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It was just a moment in time. At least David thought it had been no longer than that, but every time he thought back on it, it seemed like it had rolled on forever, long enough for him to see the look in everyone’s eyes and to analyze what they were thinking. Paolo Flores, the mixed Portuguese-Bantu Mestico young man who was his assistant in translating the Bible into Bantu had pointed to a word in a translation. “I think there’s a better Bantu word to convey this,” he’d said.

“Which word? Show me,” David Proctor had said as he stood behind Paolo, seated at a table in the rudimentary conference and classroom of the four-room school in the compound of the church’s orphanage at the edge of Calai, Angola. Leaning over Paolo, he’d placed his hands on Paolo’s shoulders. He would have thought nothing of it any time after that if he hadn’t heard the snort and intake of breath behind him and looked up, first out of the paneless window out onto the front porch and then, turning, at the door to the hallway leading to the other three rooms.

His wife, Hope, younger than he by fifteen years and with the delicate porcelain breakability look about her of blonde hair and alabaster-skin, was standing on the porch, framed by the window, her arms raised, as if paralyzed, in the air. Pastor Thomas Sears, also blond, handsome, and robust, ten years David’s junior, was in the other half of the frame. He and Hope had been conversing, but sound from in back of David had suspended their conversation and caused both of them to swivel their eyes to where David leaned over Paolo—and to hold them there, motionless, for what seemed to be forever.

When David tore his eyes from them and looked around, he saw the orphanage’s handyman, the young Bantu, Faro Jamba, staring at him. It had been Faro who had snorted and sucked in his breath.

Instinctively, David pulled his hands away, rose, and took a step away from Paolo. The original movement had all been so natural, though. He had just been checking a word that his assistant had been pointing out to him.

The moment was broken and, rather than return to his conversation with Hope, Thomas Sears spoke to David. “The shipment of Bibles have arrived from the States, Brother David,” he said. “I thought that Sister Hope and I could drive the ones for the school over in Kongola. Do you want to come along, or . . .?”

He left that hanging. “Is there something else you’d prefer I did, Pastor Thomas?” David responded. Kongola was a long, dusty drive from here—and no longer in Angola. It was in the South African mandated territory of South-West Africa, across an uncertain border from the desolate outpost the Assembly of God enclave occupied in the far lower, southeast quadrant of Angola. They could not return until after dark—or perhaps they’d have to spend the night in Kongola if there was any trouble from roadblocks or with the Jeep. This was a relatively safe area of Angola, which had been in a state of civil war for the four years since the Proctors had been assigned here in 1960—indeed it was so remote and desolate that the rebels tended not to be interested in expending forces to occupy it. But the government troops were nearly as lawless and threatening as the rebels were. It was a Catholic country that some powerful forces in the country wanted to be a communist country allied with Cuba. There was minimal tolerance for Protestant Evangelists like the Assembly of God orphanages and schools that the Proctors worked and lived in.

“Well, considering that the government confiscated the last shipment of Bibles, I’d like to get these distributed as quickly as possible,” Thomas said. “If you stayed, you and Paolo could unpack and divide them for distribution tomorrow. Sister Hope and I’d best assume that we might have to stay in Kongola for the night.”

“Yes, yes, of course. We’ll tend to the Bibles here,” David said. Paolo had looked up at him, all trust and innocence, which caused David to turn and look to where Faro had been standing. Faro was a worry to them—always looking around suspiciously, seemingly critical of the work the Protestants were doing here and disapproving whenever work with the orphans moved into speaking of the Bible and its teachings. When Pastor Thomas had arrived earlier in the year to take over management of the orphanage and school, David had tried to suggest that maybe Faro should be replaced—that maybe he was spying on them for the government, but Thomas, while not dismissing David’s views, had not made a change.

“No doubt the government is watching us closely,” he said. “If it is Faro who is watching us for them, at least we’ll know who to be careful around. I do understand that we must be ever observant and not give the government any reason to close us down.”

Any reason to close us down, David thought, as he looked to where Faro had been standing, watching him. But Faro wasn’t there anymore.

“Now the word I was thinking of—” Paolo said, returning to his translation.

“We should casino şirketleri leave that for now,” David said, as he moved to the window out onto the porch. Pastor Thomas was helping Hope into the Jeep. David admired the musculature of the young man, who was not nearly as intense in his mission, David knew, as he was, but was more charismatic and imbued with life than David was. The young pastor moved around the Jeep with grace, like a dancer, a sparkling smile on his face. David, feeling a tightness in his body and a longing to be more Thomas and less David, followed the movement of the young man until he had settled behind the wheel of the Jeep and backed it out onto the road.

Hope had an overnight bag with her. She looked so delicate, vulnerable, and out of place in this setting, small and willowy, dressed, as usual, in a stark white cotton dress that David had no idea how she could keep so clean in this hot, dusty climate. She had been almost a child when he’d married her, the daughter of one of his professors at the seminary. He had wanted to refuse the assignment to Angola, worrying that she couldn’t survive it. But she had managed it a lot better than he had. He felt too deeply—both about his religion and about the economic and intellectual poverty of the Angolans of this region—he thought. He was always agonizing over what there still was to do, while Hope just took one issue, one Angolan, at a time, serving them but not trying to change—or save—them, and, in the end, the orphans all worshipped her and used her as an example. They were saved by good works, not by indoctrination alone. He had to keep telling himself that.

Even when, two months earlier, it looked like the civil war was coming closer to them, and David had asked, worried for Hope’s safekeeping, that they be transferred elsewhere, Pastor Thomas’s response had been that Hope could not be spared from the mission here. David couldn’t claim that that hadn’t stung. This was his, David’s, posting, but it was Hope who could not be spared. Hope had shamed him by agreeing with Thomas.

What could be more important than bringing Angolans—including the Catholics—to the right way of it or of the work that he and Paolo were doing with the Bible translations?

He had really wanted to suggest that Hope be sent home, but he hadn’t gotten that far before Pastor Thomas had decided that she was the indispensable one here. It probably was the fifteen-year difference in their ages as much as the difficult conditions here, but everything had gone cool between David and Hope. It never had been red hot. Marrying and bringing people to God in far-off places had been romantic at the time, but the reality hadn’t been as fulfilling as either of them had wanted. And the age difference seemed to have settled in to put the two of them in different worlds. It had come to David feeling he was always being watched for some reason, in a cage, not as free as he liked—like when the moment in time had suddenly been suspended with three pairs of eyes on him when he was just checking a word translation Paolo was pointing out to him.

David hadn’t hesitated at all when Pastor Thomas suggested what would surely be an overnight trip that Hope would accompany him on. It would be two fewer pairs of eyes on David for a night and much of the next day. And he could find some mission away from the compound to send Faro on.

“We should go to the shed and sort out the Bibles that just arrived,” he said to Paolo, as he looked around to see if he could see Faro—and if Faro was watching him.

* * * *

Late in the night, David came suddenly awake, without knowing why. He was alone in his bed and had to take a moment to wonder why. But that’s not what had awakened him. He realized that there was light at the window—and not the burning light of a southeast Angolan sunbeam, but a flicker, crackling, dance light of a fire. Putting his feet on the floor, he quickly pulled on his trousers and raced for the front door of his bungalow. There wasn’t anything there that should be burning. Pastor Thomas and Hope hadn’t returned. They had the Jeep.

He was brought up short at the door. The flames were coming from a pile of books that had been torched—the Bibles that had just arrived. Scattered about the courtyard were soldiers, with rifles—Angolan government soldiers.

“What is this?” he exclaimed, his eyes fighting to pick out the officer in command, and in the scan seeing, first, Paolo, clad only in a loincloth, being held between two soldiers, hunched over as if he’d been beaten, and, then, Faro Jamba, standing beside the older man who obviously was the soldier in charge.

“Him. That is the man—the proselytizer—the violator,” Faro called out, pointing at David.

“What is the meaning of this?” David asked. He thought he knew the meaning of it, though. The last Bible order had been intercepted and burned. Faro obviously had told the authorities about this new shipment. He most likely had told them about casino firmaları the earlier shipment too.

But David was wrong about the meaning of this.

“Him. He’s the man who has been lying with Paolo Flores here, leading him astray, forcing him into man sex.”

“David Proctor,” the soldier in authority said, “I am arresting you for the crime of homosexuality.”

* * * *

Thomas Sears sat in the living room of the Kongola compound guest bungalow until nearly midnight, reading the Bible. It had been more than an hour since the Bantu woman had departed, the hem of her floor-length orange and red sari brushing the wooden floor and her bare feet slapping, making a hollow sound on the raised floor, as she finished tidying up. They rarely had overnight guests at Kongola, and the man sitting and reading his Bible so diligently not only was a handsome devil, for a white man, but he also was the head man at the orphanage over in Calai, in the troubled land of the Angolans.

The young miss looked too weak and breakable to be wandering around the desert. No wonder she had retired hours ago. She was not long for this desolate region, the Bantu housekeeper didn’t think. There was no substance to her, the small, mousey thing.

With a sigh, as the clock on the sideboard chimed midnight, Pastor Thomas laid the Bible aside, stood, stretched, and, after taking an inspection walk around the outside of the bungalow, reentered the building and walked back down the hallway of the four-room building, built as far as he could see on the same plans as the classroom building in the Calai orphanage compound.

He thought of knocking on Hope’s door to see if she was still awake but then decided against making any noise whatsoever. He opened the door and stood in the doorway, leaning up against the frame and looking at her as she lay on the bed.

Of course she was awake. They had already decided that he could come at midnight. She was wearing a white cotton nightgown. But when she saw him in the doorway, his frame picked out by the strong beam of moonlight penetrating the room through a window, she reached down, pulled the hem of the nightgown up above her breasts, spread and bent her legs, and reached down to touch her sex with the tip of a finger.

Overly dramatic, Thomas thought, but he’d take her anyway he could get her.

She was about to speak when she saw him put his finger to his mouth, signaling that they should remain, for protection, in silence. Having conveyed that instruction, he ran the finger around his lips, parted his lips, and pushed the finger inside. With a smile, her eyes glued to him, Hope did the same with her sex, rimming it with her finger and then, as she arched her back and gave the slightest of moans, penetrated herself with the finger.

She watched as Thomas brushed the suspenders off his shoulders, unbuttoned his fly, and pushed his trousers and underdrawers to the floor. For the longest minute they remained in place, watching each other. She moved her finger in and out of herself as he stroked his thick cock.

Then, like a panther, he was on her, lacing his arms through her thighs, raising and spreading them, burying his face in the folds of her vulva, and penetrating her with his tongue as she gave deep sighs, arched her back, and moved her hands to work her taut nipples.

His hand went to covering her mouth to stifle her cries, as his body moved up hers, he pressed inside her with his hard cock. She embraced his legs, rubbing the meat of his calves with her heels, as he began to move deep inside her. She sucked in air when he thrust inside her and exhaled as he withdrew, only to thrust again. Thrust and suck in air; withdraw and exhale. Thrust and suck. She clutched his buttocks with her hands, trying to pull his entire body inside her.

“Fuck me. Fuck me deep,” she murmured.

“I’m afraid that I’ll—” he whispered, his voice hoarse, clogged with lust.

“I won’t break. Surely by now you know I won’t break,” she answered. “Harder, faster, deeper. Take me away from here. You know where. You know how.”

Unsatisfied with the pace at which he was taking her, she pushed him to the side, causing him to roll over onto his back. Straddling his chest with her knees, she impaled herself on his cock and rode him with wild gyrations of lust and wantonness.

* * * *

“No, no, don’t come near me. Stay over there. They must see that you’ve stayed over there.”

“But you’re hurt, Paolo. They’ve beaten you. You need help.”

“No, Brother David. There’s no help you can give. Stay on your side of the cell.”

David, who had raised himself up from a sitting position, legs pulled up into his chest, at the base of the wall at one side of the cell below the wooden plank serving as a bed, took one step toward the other side of the cell, where there was another platform bed, when Paolo stretched out a hand and stopped him. David had been dozing on this, the second day of güvenilir casino his incarceration in the Calai jail, when the steel door had been opened and Paolo, still only in a loincloth, was propelled inside. Paolo clearly had been beaten at least once again since David had last seen him held between two soldiers at the orphanage compound.

“Why won’t you let me help you?” David asked.

“They want you to,” Paolo answered in sotto voce so that David had to strain to hear him. “They want you to come to me. They want you to embrace me. They will take photos. They need proof of your crime.”

“My crime?”

“The crime they have accused you of. They won’t prosecute me, they say. They say it could not be my fault. That it would be you, the foreigner, who forced me. They don’t want to acknowledge that an Angolan would . . . anything of that nature. I’m supposed to give them proof.”

“But just tending you wounds . . .”

“Me almost naked like this. An Angolan court. They would see what they wanted to see in the photos. They want all Protestant Evangelists out of the country. Just . . . stay over on that side—for your own good; for the good of both of us.”

David sank back down on the wall and folded himself into himself. He could have been thinking. He probably was praying. Several minutes later, he spoke, his voice strong. “Determination. And faith. Determined faith. That is what we need here. I understand. I stay over here and you stay over there. All we need is determined faith.”

“You have nothing to dress my wounds with anyway,” Paolo murmured. “And I have family here with some influence. They will send someone to attend me.”

“And my wife and Pastor Thomas. They won’t let me remain here long. Not if there is no proof of anything, and there won’t be.”

Paolo didn’t answer this. Paolo was more observant of the dynamics among the Americans at the Calai Assembly of God orphanage and school than David was.

But, sure enough, within hours a visible irritated and disappointed military officer came to take Paolo out of the cell and to announce that David had a visitor.

Pastor Thomas was concerned, naturally, but a little standoffish.

“These charges . . . ,” he said.

“They are just trying to get rid of us,” David answered. “They will resort to any means now to do so. That Baptist minister they have put in prison in Cunjamba. I’m sure he had no contact with the revolutionaries. But they can’t claim we all have. They have to come up with something else.”

“Of course,” Thomas answered. “I will go into Luanda when I can. We’ll get the embassy on this. You’ll be free very soon.”

“And Paolo?”

“Perhaps we need to separate efforts for you from those for Paolo, but I’ll see what can be done.”

David started to say something about that, but then he changed course. “Hope. She didn’t come with you.”

“This isn’t a place where Hope should be coming. She’s not up to this, I’m sure.”

“But about the charge . . . has she said anything?”

“We haven’t discussed it. I’m sure she has faith in you. Her physical constitution might be delicate, but her faith is determined. She’s a woman of determined faith.”

“Yes, of course,” David said. “But you will tell her . . .?”

“Yes, of course I will. Now there are some issues I have to get settled before I go, but as soon as I take care of those, it’s off to Luanda.”

“Luanda is so far away.”

“Yes, but we must do something to get you out of these . . . conditions.”

After Thomas left, Paolo was brought back in, his wounds attended to and a pair of low-hanging shorts on his frame. The military officer gave him a meaningful look and a head gesture toward David, but Paolo went immediately to his side of the cell and remained there. David sank back down to his “hiding from the world” crouch on the floor against the wall at the end of his platform bed.

Hope Proctor was standing in the doorway of Pastor Thomas’ bungalow when Thomas returned.

“Did they let you see him?” she asked as Thomas climbed the stairs to the porch.

“Yes.”

“I wish I could have gone with you. Despite everything, he’s my husband.”

“The jail in Calai is no place for an American woman to be,” David answered.

“The charges. Did he—?”

“He didn’t deny them. And they’ve put Paolo in the cell with him.”

Hope shuddered and crossed her arms tightly across her breasts, as if shielding herself from something she didn’t want to hear—that she didn’t want to believe or know. “What can we do for him?”

“Not much. I’ll call the church’s central office in Luanda. But you know what this can mean for us?”

“I’ve thought of little else all day,” Hope answered.

“So?”

“Yes. I can’t wait.”

He didn’t make her wait. He bent her over the arm of the sofa in his living room, pushing the back of her white cotton dress up to the small of her back, exposing her bare buttocks. He laughed at the discovery that she wasn’t wearing panties. She cried out when he thrust inside her, needing no buildup time, as he’d gone hard on the drive back to the compound from the mere thought of them not needing to meet in secret now.

“Is it . . .? Am I . . .?” he murmured.

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