Hank Frye’s stolen Cadillac sped past the sign just before the town itself, such as it was, came into view. WEEPING WOMAN in faded white letters on a dull green background, CITY LIMITS in smaller letters beneath.
“Funny name for a town,” Brian said.
“A settler woman lost her children in a sandstorm, so the story goes,” Dave said. “Sometimes her ghost is still seen wandering around and weeping. Sad story.”
“You believe it?” Brian asked.
“Seen her myself,” Dave said.
He slowed as he drove through the town, the highway becoming the town’s main street. Though paved, the asphalt lay obscured beneath a layer of sand. Single-story buildings of wood and stucco, a couple of brick and concrete, simmered in the undiluted sun. A few vehicles, older cars and battered pick-ups, were parked around; they saw none on the streets. Even fewer people milled around in the shade of the buildings, an old man sitting on a bench, a couple of children playing. Their dark hair waved in the hot breeze, their skins the color of baked clay.
“Is everybody out here an Indian?” Brian asked.
“We’re pretty deep into the Reservation,” Dave said.
“It does look like a good hiding place,” Brian said. “The one place where nobody would want to come.”
“I think we’ll be safe here,” Dave said. “But more people visit this little town than you’d think. A lot more.”
“Why?” Brian asked.
“Because it’s holy ground,” Dave said. “That’s what brought me here the first time.”
“What makes it so holy?” Brian asked.
“You’re about to see for yourself,” Dave said.
They drove over a low hill and rounded a curve. Just beyond the cluster of buildings that comprised the main part of the town stood a church. The largest building they’d seen, designed in the typical Spanish influence, it provided an attractive siesta for the eyes, a pleasant change from the most unremarkable town. Sunlight reflected off the stained glass windows in a kaleidoscope of lush colors. Several vehicles were parked around it.
“That your friend’s church?” Brian asked.
“Yep,” Dave said. “I hope old Manny won’t be too busy hearing confessions to receive a couple of guests.”
Dave stopped along the road and parked. He and Brian climbed out of the car and stretched.
“Feel that?” Dave asked. “Absolutely no humidity. And a constant breeze. I love it.”
“Still hotter than hell,” Brian said.
“Come on,” Dave said, leading. He stopped at the heavy wooden doors for Brian to catch up.
“You know I’m supposed to be Jewish,” Brian said.
Dave grinned, pulling open the door. He stopped in the anteroom, looking through another set of open doors into the sanctuary proper. A man, dressed in the distinctive garb of a priest, lifted his head as he made his way down the aisles between the pews. He stopped, recognition filling his eyes and broadening his smile, then almost ran the remainder of the way into the anteroom. Seated here and there in the pews, the people at prayer did not seem to notice.
The priest, a heavy, robust man with coal-black hair and round eyeglasses, grabbed Dave in a bearhug, turning him around and around. Both men laughed.
“Coyote!” the priest said. “Where the hell you been keeping yourself?”
“Tell you that in confession,” Dave said. “Good to see you again, amigo.”
“Been too long, Coyote,” the priest said. He glanced over at Brian. “This one of yours?” he asked Dave.
“Meet Brian Alderman,” Dave said. “Brian, this is Manny, an old running buddy.”
Brian shook the priest’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
Manny held on to Brian’s hand, his expression changing from friendliness to one of surprise. “Coyote, he’s…”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Dave said.
Irritated, Brian pulled his hand away.
“Sorry,” Manny said. “I didn’t mean to talk like you’re not in the room. You just caught me off guard.”
“Manny’s an empath,” Dave said.
“Huh?” Brian said, still annoyed.
“An empath,” Dave said. “Like you and me have the gift of special sight.” He tapped beside his right eye. “What you and me can see, Manny feels.” “You don’t have any normal friends, do you?” Brian said.