Jones drove her elbow into the soft midsection of the young fellow who was
shoving past her to the drivers booth. Tourists failed to appreciate that
the last two or three people alighting at each stop would be jostled when a bus
zoomed back into traffic. Those persons didnt realize that no driver
wanted to be fined for arriving late on their routes. Locals knew that drivers
could pull into busy lanes while punching ride cards or making change and
braced themselves, accordingly.
The man groaned and
cussed. In the swarm of riders still in the stairwell between the driver and
the door, it was difficult to tell who was throwing punches and who was pulling
While that other
grasped his stomach, Albuquerque and her guide dog, Charlie, inched forward. A
large enough subset of humanity was shoving her that she might find a seat
before the bus lurched again.
Charlie wagged at the
bruised fellow. One of the mans hands had been full of fried potatoes.
The other had concealed the remnants of a pita stuffed with falafel and salad.
Charlie regarded the floor beneath those hands. Unfortunately, just as he
opened his mouth, Albuquerque tugged on his harness.
It had been tough to escape Miriam, her fathers sister. Initially,
Albuquerque had insisted on visiting every eatery at the Kotel Plaza, but that
whimpering and inveigling had not adequately distracted her aunt. Thereafter,
she demanded that they walk the full length of an uptown pedestrian mall. Her
aunt had tired, but had kept focused on Albuquerque. Finally, at the shuk,
Albuquerque was able to liberate herself.
A spice vender had
grabbed Miriams arm when the aunt had spun, unpurchased packets of cumin,
turmeric, and paprika in her basket, to monitor Albuquerque and Charlie, who
had slipped back into the market throng. The sound of Miriams bad weather
coat wrinkling under the proprietors grip had been almost as loud as was
his Russian, Hebrew, French, and Arabic curses.
Charlie sped away as quickly as could a blind girl and her canine companion let
loose in a crowd. The young one felt no compunction about evading her minder.
At least her aunt was easier to escape than was the hired help.
During an earlier
flight, on an Egged bus, Albuquerque had pocketed someone elses game
tickets, and a wad of yet another persons cash, both of which she later
gave to Avi, the familys cook. His subsequent exclamations over her gifts
were more musical to her than were the vibrations of the birds that her father
identified as hummers. Albuquerque liked the lavender that grew in her window
box and was unsure that she really wanted to share it with flying
The second time that
the girl had run-away, on an Egged bus, she had returned home with little that
was of interest to Avi. That time, her heist had consisted of: a pair of
childrens mittens, a handful of coins, and an IPhone. Avi had only
accepted the phone.
Albuquerque had kept
the coins since round money was easier for her to use than paper. She had
tossed the mittens to Charlie to chew. Mere days later, those hand
wrappers fruity yoghurt smell disappeared and Charlie abandoned
This time, she meant
to cull objects that would win Avis praise and reinforce Charlies
loyalty. During their last adventure, his paw had gotten broken and Albuquerque
felt she had to somehow compensate him.
After that second
adventure, too, Miriam had gotten wiser to her. The aunt grasped that her niece
sought outings not for fresh air, but for the chance to pickpocket.
Nonetheless, she recently had accepted Albuquerques propitiation. Her
niece had promised to open her braille Book of Psalms twice weekly as a
demonstration of a sincere desire to change.
recited those verses with her brothers daughter. Even given the fact that
the girl was spoiled by relying regularly on a maid, a cook, a chauffeur, and
two bodyguards, she could yet grow up normal. So deluded had Miriam become
about her nieces reform that she failed to anticipate the childs
While Miriam was
screaming for police, for rabbis, for IDF soldiers, and for a lawyer, Charlie
and Albuquerque explored. Charlie pulled left and then right. He had never
attended Seeing Eye dog school as he had been sourced from a litter born to one
of the familys guard dogs. His mother, unbeknownst to Albuquerques
father, had been born in a Hezbollah bunker. Like Charlie, that older,
female dog had a subcutaneous GPS chip. Unlike Charlie, hers had not been
inserted by the local vet and hers had yet to be detected.
Regardless, it had
taken a brutal disciplinarian to train Charlie to his harness. Mostly, the
dogs compliance came from his devotion to his young mistress. When
walking with her, he had full access to alleyway dumpsters, all of her uneaten
lunches, and many of the small mammals and minor reptiles that she killed
(Albuquerques hearing was nearly as good as was
In the crowded
market, Charlie pulled toward stacks of cheese, trays of pastries, and towers
of dried fish. He did not similarly wrench his lead toward nut butters or
mounds of vegetables; he was discerning.
annoyed. As they switched back and forth, all she had been able to snatch were:
a stone-filled ring, a metal bracelet, and a heavy watch. If Charlie would just
stop puling, she could harvest something that might make Avi happy.
Albuquerque liked vegetables. She wanted to feel and to smell them. She wanted
to feel and to smell some of the stacked fruit, too. As for the flowers, she
didnt mind if Charlie yanked her past those stalls.
Eventually, she and
her dog boarded a bus. Albuquerque didnt care where they were headed as
long as they remained free.
Shortly after finding
a seat, she heard the vehicle announce the first stop. She clutched Charlie
tightly. They were heading into Eastern Jerusalem, home to
Her bus could get
stoned, causing the driver to lose control. Passengers could die if heavy
objects flew through the buss window. Her bus could combust from a
Molotov or a suicide bomber. She and other riders could be killed by a
shuddered. Charlie laid his head on her foot and whimpered. Every time the bus
driver opened the door to take on and to let off passengers, Albuquerque
Finally, if the
automated announcements were to be believed, the bus had swung back into City
Center. The little blind girl and her dog got off at the bottom of Yafa Street.
Left behind, on their seat, were all of the trinkets Albuquerque had stolen.
Next to those objects was the girls copy of Psalms.
used her cell phone to dial her aunt. There were worse things than the
punishment she would surely be given by her father.