by Marvin Pinkis
are you going, Eda?" asked Menash. The old
man gazed longingly at the trim silhouette of his
shapely spouse, a deep-hued, spirited woman half
his age. Menash spared himself the torment of
asking again when Eda would share the connubial
blanket, the connubial cave or anything connubial.
Behind the rocks was acceptable if not already
occupied by others seeking privacy in that God-forsaken
Eyes fixed to
the ground, Eda replied, "Just to the edge
of the camp, to forage."
"Not much chance of finding anything the
others missed. But in case you do, save a few
berries for me. Not the real tart ones, my
stomach you know."
thing," muttered Eda.
Eda wended her
way through the dusty camp, the howling infants,
the children and yapping dogs underfoot. Eyes
followed her, the eyes of women who bitterly
resented Eda's disdain for wearing veils to
sublimate the men's fancies. Other eyes were of
the males who, in front of their women, feigned
nonchalance at the passing of the camp vamp. She
had swept every competition for "Siren Most
Desirable to be Stranded With in a Remote Caravan."
One pair of
eyes intended to more than ogle. That man
followed Eda and scrambled behind boulders when
she glanced coyly behind her.
farther than usual and spotted an area that
promised succulent roots, at least as succulent
as roots got. Foraging in the brush to no avail,
she sat on the hot ground, overcome with the
whole business - the incessant heat, the
directionless meagre existence, eking out
sustenance from a harsh, unsparing terrain with
jackals boldly entering the camp and vultures
circling closer each day. Back in the place of
exile she had been a hairdresser and led a life
of abandon. Marriage to Menash had been arranged
by parents eager to wean Eda from that life of
dissipation and apostasy. They intended that Eda
would be spoken for on the long trek to a new
land and thusly less of a target for lechers.
Menash had been a widowed neighbor with rental
property near the pyramids and who repaired
sandals, always good for a living.
Eda mused upon
her life when her reverie was interrupted by a
husky inquiry, "Hey, cutie, what's a looker
like you doing in a dump like this? You from
Eda looked up
to observe an average man, of average build, with
average looks and a below-average line. "No,"
she snapped smartly, "I'm from Cleveland."
huh. Is that near Ur?"
near Im. Listen, can't a girl forage in peace?"
my eye on you since I joined this band at the
last oasis, but I was too shy to approach you."
that the bulge behind your loincloth hasn't been
you expect? You're such a fine figure of a woman
in your low-cut hide and shapely lower torso. A
guy's loincloth is bound to stand out. But I don't
think you're offended as much as you say."
"In this miserable horde of what passes for
humanity I get propositioned all the time. Dumb
me, I should have taken the turn in the road that
read 'To Babylon - the Scenic Route. See the
Hanging Gardens.' "
noticed that you've dallied in the desert with
them all. Don't you ever bring back any roots and
have to," said Eda, "my admirers
provide them for me. A girl has to look after
answered, "Ah, it's a hard life. How long
have we been wandering?"
track. I figure it's been at least eight years
since we crossed the Red Sea."
"I was at
the back of the bunch and just made it across.
Eight years? Gee, it seems longer. I don't know
how I'll keep from going nuts in this wretched
wilderness. Wander and forage. Wander and forage.
If I see another root or berry..."
suggest that you seek diversions. There's
something about you and I don't mean just your
loincloth. I've never asked names before, but
what's your handle?"
If we hit it off I'll call you my little Kevie."
you say. Can we start foreplay now?"
Tomorrow. Same time. And bring roots and berries."