Saul follows a few steps behind my husband and the prisoner, gun drawn and pointed at the man Ray leads by the arm. The driver opens the middle door and Saul pushes the captive into the limo. Taking a seat beside me, Ray places his hand on mine and nods hello to George.
“Right away, sir.”
George pours two glasses and serves us while Saul straps the prisoner into the seat belts. The limo turns back onto the empty highway and proceeds at a great speed into the desert. Within minutes a small abandoned town appears on the horizon. Stopping in front of a small building with a red tin roof, the driver opens all the doors. I step into the warm afternoon and shade my eyes to look at the sign on the building.
Trash and debris obscure the entrance and it takes me a moment to locate the front door. The hot wind fills the air with sand and I turn towards the limo to shield my face and watch Saul drag the prisoner from the limo. Leading him to the small set of wooden steps, Saul rips the black hood from his head and steps away.
The young man stares at the saloon sign while everyone watches him. Face peppered with pockmarks and framed by greasy blond curls, he meets my gaze. I approach him, stepping carefully on the sand with my heels so I do not fall. Linking my arm under his, I lead him up the steps of the saloon and stop in front of the main entrance. I point to a small hand written sign next to the door and wait for him to read it.
He doesn’t understand and looks behind at Saul, George, and Ray standing near the limo. Ray smokes a cigar and blows smoke into the wind.
“They won’t be coming inside. It’s just as the sign says.”
“But…” he stammers, but I place a finger on his lips.
“Knock on the door.”
With hand shaking, he does as I ask and raps on the wooden door three times. A minute passes, but no answer or sound comes from within the saloon.
“Again. I don’t think anyone heard you.”
The man pounds his fist on the door and steps back. In an instant, the door swings open, making a creaking sound that dances on the wind. Ana waits in the doorway, coal black hair fluttering in the breeze.
“Ella! What a wonderful surprise. I see you brought me a present.”
Ana extends her hand and pulls the young man across the threshold into the saloon. Shaking and unable to look at her, the man stares at his shoes.
“Am I going to die today?”
Ana laughs and pulls the man closer. Pressing her lips against his ear, she whispers.
“No, you silly little man. You’re not going to die today. You’re not going to die for quite a while, I can assure you.”
The man attempts to run towards the doorway, but I stick out a foot and trip him. Someone swings the door closed from outside and the room falls into darkness.
“Welcome to Hercity,” Ana says. The sound of laughter fills the room, a chorus of women laughing.