after class!”
“Praise God. Praise God. But little one, you will tell me if there’s any trouble, and you know what kind of trouble I mean. We need this trip to Spain. We need it badly. But we need it hiding in plain sight. No one can know the real significance of these Testaments.”
“I understand, Popo. I remember everything we talked about. What I’ve told people makes it sound like they don’t really exist, or we don’t know for sure what they really are, anyway. They have no clue.”
“Peace, perfect peace, Natalia. Get some rest.”